Meet the new model tasked with reviving Alfa Romeo’s fortunes, and thrusting it into the electrified era: the all-hybrid Tonale small SUV, due in Australia this time next year.
- 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale due in Australia first half of next year
- Plug-in hybrid and 2.0-litre turbo-petrol available overseas, but mild-hybrid only for Australia
- Twin interior screens offer wireless phone connectivity, over-the-air updates
- Styling inspired by 2019’s Tonale Concept
The 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale small SUV has been revealed in Europe, ahead of its Australian launch in the first half of next year.
The Italian brand’s first new model in six years, the Tonale (pronounced toh-nah-lay, not toenail) is Alfa Romeo’s rival for the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and other premium small SUVs – and will be the vehicle tasked with reversing the car maker’s steady sales decline.
While overseas buyers will be offered 202kW plug-in hybrid and 188kW turbo-petrol engine options, the Australian range will be restricted at launch to a sole 1.5-litre mild-hybrid variant, offering 117kW and front-wheel drive – though the more powerful options haven’t been ruled out for local launches at a later date.
Offering five doors, the production Tonale’s styling is closely linked to the Tonale Concept revealed in early 2019 – but has been refined for showrooms, with changes led by more traditional rear door handles replacing the concept’s ‘hidden’ units.
Up front, placed on either side of the central ‘Scudetto’ grille are enlarged versions of the concept’s triple U-shaped lighting signature – said to be inspired by iconic Alfas of old, including the 1990s SZ and 2000s Brera – equipped with matrix LED technology, a first for the brand.
Alloy wheels between 17 and 20 inches in diameter fill the arches – available in the company’s signature ‘telephone dial’ style – while at the rear the U-shaped lighting signatures continue, above ‘Tonale’ badging and a power tailgate release.
2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale interior and technology
Inside, the Tonale draws closer to the cabins of its German brand rivals than the current Giulia and Stelvio, with a tablet-style 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen mounted atop the dashboard, and an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver (with three layouts).
The touchscreen runs new software based on Google’s Android Automotive system, with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, over-the-air updates, the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, and support for a smartphone app allowing the car to be locked or unlocked, its location to be tracked, and more.
Leatherette and Alcantara trims the seats of flagship variants – with Alfa Romeo logos embroidered into the headrests in black or red – while drivers grip a three-spoke leather steering wheel, and engage with column-mounted aluminium shift paddles.
Available features include wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, ambient cabin lighting, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, dual-zone climate control and a power tailgate.
The Tonale debuts a new Alfa Connect Services system (with the aforementioned phone app), plus a function that automatically calls emergency services after a crash, and a COVID-friendly Secure Delivery Service function allowing couriers to unlock the car and drop a parcel in its boot.
Following (for right or wrong) the latest trends, the Tonale is the first new car with its own non-fungible token (NFT), a one-of-one digital ‘certificate’ authenticated as a unique item by a network of online servers (known as the blockchain), which have grown in popularity elsewhere in the car world.
According to Alfa Romeo, “upon customer’s consent, the NFT will record vehicle data, generating a certificate that can be used as a guarantee of the car overall status, with a positive impact on its residual value.
“On the pre-owned car market, NFT certification represents an additional source of credibility for owners or dealers to count on.”
A full suite of active safety technologies will be available, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane centring assist, traffic jam assist, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver fatigue detection, a 360-degree camera, and semi-automatic parking.
Underpinning the Tonale is a version of the FCA Small Wide platform used beneath the Jeep Compass and Renegade – but Alfa Romeo says significant revisions have been made to suit its new SUV, with only the central floor pan (and therefore wheelbase) carrying over from the Compass.
The Tonale measures in at 4.53m long, 1.84m wide and 1.6m high – approximately 10cm longer, 2cm wider and 4cm lower than its Jeep Compass sibling. It’s believed the Tonale shares the Compass’ 2636mm (2.636m) wheelbase.
2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale engine and transmission
When the Tonale launches in Australia next year, buyers will be offered a sole choice of powertrain: a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.
