We familiarize yourself with Alfa Romeo’s first plug-in hybrid – the Tonale SUV…
Slotting in beneath 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 defend grille and offset quantity plate on the entrance, whereas its pert rear is endowed with a full-width gentle bar.
And as you’ll be able to see, it seems to be particularly good in Montreal Inexperienced, although sadly this can be a £1,500 choice.
Inside, the dashboard design is a profitable mixture of the previous and the brand new.
A retro-hooded 12.3-inch digital driver’s instrument cluster is customary, 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 reminiscent of local weather management.
Priced from £45,995, the Tonale’s PHEV household crossover’s rivals embrace the BMW X1, Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, Vary Rover Evoque and Lexus NX.
It’s price noting that these rivals are all within the premium sector, which is strictly the place Alfa Romeo is pitching the Tonale – so no stress there then.
And albeit, the Tonale comes shut. It’s properly put collectively and inside high quality is, for essentially the most half, good, however it’s let down in a number of areas – as an example, the usage of more durable plastics on the doorways.
Total, the cabin has a sporty really feel, however it’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 mentioned, in contrast to some vehicles, there’s house to put your ft beneath the entrance seats.
Boot capability is a modest 385 litres, increasing to 1,430 litres when the 60:40 cut up seats are folded, placing it on a par with a mean 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 velocity is 128mph, and (I’m instructed) it should fortunately keep in EV mode up till 84mph.
I examined the Tonale This autumn 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 equipment, 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 equipment, 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. Below 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 sweet. The footwell is a tad cosy although, and I couldn’t discover a comfy 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 excellent 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 street is that the steering could be very gentle and doesn’t provide a lot in the best way of suggestions. It’s not a deal breaker, however it takes a little bit of getting used to.
Pure mode is totally high quality for on a regular basis driving. The experience is supple, it feels completely composed on the motorway and surprisingly little street and wind noise spoils the calm of the cabin.
If you would like a bit of enjoyable, then slip it into Dynamic. The entire automotive sharpens up, and it’s in its component on sooner, flowing roads.
The one draw back is that the little petrol engine turns into raspy at increased revs and the six-speed computerized gearbox is typically a bit of hesitant with its shifts.
This may be remedied through the use of the aluminium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, however these should not good both. They’re huge and protrude past the column stalks, which suggests they’re invariably in the best way while you wish to point out or function the wipers.
There are numerous settings for regenerative braking (it’s at all times satisfying to watching the EV gentle pop up while you’re coasting, as an example), charging on the transfer and saving battery cost.
Total, Alfa’s engineers have executed an awesome job of disguising the Tonale’s weight (1,910kg), and it stays impressively flat in tougher corners.
That is partly right down to the very good 53:47 entrance/rear weight distribution, which is complemented by wonderful grip ranges.
So, you’ll be able to have some enjoyable within the Tonale PHEV, however it should influence gasoline economic system. In principle it’s able to 217.3mpg, however as with all plug-in hybrids, figures like which can be solely doable on shorter journeys with a charged battery.
On longer journeys, count on gasoline economic system between 40-50mpg, as a result of in impact you’re driving round in a comparatively small engined automotive with a depleted battery.
Speaking of which, the Tonale’s charging velocity maxes out at 7.4kW so it’ll take 2.5 hours to recharge the battery, dwelling 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 sensible.
The Tonale earned a formidable five-star score in Euro NCAP security exams. Commonplace gear consists of adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
And when you’ve got trigger to brake immediately, there’s no lacking the distinctive collision warning – a weird multi-track hooting sound.
So, finally the Tonale is a formidable 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 horny firm automotive choice.
Lastly, it’s additionally price contemplating different extra reasonably priced PHEVs within the vastly 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: In case 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 enchantment, however it’s sensible and drives properly.