ESSAI – Alfa Romeo Tonale, l’Italien qui voulait faire mieux que le Peugeot 3008

Model of the revival of Alfa Romeo, the Tonale has two missions: to compete with the premium Germans and to take off the sales of the brand. To achieve this, it intends to capitalize on its style, technologies and driving experience.

Thunderclap in the automotive world… Or should we say, Tonale! Alfa Romeo is finally on the way to market his new SUV. This is good news for the brand, which will thus be expanding its starving range so far only made up of aging Stelvio and Giulia, but also for Alfists who have been waiting for many years ofa true renaissance of Biscione.

It must be said that it will have been necessary to be patient to see the Tonale land. Initially shown in concept form at Geneva in 2019, the newcomer has been delayed several times. First because of the merger between FCA and PSA, then because of the global pandemic and finally because thehe boss of the brand Jean-Philippe Imparato wanted it to be as successful as possible, up to German premium standards.

Good to know: anticipate the purchase and resale.

It is possible to know the resale or trade-in value of your vehicle thanks to the auto Turbo rating of your Alfa Romeo Tonale, the alternative to the Argus rating.

100% Alpha

One thing is certain, aesthetically, no Germanism. The Tonale is indeed 100% Italian, 100% Alfa. The trilobo of the front end is there, with the Scudetto grille and 3+3 headlights inspired by the SZ Zagato. The compact SUV stretches on a dynamic profile of 4.53 meters which will position it as a competitor to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA.

The more observant will have noticed other nods to the past such as 33 Stradale style rimsa rear window ofinspiration 8C and an Montreal green tint. Alfist friends don’t worry, no offense to the two launch colors (green and blue), Alfa red is present in the catalog. However, it is less highlighted in order to differentiate the Tonale from its big brother Stelvio.

An Italian finish

Once on board, it is very easy to get your bearings. The steering wheel is still the same, with the start button positioned under the left branch, the telescopic shape of the cap is reminiscent of the Alfas of yesteryear and the little italian flag under the gear lever reminds that it is indeed a model Made in Italyassembled in the Pomigliano d’Arco factory near Naples.

And as always with transalpine cars, everything is not perfect and this is obviously what contributes to their charm. Take the materials, in progress compared to the Stelvio and Giulia, they are still perfectible, and back compared to German premium. Stitched leather, chrome elements and foamed plastics are associated with numerous hard plastics, particularly on the dashboard and the top of the door panels. Same thing for some assemblies to review near the door handles.

Another point on which the Tonale was expected, his sense of hospitality. And Alfa’s SUV does not disappoint! Its access on board is easy, its rear legroom is quite good for adults and its headroom is more than sufficient for adults.. Only the middle passenger may be bothered by an intrusive central tunnel and a somewhat hard backrest, transforming into a ski hatch. For the rest, the trunk has also been well thought out since its volume of 500 liters can satisfy families who like to go on vacation. Even if the basic modularity (60/40 folding seat) would have deserved a little more care.

An up-to-date Alfa

On the other hand, and this is where we least expected it, the Tonale does not suffer from any criticism in terms of technologies. The 12-inch digital on-board instrumentation adjustable in several modes is readable and easy to use, as is the central 10-inch touch screen managing infotainment and coupled with the Alexa voice assistant. The icing on the ergonomics cake, Alfa has decided to keep physical orders for climate control, volume and the DNA drive mode selector.

The Milanese SUV even allows itself a small foray into the metaverse since it is the first vehicle on the market to be equipped withan NFT digital certificate (Non Fungible Token) or non-fungible token in French. In other words, a tamper-proof identity card, based on blockchain technology that will certify the Tonale upon purchase and throughout its existence. A kind of tamper-proof maintenance log associated with 5 year or 200,000 km warranty increasing the residual value of the model.

So many novelties for Alfa Romeo since the Tonale is the first hybrid Alfa Romeo. Moreover, no 100% thermal engine will be available in the catalog, customers will have to choose between two 48V mild hybridizations (130 and 160 hp) and a plug-in hybrid variant of 275 horsepower available later.

The Youngtimers madness – TURBO summary of 08/05/2022

Alfa spirit, are you there?

The 160 horsepower version features a 1.5 turbo petrol 4-cylinder (with variable geometry, a first) associated with the 7-speed TCT dual-clutch gearbox and a small 48-volt electric motor with 15 kW and 55 Nm of torque housed in the transmission. The small 0.8 kWh battery allows the Tonale to start, drive very slowly and park in electric mode. Hardly more!

In town, the system is convincing. The Tonale turns the heads of passers-by in silence, and in good comfort even without controlled damping (optional). Typed a little firm, dynamic DNA obliges, the suspension of the Tonale has the merit of maintaining the body of the SUV well in turns. The road behavior is successful and the Italian is very pleasant to take along on winding courses.

Its direction, a little less direct than on the Stelvio and the Giulia, is precise and generous in feedback, except at the midpoint which is a bit too soft. And its well-guided front axle perfectly digests the 160 horsepower. Finally, the driving experience is much sportier than with its cousin Jeep Compass with whom it shares its chassis, reinforced for the occasion at the front and rear. This should make Alfists allergic to SUVs digest the pill a little better!

Engine, disappointment!

Ultimately, the big disappointment concerns the engine-gearbox assembly outside of urban routes. The slightest accelerated acceleration (240 Nm of torque) will cause vibrations and vocalizations not really pleasant for the driver and his passengers. But above all, it is the shifting time of the gears which is surprising its slownesssometimes giving the impression of driving with an old automatic transmission and not a state-of-the-art double-clutch.

DNA’s Dynamic mode – the driving mode selector – does not change this, the transmission remains slow and the rise in speed even becomes caricatural. Unusual for an Alfa! The Tonale plug-in hybrid with 275 horsepower and 4WD should probably erase all that. In the meantime, beware of consumption since on the narrow, winding and congested roads of Lake Como, the Tonale was gluttonous by drinking an average of 10 liters of Unleaded per 100 km.

Alfa Romeo’s compact SUV has a prime target in sight, the BMW X1. Without forgetting the Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3. But whether in terms of finish and engines, the Tonale is a notch below the competition. Even a Peugeot 3008, yet a generalist, seems more homogeneous from a mechanical point of view.

Sold from €35,400the Tonale displays a premium rate which it justifies by its larger dimensions, its electrified range and its numerous technologies. A price that will easily exceed €40,000 in its sportier Super and Sprint versions.

Alfa Romeo Tonale Technical Sheet
Model tested: Alfa Romeo Tonale 1.5 48V 160 hp Ti
Dimensions L x W x H 4.528 / 1.841 / 1.601m
Wheelbase 2.636m
Minimum / maximum trunk volume 500 / 1,550 liters
Unloaded weight 1.525 kg
Engine displacement 4-cylinder Turbo, petrol – 1,469 cc
Engine power 160 hp
Couple 240Nm
0 to 100 km/h 8.8s
Max speed 210 km/h
CO2 rate Between 130 and 144 g/km
Prices From €35,400

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