Before the arrival of the Tonale, the Alfa Romeo range could only count on two products after the disappearance of the Giulietta and the MiTo: the Giulia and the Stelvio. Two models in the Alfa Romeo DNA, it is undeniable, with particularly successful spicy versions, but these two products alone cannot ensure a future for the Italian manufacturer.
The revival of Alfa Romeo goes through the Stellantis group, which intends to restore the image of the brand. Although Alfa Romeo has recently become profitable again, the product plan must now face new objectives.
Alfa Romeo will only offer electric cars from 2027. The manufacturer’s first electric model will arrive in 2024, it will be a B-segment SUV and technical cousin of the Jeep Avenger. It will also be available as a plug-in hybrid. In 2025, the firm at Biscione will present its first purely electric car, and Jean-Philippe Imparato, the boss of the brand, has promised us something “very Alfa Romeo” , even if it will be an electric model. .
A real Alfa Romeo in style
But while waiting for the arrival of these electric cars, Alfa Romeo is launching the Tonale, an SUV that is placed opposite models like the Volvo XC40, the new BMW X1 or the Audi Q3. The Tonale is 4.53 meters long, 1.84 meters wide and 1.60 meters high. It benefits from a design that is specific to it, even if it shares many of its technical elements with the Jeep Compass.
Some will find it a bit like SZ Zagato because of the shape of the sinusoidal matrix and adaptive front headlights, or even this “GT” profile line reminiscent of the shape of the Giulia GT of the 1960s and 1970s. style element, you have to be a little more imaginative. The 20-inch rims undoubtedly add a little sporty side to our model.
Sporty atmosphere, even inside
After reviewing the design of our test model with the high-end “Veloce” finish, let’s move on to the interior. The Alfa Romeo Tonale has a 12.3-inch digital display and a 10.25-inch central touchscreen. The general ergonomics are quite good, especially with this row of shortcuts under the touch screen.
The graphics of the screens are good, the ergonomics of the menus a bit complex, while the screen suffers from slight latency times. The quality of the materials is quite uneven, with very poor quality plastics on the storm doors, while the dashboard of our “Veloce” test version is adorned with a foamed plastic of good quality and Alcantara on some items.
Impossible to arrive on this ultra-competitive segment without technologies. The Tonale is equipped with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant and also has 4G connectivity to receive updates remotely.
In terms of habitability, the space on board is not obvious by moving to the front seats, the center console being quite bulky. It’s a little better in the rear seats, where a 1.80 meter adult will feel quite comfortable, with enough knee space, even if you don’t have to be too tall since the roof guard is n is not extraordinary.
The trunk is not extraordinary either, Alfa Romeo announces a volume of 385 liters for this plug-in hybrid version, roughly the same capacity as an Audi Q3 TFSI e. That’s a hundred liters less than the 160 hp hybrid version we tested a few months ago.
The Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV in a few figures
Under the hood, let’s say this Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid struggled to find the right formula during its genesis. The engineers had to review several elements when Jean-Philippe Imparato arrived at the head of the manufacturer in January 2021, with in particular a new battery and a new tank allowing the vehicle to have a range of more than 600 km.
The Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid Q4 benefits from four-wheel drive thanks to the presence of a 1.3-litre four-cylinder MultiAir turbo petrol engine with 180 hp and 270 Nm, and a 122 hp electric motor at the axle. back. This engine is powered by a battery with a capacity of 15.5 kWh. According to the WLTP cycle, the car can travel 69 km in the combined cycle without starting its heat engine, while it can reach more than 80 km in an urban environment.
To finish with the figures, the Tonale plug-in hybrid develops 280 hp in total, with a 0 to 100 km / h shot in 6.2 seconds. The battery can be recharged on a 3 kW socket in 5h30 and 2h30 on a 7.4 kW Wallbox. In all-electric mode, the Tonale can go up to 135 km/h.
On the road
Our test took place in the north of Italy, between Turin and Milan, on an oscillating route between urban areas and winding departmental roads. We managed to cover about 53 km in all-electric mode, without increasing the pace. Autonomy not really at the level of what is advertised, but which remains equivalent to other cars in this segment.
Once the battery is empty after forcing the electric mode, the heat engine takes over, but even if the battery shows 0% autonomy, it retains enough energy to fulfill its hybrid role and assist the valiant thermal block . In fact, the Tonale PHEV makes 280 hp, but 280 “Italian” hp, let’s say, since they don’t all seem to be present. Too bad, but that doesn’t matter much for a car that prefers to chase CO2 and seduce companies.
On the other hand, in terms of chassis, the synthesis between dynamism and comfort is excellent. It is undoubtedly one, if not the best compromise, of the category. The steering is very incisive, the front axle does not dive too much under braking, the body movements are well maintained, while the suspensions filter the roughness of the Italian roads rather well.
Alfa Romeo is so confident of the dynamic behavior of its Tonale that we even had the right to a short circuit session. Four laps on the Balocco test track which made it possible to highlight the qualities that we had noted on open roads, although obviously the Tonale PHEV is not a sports SUV and the limits are quickly reached.
The six-speed automatic gearbox, smooth if not really fast, has nothing really sporty about it. The transition between electric and thermal is rather well managed, with little vibration, even if the thermal engine turns out to be a little too noisy. Strangely, if the noise is not really pleasant to the ear inside, outside and at the exhaust, the four-cylinder emits a growl that is all in all quite pleasant.
Our only regret would perhaps be the 1.3-litre four-cylinder internal combustion engine, which lacks a bit of roundness and which sometimes turns out to be a little too loud at mid-range. We were unable to establish a normalized mixed consumption on our test route, which was a little too short, especially since we forced the use of the electric motor over around fifty kilometres.
In terms of prices, the Alfa Romeo Tonale starts from 51,000 euros for the “Edizione Speziale” finish. Our “Veloce” trial version starts from 56,000 euros. It comes as standard with several interesting features, including level 2 autonomous driving, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear parking radars and even the induction charger for smartphones.
Compared to the competition, is generally in line with the average of its German or Swedish colleagues. The 245 hp Audi Q3 45 TFSI e starts from 48,470 euros, the 211 hp Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 (without all-wheel drive) claims 52,050 euros, while the 245 hp BMW X1 xDrive25e starts from 51 370 euros.
The Tonale is made in Gianbattista Vico’s factory in Pomigliano d’Arco, near Naples. It will be launched with an NFT digital certificate capable of communicating on the life of the car, which proves to be an asset when selling the car since it guarantees that the car has been well maintained.