2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale mild-hybrid review

It’s not easy being an Alfa Romeo Tonale. You see, the mere mention of Alfa Romeo will invoke images of the stunning 8C Competizione, and in more recent times, the BMW M3 rivalling twin turbo V6 Guilia Quadrifoglios.

The Tonale on the other hand is a small luxury SUV, albeit beautifully styled with Alfa Romeo DNA, that competes with the likes of the Audi Q3, Lexus UX, Volvo XC40, BMW X1.

It has the unenviable task of convincing die-hard Alfa fans that it’s worthy of the famed Italian badge while appealing to a new breed of buyers looking for something a little…. less common.

This isn’t the first time Alfa’s dipped its toes into the SUV pond though, with the slow-selling, medium sized Stelvio being the brand’s first effort.

Can the Tonale bring in the fresh blood that Alfa Romeo so desperate need? Let’s find out.

How much is the Alfa Romeo Tonale?

Alfa’s local arm has kept things simple, with the Tonale offered in just three variants; a pair of mild hybrids with a 0.8kWh battery pack tested here, along with a plug-in hybrid with a much larger 15.5kWh battery.

The range kicks off with the Alfa Romeo Tonale Ti which starts from $50,900 before moving up to the Tonale Veloce priced from $58,900. The line-up is topped by the Tonale Veloce plug-in hybrid priced from $78,500. All stickers are before on-road costs.

There are only a couple of option packs available:

  • Lusso Pack – $5,500
    • Heated front seats
    • Heated steering wheel
    • Heated washer nozzle
    • PTC heater
    • Perforated leather seat trim
    • 8-way electric driver and passenger seats with memory
    • Ventilated front seats
    • 14-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system
  • Technology Pack – $3,500
    • Side parking sensors
    • 360 degree camera with dynamic lines
    • Intelligent adaptive cruise control
    • Lane keep assist
    • Traffic jam assist
    • Active blind spot assist with rear cross traffic alert
    • Auto-dimming wing mirrors
    • Magic park

The price difference between the Ti and sportier (according to Alfa Romeo) Veloce is somewhat reduced as the Technology Pack is effectively standard on the latter. Still, you can still spend big on options like premium or special paint, sunroof, the Lusso Pack, and 20-inch grey finished alloy wheels.

The Tonale can be ordered in six colours – Alfa White, Alfa Red, Alfa Black, Vesuvio Grey Metallic, Misano Blue Metallic and Montreal Green. All are a $1,990 option except for Alfa White which is standard.

What do you get in the Alfa Romeo Tonale?

Standard equipment highlight includes:

  • 18-inch Diamond cut alloy wheels
  • Automatic full LED Matrix Headlights with adaptive driving beam and dynamic turn indicator
  • Carbon cloth and leatherette seats
  • Aluminium pedals
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • 25-inch touchscreen infotainment and Tom Tom navigation system
  • 3-inch TFT instrument cluster
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Alfa Connect Services
  • Wireless charging pad

Veloce adds:

  • 19-inch diamond cut alloy wheels
  • Dark Miron body kit with matte inserts
  • Red Brembo brake calipers
  • Perforated black leather and Alcantara seats
  • Red accent stitching on doors and centre console trims
  • Privacy glass
  • Active dual stage valve suspension
  • Technology Pack

Veloce plug-in hybrid adds:

  • Sunroof
  • Chrome finished dual exhaust tips
  • Elettro-Biscione logo on rear left window
  • Type 2 smart charging port
  • Mode 2 charging cable
  • Lusso Pack

On the inside

It’s easy to get comfortable in the Tonale, with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment. The seat padding is firm and supportive with good lumbar support and you are embraced with a generous amount of side bolstering.

The driving position is, as expected, higher than a regular hatchback but the tall dashboard gives you the illusion you are sitting lower.

It’s a shame the interior is best admired from afar. While the dashboard looks smart from a distance, get closer and it’s evident that material quality can’t match the Tonale’s premium rivals like the Audi Q3 or Lexus UX. The buttons especially lack the quality feel expected from a premium brand.

The Honda ZR-V I drove the week before felt much more premium from the driver’s seat with excellent soft-touch plastics, sturdy dials, and buttons that click with Audi-like precision. Nevertheless, it’s overall easy-to-use with physical controls for the air-con.

There is some minor built- quality issue, too. The sun visor arm in our tester came off when I tried to swing it to the side.

The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system is responsive and comes with a pleasingly simple menu structure along with a bunch of short cut buttons. However, they are relatively tiny and live down on the left side of the screen, requiring the driver to lean over and aim carefully to execute.

Behind the three-spoke steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with agreeably sharp graphics although with fewer layout options and configurability than the best in class, such as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.

How much space does the Alfa Romeo Tonale have?

Front occupants would have no complaints with good head and legroom, while rear headroom could be tight for lofty passengers especially if the panoramic roof is optioned.

Legroom at the back is also not as generous as the Volvo XC40 although there is some space under the front seats to tuck your feet in.

Boot space is above average for the Tonale hybrid with 500L on offer. Its height-adjustable boot floor also enhances flexibility, while there’s a useful ski hatch through the fold-down rear centre armrest for longer items.

The boot floor is also almost at level with the load lip at its highest position to ease loading while affording extra storage underneath.

