With a sporty and fun car like the 2023 Dodge Hornet, the last thing you care about is whether there is a Wi-Fi signal available to passengers, a charging pad for your phone, or even an electronic tilt for the steering wheel. From the moment I sat down to drive my test car, what I really wanted to know was: is it fast?
At 268-horsepower with 290 lb.-ft. of torque, the Hornet is a hot hatch with enough space in the back for my bike (and a few other items). It’s fun to drive, but I found it was even more enjoyable when I had a good sense of what was happening with the engine.
Fortunately, there is a performance cluster that helped a ton. I could see the turbo indicator (from 0-33) and torque (up to a 400 rating) as I drove, check fuel consumption over time, and even measure the G-Force on the vehicle as I sped along country roads.
One of the really cool things about driving in my area is that there are plenty of curvy roads, marked at 55MPH. It means almost anywhere I go by my house, I can expect to hit a straightaway and then bank the car around a curve to see how it handles.
On one road, I pumped the gas and went around multiple curves near a lake, the bright sun arcing below the horizon line. I won’t mince words here — the Hornet is fun because it’s small and compact, and the engine is ready for some sprightly driving.
The G-force gauge is located in the main dash display above the steering wheel. To get to it, you have to navigate through a couple of menus, but it’s worth the find. You can see how the gauge responds when you punch it off a stop-sign, watching as it edges to the bottom of the display. When I hit those curves, I watched as the G-force also edged to the left, then the right.
In the main center console display, the performance gauges were also helpful because I could see, in real-time, how much turbo was propelling me along, especially when I started at another stop-sign. Yes, I like to pretend I’m in a race. No, I never went over the speed limit. It’s fun to imagine I’m on a track somewhere, at least based on the performance indicators.
The torque is also interesting. When you drive a fun small car like this, seeing real-time data like this helps you not only compare your driving to a few trips down the same road, but also measure how much you are pushing the vehicle. Torque is one of the most interesting measurements to me because it’s really indicating the “push” you are asserting for the large piece of metal and plastic with rubber tires down a road. A few times, I drove back to my original starting spot and inspected the torque again on the same curvy road.
I didn’t use the gauges for oil temp, transmission temp, or the battery as much, but with a car like this, more is more. It’s fun to see as much data as possible and to engage the senses — sights and sounds — in spirited driving to see how the car performs.
I liked the Hornet and it was fun to drive. It was even more of a thrill-ride when I could see what was actually happening under the hood.