The Giulia and Stelvio were supposed to bring about Alfa Romeo’s long-awaited rebirth, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Good as those cars are, they’ve never sold in large numbers. Thankfully, the Stellantis-owned brand has just the thing to kick some life into the brand. A crossover.
Yes, it’s yet another high-rider, but this is an Alfa. And wouldn’t you rather see a Tonale road than yet another Nissan Qashqai or something similarly dull?
Alfa has its sights set beyond such vehicles, however, hoping to pinch sales from the premium giants of the car world like Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Size-wise, it’s similar to something like an Audi Q3, and what’s under that handsome body isn’t quite as spicy as the ‘Giorgio’ architecture used for the bigger Stelvio.
In place of a rear-drive platform with front double wishbones is a transverse, predominantly front-wheel drive affair with MacPherson struts front and rear. You can, however, have the rear wheels powered by an electric motor in the plug-in hybrid version.
The motor supplements a 1.3-litre MultiAir inline-four found in various other Stellantis products. Combined, you’re looking at 271bhp, making for a 0-62mph time of just 6.2 seconds. The 15.5kWh battery pack meanwhile provides up to 50 miles of electric-only range.
Alternatively, there are a couple of 1.5-litre four-pot petrol options, both featuring 48-volt mild-hybrid systems and variable vane turbochargers. The entry-level version develops 128bhp, while the mid-range Tonale is good for 157, the same output as a non-hybrid 1.6-litre diesel that completes the line-up. These three use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the hybrid is paired with a traditional six-speed automatic. Whichever version you pick, you can’t have it with a manual gearbox. Sorry.
Although it might not have the chassis hardware chops of its saloon and SUV siblings, the Tonale should be much more satisfying to drive than the average crossover. A steering ratio of 13.6 is the most direct in class, and all models have the ideal 50:50 weight distribution. The dampers, co-developed by Koni, feature frequency selective damping, and you also get four-piston front brakes from Brembo.
The cabin owes much to the Stelvio and Giulia, with a similar-looking dashboard, a DNA rotary drive-mode selector and a steering wheel that seems to have been lifted straight from those cars. Yep, that includes the snazzy column-mounted paddle shifters made from aluminium. It should feel a lot nicer inside, though, with Alfa making a big push towards quality under CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato, who joined the brand last year.
Pricing isn’t available just yet, but we’re expecting the range to start at about £35,000 in the UK, where the diesel is unlikely to be sold. Super, Ti, Sprint and Veloce trim levels will be available, and eventually, there might just be a Quadrifoglio too. At a digital preview event for the Tonale, it was said such a thing was technically possible and could be introduced if there’s sufficient demand.