Alfa introduced a new series in 2017 with the Stelvio. The small Tonale now completes the range of Italian SUVs: we will explain what is in the box with the 160 hp top Veloce model.
Since Alfa Romeo 2020 has discontinued the mid-engined 4C sports car and Golf competitor Giulietta, the offer is for two mid-range models Giulia and Stelvio, and the SUV as the latest model is now more than five years old. So it’s the right time for a new series, which Alfa now presents with the compact SUV Tonale.
It is a close relative of the Jeep Compass, which also uses a 130 hp gasoline engine with a displacement of 1.5 liters and a 48-volt motor in a seven-speed DCT housing as the base unit. The equally powerful 1.6-litre diesel, on the other hand, will only be available from Alfa, as Jeep recently dropped it from the programme. The Tonale plug-in version will follow in the fall, which can make its mark with a 275 hp system and a 15.5 kWh battery (Jeep: 245 hp, 11.4 kWh). Our first test takes place with a 160 hp gasoline engine, which is based on the entry-level engine and also uses the Miller cycle, but is equipped with a VTG turbocharger (variable turbine geometry).
With that he should tonal It can reach 210 km / h and accelerate to 100 km / h in 8.8 seconds, which are normal values for a 1.5-ton truck with such a motor. Despite the support of the 15 kW electric motor, the Alfa does not start alive from the start, but there is no shortage in daily use. But it doesn’t matter if you accelerate gently or strongly: the car generally responds very sluggishly. It gets worse when the petrol engine is turned off when driving around town: it jumps back well with the accelerator pedal command, but the four-cylinder raises its volume a little, you count “twenty-one, twenty-two”, and then it pulls. On top of that, there are occasionally two short jerks when the transmission slows down under light loads.
Parking not only reduces driving comfort, it also stands in the way of fun. Because even if there are a good 4,000 trips that go by, it still seems like at least a second and a half goes by in complete silence before things move forward. To put it another way: If you’re accelerating at an apex, acceleration often only comes when the corner is around. In addition, you should take into account the delayed engine delay before bends: when you lift the gas pedal, the car accelerates two or three tenths of a second at the same rate. However, according to Alfa engineers, this behavior is intentional: if the driver decides to continue accelerating.
Clean brake repair
Break-by-wire brake testing, on the other hand, works well, and it doesn’t even take practice to stop properly. And in front of the top Veloce model, behind the 20-inch rims, there are even four permanent calipers from Brembo, which the Alfa reduces in strength.
In terms of transverse dynamics, the Tonale has a very sporty effect with low body roll and quick response to steering commands, also because of the direct steering ratio. The extreme ease of movement does not match this, because even in Sports mode the power support remains very high. In the steering wheel there is absolutely no feeling for the available corner forces, only the road damage is properly communicated with vibrations that are not too strong.
This is how paddle shifters work!
Despite the big wheels, the damped Tonale still feels good, if not soft. On roads that are in dire need of repair, however, there is sometimes a slight rumbling noise. Where the visual quality is basically good and there is also a real attraction with the shift paddles known from other Alfa and Maserati: large aluminum components mounted on the steering column, which are very pleasant with a long stroke and a well-defined clicking sensation that you often use the shift paddles even in town share manual mode, though the automatic selects gears intelligently. This also works well because the shift paddles don’t turn when turning. Also great: ergonomic buttons placed behind the spokes of the leather steering wheel, which is slightly flat at the bottom.
Alpha voice control can be called using the volume control button, or the paired smartphone assistant (Siri, Google Assistant) by long pressing. Alternatively, Amazon’s Alexa is also supported, which is activated via the small picture button on the touch screen or via “Hey Alexa”. Infotainment works at average speeds, supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly and displays easy-to-understand route guidance via the TomTom app. The system is operated exclusively by touch, except for the rotating volume roller and the steering wheel multimedia buttons. This also applies to the steering wheel and seat heating as well as seat ventilation, while for the dual-zone climate there is a row of buttons and all the necessary functions under the monitor.
It starts at 44,500 euros
The rear has air conditioning through the central air vents on the center console, which also houses two USB ports (as in the front: one USB A and one USB C socket each). In the second row there is just enough headroom, but the bedroom and leg room are very decent. 500 liters of luggage to the rear compartment; Unfortunately, the parcel shelf does not fit under the adjustable loading floor. Functionality is demonstrated by the loading point that can be operated from both sides, the 12 volt connection in the trunk and external cameras, which provide sharp images and a 360-degree view on the screen. In addition, Tonale offers modern assistance as an extra for comfort and safety, which includes lane keepers (with a control button on the turn signal lever), active lane guidance, traffic sign recognition and a cruise control system and automatic distance control.
With a price of 44,500 euros for the Veloce, that is also expected. Tonale TI with 160 hp engine costs 2,500 euros less, while the cheapest model (Super, 130 hp) starts at 35,500 euros. Unfortunately, Alfa currently does not plan a sports version of the Quadrifoglio as a competitor to the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, Audi RS Q3 or Cupra Formentor VZ5. The platform does not offer a full power version. So it remains to be seen how the Italians will position the plug-in driver.
The pronounced lack of reaction of a small hybrid car affects not only fun but also comfort. Otherwise, the spacious and well-equipped Tonale is sporty but unimpressive.