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A new championship: the driving report: Alfa Romeo Tonale

S.PX / Milan. Alfa Romeo is something like the automaker’s FC Schalke 04. An eternal love story. A few days have passed since the great successes, but the hope of better days always burns in the hearts of the fans. They might come now. For Schalke and for Alfa. The newcomer to the Tifosi is called Tonale, from the name of a pass in the Dolomites. Even though he’s not a hot-blooded striker, he should finally be securing good transfer fees to Alfa again. Finally, the Tonale plays in the lucrative compact SUV championship.

The tactical orientation is unmistakable: the game plan is under the name of the project “The metamorphosis” – the transformation. Alfa wants to be fully motorized by 2027, with Mito’s successor arriving in 2024, the first purely electric model, Alfa boss Jean-Philippe Imparato promises a new model every year until then.

The Tonale, 4.53 meters long, heralds the electrified future a little. For this he wears a sparkling green jersey on the already quite obsolete technology platform of the Jeep Compass / Renegade (since 2005). Since it is no longer possible to implement full electric drive on this basis, the Alfa is content with three petrol hybrid variants. Two light hybrids and a plug-in. The mild hybrids are equipped with a 1.5 turbo four-cylinder, 48-volt electrical system including a small battery and front-wheel drive in power levels 130 and 160 hp. The 13.5kg battery sits between the front seats and is primarily designed to give the Tonale slightly faster legs and at least park fully electrically during maneuvers. The combustion engine is then completely decoupled. The plug-in hybrid will be launched in the fall and has a system output of 202 kW / 275 hp. The electric range should be around 64 kilometers, the 90 kW / 122 hp electric motor on the rear axle makes the Tonale an all-wheel drive vehicle. For diesel enthusiasts, Alfa will supply a 130hp version starting in June. The price list starts from the 130 HP Tonale Hybrid Super at 35,500 euros, the 160 HP Tonale Hybrid TI version costs 42,500 euros, the plug-in hybrid should start at just under 50,000 euros.

Another component that should bring Alfa back to the fore is the so-called NFT (Non-Fungible Token) technology. This is based on a digital checkbook that is first offered in a production model and, with the owner’s permission, stores all vehicle and workshop data for the life of the car. It is based on the concept of a non-manipulable blockchain, a continuously expandable list of records. Above all, Alfa hopes for higher transfer fees from the new technology, which is a stable resale value.

In general, trust is the new currency with which the traditional brand wants to repay. Learned says: “The Tonale is a shout out to all the Alfa Romeo fans that we have lost”. According to these words, the SUV is the first and only Alfa to receive a five-year warranty. Furthermore, the Italians promise a whole new level of quality. Alfa defines the Tonale as “a milestone”. Indeed. Probably no Alfa before has been assembled with such care. Nothing wobbles, no crackles. What you touch inside, whether it’s surfaces, panels, buttons or controls, seats or trunk covers, everything seems to have been taken from a new crate (Stellantis), of which the Italians had not until now. the key. Motto: The evil spirits of the past shouldn’t even get comfortable here

However, and fortunately, the history of the club always goes hand in hand. Even the names of the four trim levels sound as beautifully as they did yesterday: Super, Sprint, TI and Veloce. At the front and rear we recognize the three-eyed design of an Alfa Zagato RZ or Brera. The rising side mentions the Alfa GT, the large disc wheels of the phone also emerge from our memories, as well as the slightly rounded steering wheel or the tubes indicated above the new digital speedometer, in which we also see the refined hunter graphics of the Duet Spider believe to make out. Alfa mixes all of this with a modern multimedia system that is finally at the forefront in terms of speed and display, even if operation isn’t quite intuitive without practice. For this, Alexa moves and hears the word. This helps.

Learned’s announcement that there is more Alpha than ever in the tonal range is less useful. This may reassure the fan camp, but it’s more wishful thinking than reality. Even though the 160hp version we drove gives a well-trained impression in footwork, tight and sure-footed, the steering still lacks a lot of sporting spirit. Especially around the central position, it is too easy and indifferent, which unfortunately does not change substantially in the sports program. It’s great for the city, but when cornering fast, the steering doesn’t have the target water that Stelvio or Giulia use to turn corners so dynamically.

Even as a new talent of the storm, the conspicuously quiet tonal volume hardly goes unnoticed. This is mainly due to the seven-speed double clutch transmission. It also isn’t quite fresh and responds to kickdown with a pause to catch your breath before the desire for quick acceleration is transmitted to the engine. The fact that the battery also pushes with E-Boost is not very noticeable.

So in the end a spongy image remains. As a new team member in the Stellantis group, the Tonale has greatly improved in terms of quality. However, the typical virtues of the Alfa remain somewhat on the road. Il Cuore Sportivo does not beat to the rhythm of the brand. This makes the tonal one of many. Nice to look at, but unfortunately not unique.

Alfa Romeo Tonale Hybrid (160 CV) – Specifications:

5-door electric SUV with all-wheel drive; Length: 4.53 meters, width: 1.84 meters, height: 1.60 meters, wheelbase: 2.64 meters. Trunk volume: 500 – 1,550 liters.

Front-wheel drive, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 118 kW / 160 hp, maximum torque 240 Nm at 1,500 rpm, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, 15 kW / 20 hp lithium-ion battery, electric a 48 volt system. 0-100 km / h: 8.8 s, Vmax: 210 km / h, combined fuel consumption 6.3 liters (according to WLTP), CO2 emissions 144 g / km

Price: from 42,500 euros

Alfa Romeo Tonale Hybrid – brief characteristics:

Why: because Alfa finally seems to deliver on its quality promise

Why not: because the tonal wants to please many and therefore becomes somewhat arbitrary.

What else: VW Tiguan, Cupra Formentor, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson

When will it arrive: from mid-June

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