Where were you the last time Dodge released a new car? I had only just started studying, it was a… decade past. It took Dodge, what seems like an eternity, to get the poorly received Dartso the 2023 Hornet better give Stellaantis muscle makers a viable entry-level model—for real this time.
Dodge unveiled the Hornet as part of the Speed Week celebrations in Michigan on Tuesday night. The brand considers the Alfa Romeo Tonale-based compact crossover are “gateway muscle” product, which would sound like more of a stretch if we didn’t live through an industry-wide purge of coupes and sedans.
To its credit, the Hornet is clearly aiming for the punchy one among the myriad small SUVs on offer today. It only comes in two flavors: GT and R/T. Both have four-wheel drive as standard, and the base drivetrain in the GT is a turbocharged two-liter four-cylinder that produces 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed transmission — industry-leading numbers, Dodge is quick to mark. It will presumably start below $30K.
Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line R/T plug-in hybrid boosts power to 285 hp and 383 lb-ft, combining a 1.3-liter engine with a 90 kW electric motor that spins the rear axle, guided by a six-speed automatic transmission. From a standstill, it can reach 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, provided you use the car’s “PowerShot” function – a temporary boost of 25 hp activated by pressing both the paddle shifters and the accelerator pedal. to press. The R/T can also travel approximately 30 miles on battery power alone.
Power is the only part of the equation here. Each Hornet benefits from fully independent front and rear suspension, dynamic torque vectoring and an electronic differential lock when sport mode is active. Brembo four-piston fixed calipers are standard on the R/T and optional on the GT, while driver-selectable damping is available via the Track Pack option on both finishes.
As with the Charger and Challenger, Dodge is pushing factory-supported upgrades hard with the Hornet. To illustrate this, the brand brought a Hornet GLH “concept” to Speed Week, inspired by Shelby’s upgraded Omni GLH from the 1980s.
This one-off has suspension and exhaust upgrades as well as GLH graphics, all of which will be available to consumers. It’s nice that an owner can make their own GLH if they want to, but it’s disappointing that Dodge doesn’t just offer this package straight from the factory. You would think with all those new special editions coming for the last run of the Charger and Challengerthey would stock the GLH on dealer lots.
Like it or not, small entry-level crossovers like the Hornet and the Kona Nee are today’s hot hatches. However, there are not many players in the segment yet, at least on our side of the pond where we have the Ford Puma ST and Cupra Formentor. It’ll be interesting to see how much muscle Dodge can put into a grocery package – at least until we get a real SRT version. That’s something the Dart never had.
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