We become familiar with Alfa Romeo’s first plug-in hybrid – the Tonale SUV…
Slotting in under the Stelvio within the Alfa vary, the Tonale is arguably one of many best-looking mid-sized crossovers available on the market.
It’s athletic and properly proportioned, it options some scrumptious Alfa Romeo design cures, such because the slender ‘triple’ headlights, trademark protect grille and offset quantity plate on the entrance, whereas its pert rear is endowed with a full-width gentle bar.
And as you may see, it seems particularly good in Montreal Inexperienced, although sadly it is a £1,500 possibility.
Inside, the dashboard design is a profitable mixture of the outdated and the brand new.
A retro-hooded 12.3-inch digital driver’s instrument cluster is commonplace, with graphics designed to duplicate Alfa’s conventional analogue dials. That is complemented by a ten.25-inch infotainment touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, together with Amazon Alexa – which is built-in with a voice assistant.
Refreshingly, it’s not completely minimalist both, so there’s a sprinkling of dials and switches for necessities akin to local weather management.
Priced from £45,995, the Tonale’s PHEV household crossover’s rivals embody the BMW X1, Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, Vary Rover Evoque and Lexus NX.
It’s value noting that these rivals are all within the premium sector, which is precisely the place Alfa Romeo is pitching the Tonale – so no stress there then.
And admittedly, the Tonale comes shut. It’s properly put collectively and inside high quality is, for probably the most half, good, but it surely’s let down in just a few areas – as an example, using tougher plastics on the doorways.
General, the cabin has a sporty really feel, but it surely’s additionally pretty sensible with loads of house for 2 adults to sit down comfortably within the again. A 3rd can perch within the center, however they must straddle the transmission tunnel. That stated, in contrast to some vehicles, there may be house to put your toes beneath the entrance seats.
Boot capability is a modest 385 litres, increasing to 1,430 litres when the 60:40 break up seats are folded, placing it on a par with a median household hatchback.
The Tonale’s plug-in hybrid system is an upgraded model of the powertrain used within the Jeep Compass 4Xe (its Stellantis group cousin). In different phrases, there’s a 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine mated to fifteen.5kWh battery.
Alfa Romeo claims this provides an EV vary of as much as 43 miles and CO2 emissions as little as 29g/km.
It’s four-wheel drive too, with the electrical motor’s 121bhp going to the rear axle, whereas the petrol engine sends its 178bhp to the entrance.
A complete of 276bhp is generated, leading to a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. High pace is 128mph, and (I’m advised) it is going to fortunately keep in EV mode up till 84mph.
I examined the Tonale This fall in Veloce spec (£48,495), however there’s additionally an entry-level Ti.
The Ti model is externally distinguished by a satin chrome V entrance bezel, 18-inch darkish end diamond reduce alloy wheels, a gloss-black physique package, with satin aspect and entrance inserts, privateness glass and black painted mirror caps. Inside, there’s black material upholstery, a driver’s seat with four-way lumbar adjustment and a leather-based steering wheel.
The Veloce has a darker V entrance bezel, Veloce badging and physique package, a gloss black window encompass, 19-inch darkish alloy wheels and pink painted Brembo brake callipers. Inside, the Veloce options aluminium door sills, aluminium shift paddles, plus black and pink Alcantara upholstery. Underneath the pores and skin, it additionally will get Alfa Twin Stage Valve suspension (DSV).
Slip inside and the driving place is fashionably excessive and all-round visibility is nice. The footwell is a tad cosy although, and I couldn’t discover a snug place for my left foot on longer journeys.
Press the beginning button on the steering wheel and also you’ll extra seemingly than not set off in silent EV mode.
A twist of Alfa Romeo’s ‘DNA’ drive mode selector dial lets you tweak the engine, steering, suspension and transmission responses.
‘Dynamic’ mode makes use of each the electrical motor and the interior combustion engine to ship a sportier driving efficiency. ‘Pure’ optimises energy and minimises gasoline consumption, with the mixed work of the interior combustion engine and electrical motor, whereas ‘Advance Effectivity’ mode is electric-only driving mode, so splendid for low emissions zones.
You’ll spend most of your time in default Pure mode with the engine comfortably switching between electrical and petrol energy.
The very first thing you discover on the highway is that the steering may be very gentle and doesn’t supply a lot in the best way of suggestions. It’s not a deal breaker, but it surely takes a little bit of getting used to.
Pure mode is completely nice for on a regular basis driving. The experience is supple, it feels completely composed on the motorway and surprisingly little highway and wind noise spoils the calm of the cabin.
If you need somewhat enjoyable, then slip it into Dynamic. The entire automotive sharpens up, and it’s in its ingredient on sooner, flowing roads.
The one draw back is that the little petrol engine turns into raspy at greater revs and the six-speed automated gearbox is typically somewhat hesitant with its shifts.
This may be remedied through the use of the aluminium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, however these will not be excellent both. They’re monumental and protrude past the column stalks, which suggests they’re invariably in the best way whenever you wish to point out or function the wipers.
There are numerous settings for regenerative braking (it’s all the time satisfying to watching the EV gentle pop up whenever you’re coasting, as an example), charging on the transfer and saving battery cost.
General, Alfa’s engineers have accomplished an ideal job of disguising the Tonale’s weight (1,910kg), and it stays impressively flat in tougher corners.
That is partly all the way down to the very good 53:47 entrance/rear weight distribution, which is complemented by glorious grip ranges.
So, you may have some enjoyable within the Tonale PHEV, however it is going to affect gasoline financial system. In idea it’s able to 217.3mpg, however as with all plug-in hybrids, figures like which can be solely potential on shorter journeys with a charged battery.
On longer journeys, anticipate gasoline financial system between 40-50mpg, as a result of in impact you might be driving round in a comparatively small engined automotive with a depleted battery.
Speaking of which, the Tonale’s charging pace maxes out at 7.4kW so it’ll take 2.5 hours to recharge the battery, residence or away. With a full cost, Alfa Romeo claims the PHEV can journey 43 miles on electrical energy alone, however we discovered that 35 miles is extra real looking.
The Tonale earned a powerful five-star score in Euro NCAP security assessments. Customary gear contains adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
And when you have trigger to brake instantly, there’s no lacking the distinctive collision warning – a weird multi-track hooting sound.
So, in the end the Tonale is a powerful begin for Alfa Romeo on its electrification journey, and the plug-in hybrid’s all-electric vary and low CO2 emissions ought to make it a sexy firm automotive possibility.
Lastly, it’s additionally value contemplating different extra reasonably priced PHEVs within the massively necessary family-sized SUV sector, such because the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. Plus, the Tonale can also be obtainable as a barely cheaper delicate hybrid.
Verdict: When you’re available in the market for a sporty household SUV however not fairly able to go totally electrical, then the Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid must be in your shortlist. Not solely does it ooze kerb attraction, but it surely’s sensible and drives properly.