Born-again Dodge Hornet still buzzing around the rumor mill Leave a comment

Dodge has finally figured out what kind of car it will put the Hornet nameplate on, according to a recent report. One of the world’s least-favorite insects will allegedly soon have a small, Alfa Romeo-derived crossover named after it.

Website Passione Auto Italiane learned from unnamed sources that the Hornet will land as a Dodge-specific version of the Alfa Romeo Tonale, a city-friendly soft-roader that will slot below the Stelvio when it finally makes its debut. It notes both models will be built on the same assembly line in Pomigliano d’Arco, near the Italian city of Naples, and it adds that the Dodge variant will not be sold in Europe, where the brand no longer has an official presence.

Don’t look for a Hellcat V8 under the hood: Power will reportedly come from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Front-wheel-drive will come standard, and all-wheel-drive will be offered at an extra cost. It’s reasonable to assume buyers will have at least one hybrid option to choose from, because the Tonale was recently delayed by Alfa Romeo boss Jean-Philippe Imparato after he demanded better performance from the gasoline-electric system. If it fits in the Jeep, it fits in the Dodge, and going hybrid will help one of the V8’s last bastions reduce its emissions.

While the Hornet will arrive in the United States with an Italian passport, its underpinnings will be more apple pie- than cannoli-flavored. Alfa Romeo is borrowing components from the Jeep Compass to turn the Tonale concept unveiled in 2019 into a production car, so many of these bits will end up under Dodge’s entry-level model, too.

Executives haven’t commented on the rumor. Dodge trademarked the name Hornet in 2020, a move which adds fuel to the fire, but a trademark filing is never a guarantee that the terms being protected will reach production.

If the report is accurate, we’ll have more information to share about the Dodge Hornet in the coming months, and it could appear in showrooms in 2022 as a 2023 model. Alfa Romeo’s Tonale is about a year away from launch, too. In the meantime, we’ve reached out to the firm for additional details, and we’ll update this story if we learn more. 

What’s in a name?

Dodge received the Hornet nameplate as a hand-me-down after parent company Chrysler absorbed American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1987. AMC used it on a compact model built from the 1970 to 1977 model years and available in several body styles. Dodge slept on it until 2006, when it put it on a decidedly European-flavored concept (shown above) that was unveiled at the Geneva auto show. It was reportedly approved for production, first on a platform co-developed with China’s Chery, then through a partnership with Nissan that should have spawned a Dodge Ram-based Titan, and finally with help from Fiat. Dodge’s entry into one of Europe’s biggest segments was ultimately canceled after a series of setbacks (including the 2009 financial crisis) repeatedly delayed the project. 

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