Alfa Romeo Tonale should stand out noticeably
Alfa Romeo has recently disappeared more and more clearly from the automotive world stage. The small car MiTo was no longer built after 2018, and the compact Giulietta followed in 2020. Since then, only the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio SUV have held the flag high for the Turin company, with global sales falling to just 56,000 units last year. With the incorporation into the Stellantis Group in 2021, things will not get any easier for the Italians, they too have to find a way into an electric future. Stellantis itself plans to switch to a new scalable platform family called STLA (pronounced Stella) for this change, with the first concrete model prospects probably starting in 2023.
But let’s put the crystal ball aside at this point, because this text is primarily about him here: the new Alfa Romeo Tonale. A compact SUV with a premium claim that is supposed to stand out from the competition with its truly illustrious name.
Tonale with brand-typical design signature
With a length of 4.53 meters, a width of 1.84 meters and a height of 1.60 meters, the Alfa Romeo Tonale clearly competes with the German premium entourage of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA. But its dimensions also reveal that the Tonale shares the base with the Jeep Compass under the bodywork. Visually, so much can already be written from a subjective point of view, the compact SUV remains a real Alfa Romeo; the comparison to the American platform brother never comes to mind. Crisp proportions allow the viewer to wander from front to back, the aggressive front section in particular unmistakably shows a design signature that is typical of the brand.
A large trilobo grille is emblazoned in the center, flanked by three-part full LED matrix headlights. They have their origins in the Alfa Romeo SZ Zagato sports car and, like the rear lights in the style of a sine curve, are intended to create an emotional appearance. Light-alloy rims in the classic five-hole design are now available from 18 to 19 inches, small details such as the tricolor on the exterior mirrors also speak an extremely detailed language.
Available from April in five equipment lines
A total of five different equipment variants will ensure even more variety and individuality at the market launch from April 2022. In the case of the Tonale, SUPER stands for the entry-level model, followed by the SPRINT equipment line and the Ti character line. In the best sporting tradition, the provisional top version is nicknamed VELOCE. The EDIZIONE SPECIALE special model will also be available especially for the market launch.
Wide range of engines including diesel
Many Alfisti were really excited about the range of engines in the Tonale. There are no big surprises, but there are significant changes in detail compared to the Jeep Compass. In addition to a new petrol engine, a stronger plug-in hybrid variant is also used. In Turin, too, they are sticking to diesel for the time being.
The engines, according to the current state of knowledge, at a glance (vehicle is not yet for sale, homologation pending)²:
- 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, 48-volt mild hybrid with 96 kW/130 hp
- 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, 48-volt mild hybrid with 118 kW/160 hp
- 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, plug-in hybrid with 202 kW/275 hp
- 1.6 liter turbo diesel with 96 kW/130 hp and 320 Nm torque
The 1.5-liter petrol engine with VGT turbocharger developed exclusively for Alfa Romeo is available in the two available power levels in conjunction with the 48-volt electric motor “P2”, which can contribute an additional 15 kW and 33 Nm of torque if required. According to Alfa, shorter distances should be able to be covered purely electrically without the intervention of the combustion engine – the same applies to parking manoeuvres. All variants, with the exception of the diesel, are linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The diesel is meanwhile connected to a 6-speed double clutch.
Particular attention will be paid to the plug-in hybrid, which will be available a little later in 2022. The 275 hp system output accelerates the Tonale from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.2 seconds and also enables a combined electric range of up to 60 kilometers according to WLTP. This means that the Italian still qualifies for part of the German environmental bonus, depending on the net list price then announced. Initially the only Alfa Tonale, the plug-in hybrid comes with Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel drive as standard, with the rear axle being driven solely by the electric motor, as in the Jeep 4xe models.
Well-known sporty interior, redefined
According to Alfa, the interior of the Tonale should be equipped with high-quality materials and at least the first pictures of the cockpit give hope for a corresponding implementation. The three-spoke sports steering wheel looks familiar from the Giulia, the extra-large shift paddles on the valance create a decidedly dynamic first impression. A razor-sharp 12.3-inch instrument cluster avoids major design escapades with three selectable views and is one thing above all: factual.
In contrast, the center console with the central 10.25-inch infotainment screen with touch function is strongly reminiscent of current BMW models. Alternatively, operation can also be implemented using a rotary pushbutton switch. Known from Giulia and Stelvio is the DNA switch, with which the driving characteristics of the Tonale can be adjusted from comfortable to sporty.
Android Auto, in combination with the voice assistant Amazon Alexa, also promises quick operation in the style of current Maserati models. Over-the-air updates and 4G are de rigueur, and an Alfa Connect service is intended to round off the functionality digitally. The other (partly optional and equipment-dependent) equipment features include: a 14-speaker Hamann/Kardon sound system, ventilated and heated electric front seats, a semi-automatic parking system, an inductive charging station and numerous assistants that are supposed to master level 2 semi-automated driving.
First production vehicle with NFT
For the first time ever in a production vehicle, the Alfa Romeo Tonale uses a digital certificate that records the entire life cycle of the vehicle. The counterfeit-proof non-fungible token, NFT for short, is based on blockchain technology and documents the life of an Alfa Romeo Tonale from production to the current owner, including service stations, any recalls and other work on the vehicle. According to Alfa, this certificate is intended, among other things, to increase the resale value.
Market launch and prices
Orders for the new Alfa Romeo Tonale are expected to start in April, with the market launch planned for the second quarter of 2022. The crossover, which rolls off the assembly line at the Stellantis Giambattista Vico plant in Pomigliano d’Arco in southern Italy, will initially be available as a petrol and diesel engine, with the plug-in hybrid to follow a little later. Alfa is not yet naming prices, but the Tonale will probably be based on the Jeep Compass, which costs from 31,900 euros in the basic version, while the PHEV version comes to at least 44,100 euros (combined fuel consumption, weighted: 6.6-1.9 l /100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 152-45 g/km)².
The Alfa Romeo Tonale could come at just the right time for the Turin company and skilfully plays the brand’s typical design trump card. It is now important that the Italian not only arouses emotions on the outside, but also makes them tangible in the drive train. Particular attention is paid here to the driving dynamics implementation of the plug-in hybrid and whether the communicated quality standards in the interior really arrive in the series. Both points were major points of criticism, especially with the close relative Jeep Compass. (Text: Thomas Vogelhuber | Pictures: manufacturer)