Dodge Dart • Past Hornet cars: Hudson Hornet • AMC Hornet • 2006 Dodge Hornet Concept
With Dodge Caliber being dropped on December 23, 2011, rumor had a new car based on a Fiat taking on the Caliber name. Chrysler applied for trademarks on Hornet, Dodge Dart, Dodge Duster, and — believe it or not — Dodge Camber.
The car was in early pilot production in late October 2011.
As early as 2009, this car was planned on extended Fiat C-EVO dimensions and the Fiat electronics network, along with a retuned Chrysler World Gas Engine and the 1.4 liter turbocharged Fiat engine.
Reliable source oh2o predicted what we got in the Dodge Dart with a surprising level of detail, getting nothing wrong. With oh2o, PhantomSpazz, and our own thoughts, we estimated 160 hp for the 1.4, and 185 hp for the 2.4, with 170 lb-ft of torque (a tad optimistic); we guessed “a bit over 32 mpg” on the 2.4 and were right, as it came in at 33 mpg. “PhantomSpazz” confirmed numerous other points of appearance and pricing that turned out to be accurate.
The name Dodge Hornet was (incorrectly) predicted by Allpar long in advance. “duster92” wrote: “The SRT engineers occasionally hold webchats. Before a recent webchat, the Engineers stipulated that they could not talk about the Hornet SRT4.”
J. White saw spy shots of an obvious mule with a Caliber body shell in May 2010, with a carbon-fiber hood, presumably to make it easier to get to the engine. The stance and length looked similar to those of the Lancia Delta, but the wheels had just four bolts. The Delta's wheelbase is three inches longer than Caliber the wheels appeared to be a few inches different from Caliber, so that might have worked. (Body shells on mules serve to hide the car underneath, and look normal from a reasonable distance so average people don’t see anything unusual).
Dan Minick and MadWasp believed the Hornet will be built in Belvidere, Illinois, which is being expanded with a 550,000 square foot body shop. This turned out to be correct.
The first Dodge Hornet was the 2006 Dodge Hornet concept car, a subcompact with a turbocharged 1.6 liter engine, functional hood scoop, and manual transmission; company officials said it was to be a Nissan Cube variant "based on a unique Chrysler concept and design."
The Dodge Hornet was powered by a 1.6 liter supercharged engine with 170 hp and 165 lb-ft (224 Nm) of torque (both at 4,000 rpm). The “Tritec” engine, used in the Mini, was jointly developed by Chrysler and Rover. Chrysler ended up selling its share (about half of the plant’s production) to Chinese auto companies. The supercharged 1.6 produces more power in less space than the World Engine, but costs more to produce. (Thanks, my.IS, for bringing our attention to information.)
Following the original Nissan Cube-based concept, there were moves onto different architectures. Rumors started floating that the final Hornet would be sharing the basic chassis of the new Mercedes A-Class, with joint engineering by Chrysler and Mercedes. Then Automotive News claimed that the Hornet would be engineered in China by Chery, bolstered by independent sources who claimed that Chrysler engineers had been sent to China to work on it.
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