The plug-in hybrid gives up a big chunk of its boot capacity (385L) to the batteries that live below it. It also looses the useful height-adjustable boot floor although there’s at least a space underneath for storing the charging cables

What’s underneath the bonnet?

The Tonale mild-hybrid gets a 1.5-litre variable-geometry turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 118kW at 5,750rpm and 240Nm at 1,500rpm. Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

In a departure from some other mild hybrids, the Tonale’s system can drive the front wheels up to 40km/h, as long as there’s enough charge in the batteries.

Fuel use is a claimed 5.6L/100km although on test, it’s a disappointing 8.6L/100km of 80 per cent city driving.

Our time in the Tonale did not include the plug-in hybrid but Alfa claims it will return a combined fuel consumption of just 1.5L/100km.

How does the Alfa Romeo Tonale mild-hybrid drive?

The hybrid drivetrain isn’t the smoothest when transitioning from electric to engine. You are always aware during the handover from electric propulsion to the engine, unlike the silky-smooth Japanese hybrids such as the Lexus UX200h and Honda ZR-V.

That isn’t helped by the seven-speed dual-clutch auto which feels laggy and snatchy at low speeds. Thankfully, it does get better with the DNA dial pointed at Dynamic where the drivetrain shrugs off its lethargy and becomes more alert and responsive.

Alfa Romeo has also tried to imbue some dynamism into the Tonale but hasn’t quite succeeded, either. Its steering is quick but not very precise. As a result, you find yourself constantly making small adjustments to stay within the lines.

Its turning circle is also massive for a small car, making U-turn a challenge on narrow city streets.

There’s some body roll around corners while the engine isn’t overly inspiring, all of which doesn’t exactly encourage enthusiastic driving.

On the bright side, ride comfort is commendable around town even on the Veloce’s 19-inch boots. The Ti with its smaller 18-inch wheels and chunkier rubbers is quite impressive at soaking up low-speed shocks from potholes, while the cabin is relatively well insulated from wind and road noise.

One of the Tonale’s other strong point is its brakes which is firm and progressive.

How safe is the Alfa Romeo Tonale?

The Tonale carries a five-star ANCAP rating and comes with a comprehensive list of safety features.

Safety equipment highlight:

  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Rear seat reminder alert
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Forward collision warning
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
  • Front and rear parking sensors

Veloce adds:

  • Side parking sensors
  • 360 degree camera with dynamic lines
  • Intelligent adaptive cruise control
  • Traffic jam assist
  • Active blind spot assist
  • Rear cross traffic alert

Its worth noting however that during our time with the Tonale, the AEB got ‘blinded’ on a few occasion in the evening when driving into direct sun.

Ownership

Like Alfa Romeo’s wider range, the Tonale is cover by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

It also benefits from capped-price servicing, costing $1,735 for the first three years, or $3,675 for five years.

Verdict

Design & Comfort

8.5/10

Performance & Handling

7.0/10

Quality

7.5/10

Economy

7.5/10

Equipment & Features

8.0/10

OUR SCORE

3.9/5

Our Score: 3.9/5

+ Plus

  • Spacious cabin and generous boot space
  • Handsome design
  • Ride quality and cabin refinement

Minus

  • Fit and finish below par
  • Hybrid drivetrain isn’t the smoothest

Overall

First up, will die-hard Alfa fans enjoy driving the new Alfa Romeo Tonale? Not quite. Its quick steering, good ride quality and cabin refinement are all good things to have but its less than sporty engine note and lack of steering feel doesn’t quite live up to the sportiness traditionally associated with Alfa’s.

But if its main job is to attract buyers new to the brand who aren’t fussed or familiar with its heritage, then the Tonale could be on the mark.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Pricing and Specification

Price (excl. on-roads)Tonale Ti from: $50,900/As tested: $52,890

Tested option: Alfa Red Solid Paint – $1,990

Tonale Veloce: $58,900/As tested: $60,890

Tested option: Misano Blue Metallic – $1,990

Warranty5 years / unlimited km
Warranty Customer Assistance5 year roadside
Country of OriginItaly
Service Intervals12 months/15,000km
Engine1.5-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged direct-injection petrol hybrid:

Combined output: 118kW @ 5,750rpm , 240Nm @ 1,500rpm

TransmissionSeven-speed dual-clutch
DrivetrainFront-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (kW/t)79.1
0-100km/h (seconds):8.8
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km)Claimed: 5.6/Tested: 8.6

 

RON Rating95
Fuel Capacity (L)55
Body5-door SUV, 5-seats
Safety
  • 5-star ANCAP
  • 6 airbags
  • AEB with
    • Vulnerable Road Users
  • Blind-spot assist (Veloce only)
  • Rear cross traffic alert (Veloce only)
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist (Veloce only)
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Automatic high-beam
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Traffic Jam Assist (Veloce only)
  • ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Start Assist (HSA)
  • Side parking sensors (Veloce only)
  • Surround view reverse camera (Veloce only)
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm4,528/1,835/1,601/2,636
Tare Mass (kg)1,491
Boot Space (min/max)(L)500/1,550
Turning circle between kerbs11.57
Ground Clearance:140
Towing Capacity (kg):Braked: 1500/ Unbraked: 700
Entertainment10.25-inch touchstreen infotainment system, with Tom Tom Navigation, Bluetooth, USB-A/C, AM/FM/DAB+, 6-speaker stereo, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

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