Dodge’s multifaceted attempt to dominate the news this week had something for everyone, including the electric muscle car of the future in Charger Daytona SRT Concepta sunny swan song for the current musclecar in ragtop Challenger form and a modern take on classic muscle thanks to the 1970 Charger Finale Speed carbon fiber body.
But for the 14,000 people, the most important news from the Dodge Speed Week event was the launch 2023 Hornet. That’s the number of people in North America who pre-ordered a compact SUV in just 24 hours. The result is particularly impressive given that only the entry-level Hornet GT is available for pre-order; the more powerful and hybrid Hornet R/T won’t be on the menu until spring 2023.
It’s safe to assume that welcoming the Hornet will be welcome news for Alfa Romeo in North America. The Hornet and Alfa’s Tonale are almost identical apart from details, so if Dodge can get a bunch of orders for their SUV, why wouldn’t Alfa do the same trick with their version of the same car with the same transmission, especially since it has a more distinctive face and more exotic icon?
We hope Tonale does great things for the underperforming Italian brand, but we can think of a few reasons why Tonale might not be as enthusiastically received as its sibling. First, the Dodge brand is much better known in the US, especially among enthusiasts. And you can imagine that some potential buyers will mistakenly and unfairly place more trust in the mechanical quality and reliability of the Hornet than the Tonale, despite the fact that both cars are built side by side in the same plant in Naples, Italy, from the same components.
The same cars, but it seems so premium
And then there’s the price-for-horsepower ratio. The entry-level Hornet is priced at $29,995 and comes with a 2.0-liter Hurricane4 turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 265 hp. (269 hp) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque and drives all four wheels through nine. – high-speed automatic gearbox. That’s a pretty strong value. Alfa Romeo’s Tonale will come to the US later this year with the exact same powertrain, though the Italians, oddly enough, rate their version at 256 hp. (260 hp) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque.
Dodge quotes 6.5 seconds to 60 mph (96 km/h) for the base Hornet and 6.1 seconds for next year’s R/T, which drops to a 1.3-liter turbocharged four but adds a 285 electric motor l.z. (289 PS). and 383 lb-ft (519 Nm) of torque and can travel up to 30 miles (48 km) on electricity alone. Despite the difference in 9 hp. (9 hp), the Alfa will likely get very similar performance figures, but since it will be aimed at premium compact SUVs, it will likely cost significantly more than the Dodge.
We can’t be sure how much more, but a look at the competition gives us a clear idea. The BMW X1 xDrive28i, which also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with all-wheel drive, but only makes 241 hp. (245 hp), costs from $ 38,600. Q3 40 TFSi with 184 hp. (187 hp) from Audi isn’t currently available in the U.S., but the 45 TFSi Quattro that will go head-to-head with the Tonale 2.0 packs even less muscle than this BMW X1 (228 hp / 231 hp) and will set you back US$38,700 in its cheapest form.
The base Alfa car has more standard equipment
Even assuming that Alfa Romeo doesn’t try to use its power advantage over its rivals, but instead decides to undercut them to compensate for its weak brand recognition, the Tonale will still cost significantly more than the mechanically identical Hornet, something that will explained by the optional equipment on the Alfa. Only Tonale gets them sexy Trilobo LED headlightsits 18-inch base wheel is an inch larger than the Hornet’s, and Dodge makes you pay extra for adaptive cruise control.
But the bottom-step Dodge is still pretty well equipped, it’s a no-options car that comes with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 10.25-inch Uconnect 5 infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon connectivity Alexa and a full suite of security gadgets. And all the tasty tech available on the Alfa, from the Brembo brakes to the Harman-Kardon sound system, will also be available on the Dodge. It will be interesting to see how close the mid-level Hornet, with an equipment list matching the base Tonale, will come close in price to the entry-level Alfa.
Both look like strong packages to us, and based on the large order book Dodge has amassed for the Hornet, buyers think so too. So if the Tonale bombs, it will be the fault of the Alfa brand, not the Tonale itself.
Stellantis will be hoping that the different price positioning and brand appeal of the two cars means they don’t cannibalize each other’s sales. And maybe most buyers won’t cross-shop, but suppose you can buy a Hornet built to the same spec as the Tonale for less, are you willing to pay more for a prettier Alfa face? Do you even think it’s prettier, or do you like the way Hornet looks better? And who did the best with subtly different interior designs? Leave a comment and let us know.