2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale “La Metamorfosi” - Review by Larry Nutson
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Alfa Romeo’s new Tonale model made its world premier “digitally” back in February 2022. I had my first in-person look at the Tonale in a live presentation made to members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) in September 2022.
And now, just recently, I again got to see as well as drive the Tonale in and around Chicago where I make my home. Seeing a vehicle on the streets, in its natural environment, is truth-telling. You have the opportunity to step back, study the design, and experience how the vehicle relates to its purpose.
In that September briefing, Larry Dominique, senior vice president and head of Alfa Romeo North America reminded us of Alfa Romeo’s 113 year heritage. Alfa sold cars in the U.S. for 37 years and then disappeared from this market for 22 years. Alfa returned in 2008 and today they have three models: the new Tonale, the Stelvio utility vehicle and the Giulia sedan. Over the next seven years Alfa said it will introduce additional models as it enters a new era of luxury, electrification and connectivity while remaining true to the race-inspired DNA that Alfa Romeo is known for.
The Tonale is a premium compact CUV with seating for five and with standard all-wheel drive. It has a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain.
“The Alfa Romeo Tonale offers more than 30 miles of electric range, best-in-class 285 horsepower and a list of technology features,” said Larry Dominique, senior vice president and head of Alfa Romeo North America. "Entering the competitive premium compact sport-utility segment with such a compelling product and our brand’s first electrified offering shows a clear direction for Alfa Romeo’s future."
Tonale is available in Sprint, Ti and Veloce trim levels each powered by a 285-horsepower plug-in hybrid Q4 AWD with 305 lb.-ft. of torque. The hybrid system uses a 180-hp 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to provide torque to the front wheels. A high-voltage Belt Starter Generator (BSG), mounted to the engine, delivers torque to the crankshaft to smooth transitions during changing driving conditions, in addition to providing stop-start capability.
The rear axle of the Tonale is powered by a 90-kW electric motor capable of producing 184 lb.-ft. of torque from 0 rpm. With a fully charged battery, the system automatically activates the electric motor to drive the rear wheels. If more performance is requested by the driver via the throttle pedal, the 1.3-liter engine activates to deliver power to the front wheels. The entire plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) system delivers up to 285 peak horsepower for a high-performance fun and stability.
A 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery with 100 kw capability, nickel manganese cobalt graphite chemistry and prismatic construction, is mounted low, along the center of the Tonale. A full battery charge can be achieved in about 2.5 hours when using a Level 2 240-volt charger.
A six-speed automatic transmission transmits the power. Zero to 60 mph is in less than 6 seconds. Top speed is 125 mph. All-electric driving range, for lower speed in-city driving, is 33 miles. Total driving range is 360 miles. EPA gasoline-only fuel-economy rating is 29 combined mpg. EPA gives the Tonale a 77MPGe combined gasoline/electric rating.
With a D.N.A. selector switch you can choose Dynamic, Natural, or Advance Efficiency modes that changes the steering, braking and suspension tuning for unique driving dynamics. The new Alfa Romeo Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for Level 2 autonomous driving with Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) provides automatic handling of acceleration and braking and remaining within the center of the lane.
A center-console switch controls saving battery charge for city driving and then the Tonal operates as a regular hybrid.
Like all Alfas the focus is on driving. Front seats provide good comfort and support for both the driver and passenger. Premium materials such as leather, Alcantara suede, and aluminum are welcoming as well as warm and stylish.
With a 12.3-inch fully digital screen and 10.25-inch touchscreen, the Fifth-generation Uconnect system deliver an intuitive user experience (UX) with Android’s automotive operating system. Wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, wireless charging and a dual phone application make connecting and sharing easy.
My Tonale drive experience was in a Veloce trim finished in Misano Blue Metallic. I spent a good deal of time driving around the streets of Chicago. Together with my wife we road-tripped from Chicago to southeast Michigan. Around town I did lots of pure-electric driving. I engaged the battery-save feature on highway drives, which actually also functions to recharge the battery.
Our road trip along a somewhat-fast interstate in mild weather had the Tonale averaging 29 mpg, round trip, and matching the EPA combined rating. Very typical of most all SUVs, due to their large open interior, highway road and wind noise is a bit more noticeable than in a sedan type vehicle…but not to an uncomfortable level as can occur in some small entry level vehicles.
Alfa Romeo Tonale is now available at dealerships. Pricing for the Veloce is $47,495, Ti is $44,995 and Sprint is $42,995. Prices do not include a $1,595 destination charge. Also take note, customers choosing to lease the Alfa Romeo Tonale can take advantage of a $7,500 federal EV tax credit. More details can be found at www.alfaromeousa.com.
According to the most recent J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), Alfa Romeo finished first among premium brands and third in the industry, soaring 24 places – the greatest jump in the study.
Overall, the new Tonale from Alfa is a very compelling premium compact utility. The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain is a good choice for someone who wants to reduce their personal carbon footprint by moving away from a traditional pure ICE-powered car but is not afforded by their living arrangements to drive a battery electric vehicle that requires at-home battery charging for the best user experience.
The future is electric. Happy motoring!
© 2023 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy