For years, the dream of owning an Alfa Romeo has been associated with images of stylish, open-top sports cars cruising along the scenic Amalfi coast. However, with the introduction of the Alfa Romeo Tonale, the Italian automaker has set its sights on a more pragmatic approach, appealing to actual car buyers seeking a compact crossover with sensible performance.
Named “Toh-nar-lee” (in case you were wondering), the Tonale is a hybrid-only offering for UK buyers, signaling Alfa Romeo's commitment to full electrification by 2027. This strategic move places the Tonale on the radar of fleet buyers, thanks to its lower taxation compared to the petrol or diesel-powered Giulia and Stelvio.
Stylish and sporty, the Tonale confidently stands against strong rivals like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes GLA. Its design, which remains largely unchanged from its 2019 concept version, boasts Alfa Romeo's signature elements, such as the slim triple-barrel LED headlights and iconic five-hole wheels. The elegant shield grille serves as a highlight, showcasing Alfa Romeo's timeless and sophisticated approach to frontal styling.
Under the hood, the Tonale offers a fully hybrid range, with the top-of-the-line Tonale Q4 boasting a plug-in hybrid powertrain, 275bhp, and all-wheel drive, courtesy of an electrically driven rear axle. This high-performance variant impresses with its low CO2 emissions (as low as 29g/km) and around 40 miles of emissions-free range, making it an enticing option for business car buyers. However, its luxury and performance come at a price, with the starting price around £45,000, and higher-spec models easily surpassing £50,000 with added features.
For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, the front-wheel-drive Tonale, starting below £40,000, delivers 158bhp and lacks plug-in hybrid capabilities. Nevertheless, it's equipped with a turbocharged engine and an efficient “Miller cycle” feature for improved fuel efficiency, even running in the mild-hybrid 48V mode.
The Tonale's hybrid powertrain delivers an impressive driving experience, with the ability to drive in pure EV mode in certain conditions, particularly when the Dynamic mode of the DNA drive mode selector is activated. This feature allows for silent electric driving in half of the WLTP test cycle, making it an appealing option for eco-conscious drivers.
Underneath the stylish exterior, the Tonale shares some platform and suspension components with the Jeep Compass. However, Alfa Romeo has undertaken significant reworking to transform it into a sharp and road-biased crossover, emphasizing its agile and spirited driving characteristics on open roads. However, in urban environments, the Tonale's sporty nature may require a bit more effort.
With the Alfa Romeo Tonale, the Italian automaker has struck a compelling balance between style, performance, and efficiency. Embracing hybrid technology as a stepping stone towards full electrification, the Tonale paves the way for Alfa Romeo's future offerings in the world of electrified vehicles. Practical, sporty, and unmistakably Alfa, the Tonale is a crossover that combines the best of both worlds for the discerning car buyer.