The Dodge Hornet is a slightly modified Alfa Romeo Tonale, and it will be the main competitor of the Italian model in North America, where the Turin manufacturer is struggling to relaunch. This strategy from parent company Stellantis would make Alfa Romeo cringe.
It is an understatement to say that Alfa Romeo’s hopes of a return to prominence thanks to the Giulia and Stelvio have been somewhat dampened by the poor commercial performance of these models, in Europe but also in North America. After being announced there with the sports 4C of small series, it is actually with this sedan and this SUV in segment D that the Italian manufacturer had made its real return across the Atlantic. Undeterred, he intends to start on a better footing today with the Tonale, a C-segment crossover, a type of vehicle whose success continues to grow worldwide. But now Dodge, Alfa Romeo’s “sister” brand within the US-based Stellantis group, is unveiling its Hornet, which is none other thana very close technical cousin to Tonale, not to mention a rebadged Tonale. At Alfa Romeo, the pill would be difficult to pass.
Different bets for Alfa Romeo and Dodge
Alfa Romeo, responsible for producing the Dodge Hornet alongside its Tonale in Italy, would take a dim view of this fratricidal competition. While the Tonale is of crucial importance to the company in Turin, the Hornet will above all be marketed to allow Dodge to reduce the average CO2 emissions of its range in order to comply with the applicable regulations. It will indeed be the smallest model of the brand, whose range currently consists of the Charger and Challenger “muscle cars” as well as the no less muscular Durango SUV. An internal source at Alfa Romeo would have told American journalists The drive : ” Dodge took the opportunity to create a compliance car. It’s their Aston Martin Cygnet in a way. Let’s just say internal politics won out and Dodge had to improve its CAFE numbers. (the vehicle’s fuel consumption and emission regulations, editorial note)then the Hornet was born. »
Tonale and Hornet, too close cousins?
In the US as elsewhere, Alfa Romeo plays on a premium image, unlike Dodge, which is positioned in the niche of relatively accessible sportiness. The Hornet is therefore likely to be cheaper than the Tonale. The US price of the latter is not yet known, but Dodge has already announced a base price of under $30,000 (€29,547) for its crossover. And it will automatically offer “more than” 269 hp, digital instrumentation with two screens, reversing camera and radar, lane keeping assistant and 18-inch alloy wheels. It will even be offered as a plug-in hybrid like the Tonale. Aesthetically, the American model differs very little from the Italian one. Its front is what sets it apart the most (lights, grille, shield, etc.); other changes are minimal. ” Margins are thin in the C-segment, especially outside of luxury goods, so a manufacturer is quite limited to producing new metal parts that represent a large investment in tooling “, the informant would have emphasized.
An odd duel
To recap, the Dodge Hornet is in the US the product of a national brand, cheaper than its quasi-European twin, and available in a much larger commercial network than Alfa Romeo. Unsurprisingly, success already seems to be there for Dodge, which announced that it had received 14,000 pre-orders in the hours following the presentation of the vehicle. And on top of that, the Dodge Hornet should arrive at US dealerships by the end of this year, while the Alfa Romeo Tonale won’t be available in Uncle Sam’s land until early 2023.
With the Hornet, the Stellantis group can kill two birds with one stone: comply with Dodge’s stricter environmental regulations while making the most of its industrial investments. Security victim of this policy, Biscione will have to redouble his efforts to restore his name in America. “It’s annoying to have to be on the defensive,” the source reportedly said.
Source: The Drive