We become familiar 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 effectively proportioned, it options some scrumptious Alfa Romeo design cures, such because the slim ‘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 may see, it seems to be particularly good in Montreal Inexperienced, although sadly this can be 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Inside, the dashboard design is a profitable mixture of the outdated and the brand new.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 reminiscent of 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 opponents are all within the premium sector, which is strictly the place Alfa Romeo is pitching the Tonale – so no strain there then.
And admittedly, the Tonale comes shut. It’s effectively put collectively and inside high quality is, for probably the most half, good, however it’s let down in a number of areas – as an illustration, the usage of more durable plastics on the doorways.
General, the cabin has a sporty really feel, however it’s additionally pretty sensible with loads of area 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 automobiles, there’s area to position your toes below 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 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 velocity is 128mph, and (I’m advised) it’ll 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 lower alloy wheels, a gloss-black physique equipment, with satin facet 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 nice. 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 doubtless 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 gas consumption, with the mixed work of the interior combustion engine and electrical motor, whereas ‘Advance Effectivity’ mode is electric-only driving mode, so supreme 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 provide a lot in the way in which of suggestions. It’s not a deal breaker, however it takes a little bit of getting used to.
Pure mode is totally positive for on a regular basis driving. The trip is supple, it feels completely composed on the motorway and surprisingly little highway and wind noise spoils the calm of the cabin.
If you would like a bit of enjoyable, then slip it into Dynamic. The entire automobile sharpens up, and it’s in its ingredient on quicker, flowing roads.
The one draw back is that the little petrol engine turns into raspy at larger 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 are usually not good both. They’re monumental and protrude past the column stalks, which implies they’re invariably in the way in which whenever you need 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 whenever you’re coasting, as an illustration), charging on the transfer and saving battery cost.
General, Alfa’s engineers have executed an incredible job of disguising the Tonale’s weight (1,910kg), and it stays impressively flat in more difficult 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’ll affect gas financial system. In idea it’s able to 217.3mpg, however as with all plug-in hybrids, figures like which are solely attainable on shorter journeys with a charged battery.
On longer journeys, count on gas financial system between 40-50mpg, as a result of in impact you might be driving round in a comparatively small engined automobile 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, 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 life like.
The Tonale earned a powerful five-star ranking in Euro NCAP security checks. Customary gear contains adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
And when you’ve got trigger to brake all of the sudden, there’s no lacking the distinctive collision warning – a weird multi-track hooting sound.
So, finally 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 gorgeous firm automobile possibility.
Lastly, it’s additionally value contemplating different extra inexpensive PHEVs within the massively essential family-sized SUV sector, such because the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. Plus, the Tonale can be out there as a barely cheaper delicate hybrid.
Verdict: In case you’re out there for a sporty household SUV however not fairly able to go absolutely electrical, then the Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid ought to be in your shortlist. Not solely does it ooze kerb enchantment, however it’s sensible and drives effectively.