In Europe, the system – badged as the Tonale Hybrid – can be had in 96kW/240Nm or 117kW flavours (aided by a unique variable-geometry turbocharger), with the mild-hybrid system adding a 15kW/55Nm boost when required under low load.
Unlike most mild-hybrid vehicles, the Tonale Hybrid can drive on electric power alone – albeit at low speeds for very short distances, when in car parks, creeping in stop-start traffic, or slowly pulling away from the traffic lights. The electric motor can also add a boost under heavy acceleration.
Alfa Romeo says more than 50 per cent of the laboratory test procedure used for Europe’s WLTP measuring cycle is conducted in electric mode – with regenerative braking used to recapture energy.
The Tonale Plug-in Hybrid will sit atop the range in overseas markets, pairing a 132kW 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder driving the front wheels with a 90kW electric motor powering the rear wheels for a combined output of 202kW – matching a pre-facelift Hyundai i30 N hot hatch.
Switch off the petrol engine and Alfa Romeo claims 60km of electric range during combined driving, or 80km in urban conditions, thanks to a Tonale-exclusive 15.5kWh battery. Connecting to a 7.4kW AC socket enables a 100 per cent recharge in 2.5 hours (but there’s no DC fast charging on offer).
Many of the Tonale PHEV’s core components are shared with the Jeep Compass 4xe – but to differentiate the luxury Alfa, the battery has been enlarged (15.5kWh vs 11.6kWh), a more potent electric motor (90kW vs 45kW), longer range (60km vs 48km), and higher combined power output (202kW vs 177kW).
A 0-100km/h acceleration time of 6.2 seconds is quoted for the plug-in Tonale. The petrol engine uses a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission to send power to the front wheels.
However, the plug-in hybrid won’t be available in Australia at launch, with Alfa Romeo global product manager Daniel Guzzafame telling media: “On Australia, it is not a closed book … we will see with the team in Australia whether that is something that makes sense, and the vehicle capability is of course there – and actually that’s one of the goals that we have [globally], to [offer] plug-in hybrid … in Australia as well.”
On offer in the North American and Middle Eastern markets will be a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, sending 188kW to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
However, this powertrain is yet to be developed for right-hand drive, with Alfa Romeo global product manager Daniel Guzzafame telling Drive: “For now we have the left-hand drive developed. The right-hand drive is an option we are investigating.”
A 1.6-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine will also be available in European markets, with 96kW/320Nm, a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and front-wheel drive. This is also off-limits for Europe – likely due to low demand for diesel locally, rather than a lack of right-hand drive.
2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale chassis and weight
Under the skin, all models will be equipped with new frequency-selective dampers, with range-topping Veloce variants adding adaptive suspension with Comfort and Sport modes customisable via the ‘DNA’ drive mode selector (Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency, plus ESC Off).
Compared to its small luxury SUV rivals, Alfa Romeo says the Tonale offers 20 per cent less body roll, and features front suspension that offers 32 per cent better suppression of repetitive, inner-city bumps (branded by engineers as ‘front body filtering’).
Alfa Romeo claims a 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles – a rarity among front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicles – plus the most direct steering ratio in the small SUV segment (13.6:1), four-piston Brembo front brake calipers, and an electronic locking differential in FWD models.
Final weight figures are yet to be announced, however Alfa Romeo engineers told Australian media the mild-hybrid would tip the scales in at approximately 1500kg, while the plug-in hybrid will fall between 1800kg and 1900kg – making it one of the heaviest models the company has ever built.
When will the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale come to Australia?
The 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale will go on sale in Europe later this year, after production commences in June at the Pomigliano d’Arco factory in Naples, Italy.
The first Australian deliveries won’t commence until the first half of 2023, with local pricing and specifications to be announced closer to launch.
It remains to be seen whether Australia follows Europe in offering a simplified model range, comprised of Super and Ti variants, available with Sprint or Veloce option packages respectively.
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