Alfa Romeo Tonale 2022 review

A premium European carmaker has revealed its cheapest car and is expected to arrive in Australia early next year.

Although named after a high pass in northern Italy, the new Tonale will wear a lower price than any other Alfa Romeo. This makes the small five-seater SUV an effective replacement for the discontinued Giulietta hatchback in 2020.

The Tonale will arrive in Australia in the first quarter of next year. To compete with obvious rivals from premium European brands, such as Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Volvo XC40, the Italian newcomer will have to be priced around $ 50,000.

It will take months for brand owner Stellantis to finalize the Tonale model range and pricing for Australia.

The hybrid variants, the first electrified models of Alfa Romeo, will be the first to come off the assembly line. Four models will be available: the Super, the Sprint and the more powerful Ti and Veloce. All four are front-wheel drive.

By the end of the year, the Pomigliano d’Arco plant outside Naples will add a plug-in hybrid variant. The PHEV will be the high performance tone. In addition to a large increase in power, it will add all-wheel drive.

Alfa Romeo only brought the Ti and Veloce versions of the Tonale to the international launch event on Lake Como.

These have the same 1.5-liter fours as the Super and Sprint, but a more hi-tech variable geometry turbo boosts maximum power from 96kW to 118kW.

The Tonale’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is integrated with an electric motor that draws current from a small lithium-ion battery under the tunnel between the front seats.

The 15 kW electric motor means the Alfa can do more electric driving than the typical low-voltage hybrid. In slow stop-start traffic the Tonale crawls, the engine is silent. Using a very light foot on the accelerator, it is sometimes possible to reach 30-40km / h before the engine starts.

Foot on the ground, with the electric motor increasing the power of the turbo quattro, the Tonale is not a thriller. Performance is adequate, not thrilling. And the engine generates humming vibrations in the area between 3000 and 4000 rpm.

The Alfa’s seven-speed dual-clutch car could also be smoother and smarter. Gear changes, especially at lower speeds, can be jerky. And the transmission control software doesn’t seem particularly vigilant; there is often a tedious wait before he decides which gear he wants next.

Taking manual control of the shift is more enjoyable in the Veloce, which comes with adorable column-mounted aluminum shift paddles that the Ti doesn’t get.

Another important Veloce update is the adaptive dampers. These bring a noticeable improvement in ride comfort over the Ti’s very stiff suspension configuration.

Alfa Romeo’s engineers aimed to make the Tonale a sportier drive than other small premium SUVs, but they missed the mark. The steering is light and very direct, but totally free and prone to writhing in the driver’s hands during acceleration. Although the brakes are powerful, the Brake-by-Wire system feels hypersensitive and difficult to modulate.

While not an Italian dream to drive, the Tonale is at least a pleasure to see. The curvy and gracefully proportioned exterior is more attractive than its natural competitors.

Inside, the Alfa is spacious, attractive and looks quite well done, with updated technology. Both the instrument display and the center display are TFT screens. The customizable Android-based touchscreen infotainment features Alexa voice control and can be updated over the air. The system is also responsive, like a good smartphone.

There are many options for charging digital devices; a neatly angled inductive pad at the front of the center console plus a pair of standard front and rear USB and USB-C ports.

Alfa also introduces a significant innovation in the automotive sector; is the first car in the world to be linked to a non-fungible token (NFT) certificate. This technology allows you to keep an incorruptible digital record of each Tonal’s in-service life.

With the owner’s permission, the NFT can be used to create a certificate of the car’s history, a move the automaker says will increase Tonale’s resale value.

ALFA ROMEO TONALE Ti VITALI

PRICE $ 55,000 (estimate)

SAFETY Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, speed limit sign recognition

MOTOR 1.5-liter 4-cylinder turbo; 118kW and 240Nm

MOTOR 48 volts; 15 kW / 55 Nm

THIRST 5.7-6.3 l / 100 km

0-100 KM / H 8.8 seconds

Originally published as Alfa Romeo Tonale 2023 review