Electrification once again dominates our latest roundup of auto industry news, in which Stellantis prices new subcompact crossover models from Alfa Romeo and Dodge, Chevrolet reveals the first-ever hybrid Corvette, and Mazda adds driving range and rotary power to its MX-30 EV.
Alfa Romeo prices Tonale subcompact SUV at $44,995
Alfa Romeo has announced that pricing for its first subcompact SUV model, the Tonale, starts at $44,995 in base form and $54,995 when equipped with an optional plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain.
Entry-level Tonale models use a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine making 256 hp/295 lb-ft of torque, whose power goes through a nine-speed transmission and standard AWD. In PHEV form, a 1.3L turbo engine works with a rear-mounted electric motor to produce 285 hp. Meanwhile, a 15.5-kWh battery promises “more than 48 km of electric range,” according to Alfa’s parent company, Stellantis.
The words “more than” are important here: The company says Tonale buyers will qualify for a $5,000 zero-emissions vehicle rebate from the Canadian federal government, which requires battery range of at least 50 km.
When the Tonale reaches Alfa showrooms in the first quarter of 2023, it will be equipped with a suite of driver assists including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning/mitigation, lane keep assist, and driver attention warning. Buyers will also get a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, a digital gauge cluster, wireless phone charging, and over-the-air update software capability.
2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid will boast 655 hp
This year marks a major step in the evolution of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car, which will get its first-ever gas-electric hybrid powertrain in a new variant called E-Ray.
Chevrolet says the Corvette E-Ray’s 655 hp comes from a front-mounted 160-hp electric motor working in concert with the car’s existing rear-mounted 6.2L V8. Chevy claims the E-Ray will sprint from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 2.5 seconds and cover the standing quarter mile in 10.5 seconds. Both of those acceleration figures edge out the Corvette’s current speed champion, the Z06, by a tenth of a second.
The electric motor’s placement at the front axle also means the E-Ray will be the first all-wheel drive Corvette in the car’s 70-year history.
While the E-Ray’s hybrid system is designed primarily to enhance performance, it can help save fuel in light-throttle driving by running the gas engine on four of eight cylinders while the electric motor picks up the slack. Meanwhile, a “stealth mode” will provide limited all electric driving range at speeds up to 72 km/h (45 mph).
Chevrolet also says the E-Ray’s AWD setup will enhance racetrack driving by varying the amount of torque delivered to the front wheels, while a special drive mode will maximize the battery’s charge in extended track lapping.
The 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray is set to go on sale later this year at $128,798. Standard features will include high-performance carbon ceramic brakes, a driver-adjustable magnetic ride control suspension, and a suite of driver safety assists shared with other Corvette models.
2023 Dodge Hornet priced at $40,190 in Canada
The Dodge Hornet, the brand’s first-ever subcompact crossover model, reached the brand’s dealers at the beginning of 2023 with a starting price of $40,190 in GT trim, a shade more than the sub-$40,000 MSRP Dodge promised at the Hornet’s reveal in summer 2022.
That’s a lot of money for a small SUV from a mainstream brand: The Hornet’s starting point is only about $5,000 less than that of the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which rides on similar underpinnings, and it’s more than many of Dodge’s competitors charge for their fully loaded trim subcompact crossovers. The Hornet’s standard features include dual-zone A/C, a digital gauge cluster, passive keyless entry, and power-folding side mirrors. However, heated seats are optional.
Dodge parent company Stellantis’s hope is that the Hornet’s high-performance focus helps set it apart from lower-priced competitors. Dodge claims the 268-hp, 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine is the most powerful base engine in the Hornet’s class; indeed, it boasts a nearly 100-hp surplus over cars like the Honda HR-V, Toyota Corolla Cross, and the Jeep Renegade – another Stellantis product.
This spring, Dodge will follow up with the Hornet R/T, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant whose 1.3L engine and electric motor will make 288 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque.
Mazda reveals details of rotary-powered MX-30 plug-in hybrid
Mazda has released a few key technical details about the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV it revealed in January at the Brussels auto show, a range-extended version of the brand’s existing MX-30 EV.
The MX-30 R-EV will be Mazda’s first rotary-powered vehicle since the 2011 RX-8 sports car, and will use that rotary engine to improve overall driving range over the current all-electric MX-30’s 161 km. Mazda says the rotary will not drive the MX-30’s wheels directly; instead, it will power a generator to feed the electric motor with 168 hp, up from the all-electric model’s 143 hp.
However, a smaller battery means the R-EV’s electric-only range will drop to about 85 km before the gas engine comes on to keep the MX-30 going for a total of 640 km before needing a recharge and/or fuel fill-up. Those range estimates are based on European efficiency test methods, which are more optimistic than North American protocols, so both electric and gas range estimates will be lower in cars destined for this continent.
The caveat is that Mazda has not confirmed whether it will even offer the MX-30 R-EV in North America, where it may focus on the forthcoming CX-70 and CX-90 PHEV crossover models set to make their respective debuts later this year.