The Tonale is the most important Alfa Romeo in some time. It arrived in 2022 with a mild-hybrid powertrain, though the star in the line-up was always going to be the plug-in model.
Now available in the UK, it’s the Alfa that can be plugged in and aims to challenge the popular hybrid versions of other rival SUVs, such as the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.
The Tonale certainly has Alfa Romeo’s stunning trademark styling on its side, but will this plug-in hybrid version be a positive sign of what’s to come as this Italian firm looks to only sell EVs by 2027? Let’s get behind the wheel and find out.
While the mild-hybrid Tonale uses a 1.5-litre unit, here in this PHEV, it’s a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine that’s used. It’s a broadly similar setup to that found in Jeep’s Renegade and Compass 4xe models and comes with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive as standard.
Thanks to a tuned petrol engine, it puts out more power than the Jeep models, and plenty more than the 158bhp in the mild-hybrid – 276bhp combined. That allows for a 0-60mph time of six seconds and a top speed of 128mph.
Once its 15.5kWh battery is fully charged, Alfa Romeo also claims 40 miles on a charge, giving scope for very low running costs if you plug it in all the time – the firm claims up to 217.3mpg and 29g/km CO2 emissions.
Ride and handling
Things get off to a good start with the Tonale, as there’s plenty of seat adjustment to find your ideal driving position, while the near-silent electric running means it’s smooth and responsive around town.
When you take the speed up, the swap over of electric to petrol is relatively smooth, though if you put your foot down the engine sound isn’t the most pleasant, while the gearbox isn’t the quickest. It does, however, handle impressively well for a hybrid SUV, with far greater levels of involvement than rivals. You will need to put the car into ‘Dynamic’ to get the most from it, as the steering feels very light in other settings.
The Tonale is Alfa Romeo’s advanced model to date, with an interior that is certainly more modern to look at than previous cars from the firm. There’s an easy-to-use 10.25-inch touchscreen, as well as a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster – the latter of which has just been introduced to the firm’s Giulia and Stelvio too. While it might not feel as plush inside as rivals from Range Rover and Audi, the quality is generally good, though the area around the gear selector feels a bit cheap.
One area where the Tonale is hard to fault, though, is its interior space. In fact, it feels almost as roomy as the larger Stelvio SUV, with plenty of rear seat room and a decent-sized boot. The PHEV’s boot is slightly smaller than the mild-hybrid Tonale, but it’s only the underfloor area that is lost, and this is where there’s room to store the charging cables out of the way too.
The Tonale plug-in hybrid also comes with plenty of equipment as standard, too. There are only two trim levels to choose from – Ti and Veloce.
The entry-level Ti still gets all kinds of features included, though, such as Matrix LED headlights, keyless entry and wireless smartphone charging.
The Veloce will mainly be bought for its looks, with this bringing smarter 19-inch alloy wheels and darkened styling, though it also comes with black leather and Alcantara upholstery, as well as adaptive suspension.
Plug-in hybrids always command a premium, and that’s the case with this Tonale, this model being £6,000 more expensive than a standard mild-hybrid model, though it does come with far more power and all-wheel-drive as standard.
The range kicks off from £45,995 for the Ti, rising to £48,495 for the Veloce. Options can still be added on top of this, however. The fact heated seats need to be bought as an option on a crossover of this price seems a bit penny-pinching, and with that and some nice paint, the Tonale rises beyond £50,000 and begins to get expensive.
This plug-in hybrid is certainly the best Tonale yet, bringing greater refinement and performance than the standard car, along with the possibility of very low running costs.
To our eyes, it’s one of the best-looking crossovers around, while bringing plenty of standard equipment and a roomy interior as well. It’s not perfect, but it’s a positive sign of what we can expect from hybrid and electric Alfa Romeos in the future.