Dodge’s first electrified vehicle – the Hornet compact SUV – has finally broken cover.
Presented in three different guises, including the ‘GT’, the plug-in hybrid ‘R/T’ and the ‘GLH Concept’ showcasing factory-backed performance upgrades, orders for the 2023 are now open, with the ‘GT’ model expected to hit North American dealerships in December. The hybrid R/T will follow later in Spring 2023, and while an MSRP has not yet been officially confirmed for the latter, starting prices for the range are already stated to be under $40,000 here in Canada.
The arrival of its first-ever electrified model is a significant step for the traditionally turbo V8-powered Dodge, which, as part of the electrification strategy of parent company Stellantis, is set to introduce its first electric muscle car in 2024. In his official statement, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis states that the Hornet is “poised to jolt the mainstream compact utility vehicle segment with looks, feel and performance that are unmistakably Dodge” as the brand begins its “electrified transformation.”
Sharing its platform with the Alfa Romeo Tonale, the Hornet R/T stands 1,601 mm (5.25 ft, and 0.8 in shorter than the non-PHEV GT) tall, sits 4,528 mm (nearly 15 ft) long and 2,082 mm (6.8 ft) wide, and rides on a 2,636 mm (just over 8.6 ft) wheelbase. Shared componentry with the Alfa also extends to the fully independent suspension, Koni dampers, and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, while the PHEV also comes as standard with Brembo four-piston brake calipers.
The GT, claimed to be the industry’s quickest, most powerful utility vehicle under $40,000, gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The PHEV R/T – referred to as ‘Head of the Hive’ – features a smaller, 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that drives the front axle, and which is mated with a rear-mounted, 90 kW electric motor to produce a combined 285 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. 199 lb-ft of torque is sent to the front axle from the ICE powertrain, while the e-motor powers the rear axle with the remaining 184 lb-ft.
Unlike the GT, which sends power to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission, the R/T is equipped with a six-speed example.
The PHEV’s combined output is enough for a limited top speed of a shade under 206 km/h and an estimated 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) run of a solid, if unspectacular, 6.1 seconds, four-tenths quicker than the 1,600-kg GT and despite the PHEV weighing 275 kg more. There’s also, what Dodge calls, a little extra “sting” courtesy of ‘Powershot,’ a system that can deploy an extra 25 hp and instant torque from the e-motor in a 15-second burst. That’ll shave another tenth off the 0-96 km/h sprint.
Dodge claims the 15.5 kWh battery will offer up to 50 km of electric-only driving range – in RWD only, of course – and with a 7.4 kW onboard charger, Level 2 top ups could take up to only 2.5 hours. There’s also a starter generator that transfers torque to the engine belt to help recharge the battery.
In a nod to Dodge’s muscle car heritage, heat extractors on the hood feature prominently at the front, as does a “mail-slot” that splits the uber slick front grille from the air intake-festooned, matte-black front bumper. Slim, LED headlamps complete the “Dodge attitude” at the front, while the rear is dominated by a full-width taillight, and, for the first time, an illuminated ‘Rhombi’ emblem. The GT and R/T run as standard on 17-inch Silver and 18-inch Graphite Grey wheels respectively, though a Blacktop Package also provides black 18-inch alloys, and gloss-black exterior badges and mirror caps as optional extras. 20-inch ‘Abyss’ wheels, accent colours and an embroidered Rhombi in the cabin are also available via the Track Pack.
In a neat touch, a Hornet emblem on the front flanks pays tribute to the Hornet name, introduced with the Hudson Hornet during the 1950s, and last used with the AMC Hornet station wagon during the 1970s, and, fleetingly, Dodge’s MPV-esque concept in 2006.
Inside, there’s a 12.3-inch driver-orientated cluster and a 10.3-inch infotainment on the centre consoles, “tipped” towards the driver in another example of the “Dodge DNA” (note also the flat-bottomed steering wheel). The standard interior comes with black cloth and contrast red stitching, though plump for the ‘Plus’ trims on both models, and these will be replaced with full leather. You’ll also get an updated, 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system.