Alfa Romeo’s newest addition, the Tonale, puts a stake in the ground for the Italian manufacturer. The car reads ‘future’, and for Alfa, the Tonale marks the dawn of a new era.
The Tonale itself is nothing overly spectacular. It’s no sports car, but rather Alfa’s first compact SUV, designed to rival the likes of the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA. Even so, it’s still an Alfa, and almost any new Alfa is worth talking about.
A concept of the Tonale first surfaced three years ago, and it seems Alfa relished the praise and enthusiasm the car received that day. The production model is essentially identical to what was shown at the 2019 Geneva show. Really, all Alfa has done with the production model is beef up the size of the headlights and shrink down the wheels.
Why the Tonale is so significant for Alfa Romeo is answered beneath the bodywork. She is the brand’s first step into electrification.
There are two mild-hybrid variants of the Tonale, both using a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine paired with a 48V electric motor. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox keeps things shifting. Unfortunately, there is no manual option available.
The most powerful model is the Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) version. A 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine drives the front wheels with an electric motor mounted at the rear. Together, the set-up churns out an output of 275hp and has a 0-100 sprint time of a claimed 6.2 seconds.
Alfa has also ensured the Tonale has full electric capability. The car is supposedly good for a solid 80kms when running purely on batteries.
The Tonale’s shape is derived from the Jeep Compass, albeit with some sportier, Alfa-specific tweaks. For example, there’s a revamp of the front axle geometry for swifter direction changes.
Some quirky technological bobs make the Tonale more memorable in the eyes of Alfa. However, most are what you would expect from a top-end SUV. These include a 10.25-inch customizable touchscreen and a ‘GT Line’ that runs from the back to the headlights to give a racier look.
Alfa also claims the Tonale is the world’s first car to come with a non-fungible token (NFT). Though it’s best if you don’t ask us a lot about that side of things.
Alfa Romeo’s parent company Stellantis have said the brand will go fully electric by 2027. The first will be on sale by 2024 in a move Stellantis hopes reinvigorates Alfa Romeo’s sales. “If we’re not electrified, we’re dead,” Alfa’s CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said.
As for the Tonale, while it is not yet available in a full EV variant, Imparato says that idea is still on the table.
There is no price tag on the Tonale yet, but its rival Audi Q3 is currently going for around $62,000 for a starter model.
Whether the Tonale comes to New Zealand is unconfirmed. However, Australia is said to be receiving the 1.5-litre mild-hybrid model in the first half of 2023.
NZ Autocar magazine has reached out to Alfa Romeo to learn if the Tonale is on it’s way.