Do you know the name Hornet? I’m not talking here about the hero “The Green Hornet”, but about the name put on a car that dates back several decades. This time, the Stellantis group uses the name again, but in a completely different context: the creation of a small SUV model, with a refined style, but not related to its predecessor. And above all, it is a question here of the car that revives the Dodge name, after ten years of scarcity without the launch of a new product.
Special collaboration, Marc Bouchard, Automotive journalist
The Hornet is Dodge’s new car, that’s right. But it is also a close cousin of the Alfa Romeo Tonale which shares the same platform and engine. With the Dodge Hornet, however, we’re targeting a different customer base by retaining the looks and capabilities of a small car. Success? Yes, in its own way, even if other elements could be better integrated.
For its launch, there is only one, but in the next few months, the Dodge Hornet will be based on two versions: GT, petrol, developing some 268 horses and 295 lb-ft of torque thanks to its 2.0 liter biturbo engine. But the best of the new things, let’s be honest, is the R/T version, the plug-in hybrid version, which easily launches its 288 horsepower and which even has an electric range of almost 50 kilometers.
Does the latter appeal to you more? Be patient, as you will have to wait until the end of summer to be able to take full advantage of it. The good news is that Dodge tells us that production times will be realistic and short. We want to believe them, but we’ll still have to wait a bit to be sure!
However, if Dodge manages to pull off the Hornet plug-in hybrid in the right amount of time, the subcompact car could easily top the class, and generate surprising sales. A fun little tidbit: you’ll be buying a 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, but the R/T will change its stock model year and be delivered as a 2024.
Alfa or Dodge
Yes, the Hornet is a Dodge, with a dashboard inspired by other models in the family, and a clear silhouette closer to a Dodge than an Alfa Romeo. Yet it is close to its Italian cousin, with whom it shares more than a platform: it also shares its origin. Because both are assembled on the same assembly line, directly in Italy.
Physically, we created a distinctive nose and grille reminiscent of the Dodge family. The silhouette, more rounded in places, is not too far from that of its cousin. Same thing for the dashboard. Yes, it was designed to be somewhat reminiscent of the Charger and Challenger, but the Alfa inspiration is never far away. Which, between you and me, is a big deal.
Although the car offers a lot in terms of equipment and materials, some things have been neglected. This is especially the case of the interior space, which puts us a little. Gossips will say that it is my silhouette that takes up a lot of space, but the truth is that the Hornet offers less space in the front seats than its rival, the Mazda CX-5, which is not a model of that type.
Fortunately, the Dodge Hornet offers precise driving, even fun in some cases. We really like the suspension work, which keeps weight transfer to a minimum.
However, we would have appreciated the transmission (I say because it is 6 and 9 speed depending on the version chosen) more adapted to the actual road conditions. Basically, Stellantis has always had a problem with its 9-speed gearbox, it has not been completely solved. Fortunately, a lot of torque in the low thrust (which is really the same as the obvious hybrid) makes it possible to bet on the correct acceleration.
Dodge Hornet has style, looks and handling power and unbeatable road characteristics. He also has bad flaws, which however are not enough to hold him back. Price will be the deciding factor, and at around $55,000 plus (taxes added and rebates removed) for top-of-the-line versions of the hybrid, it could find itself in a tough spot.