Like other automakers, Alfa Romeo is changing its product line in response to worldwide government dictates that the Italian automaker to electrify its portfolio.
As such, Alfa Romeo is introducing the Tonale (pronounced Tone-ah-lee) its first electric vehicle. The premium compact SUV built in Italy that shares its underpinnings with the new Dodge Hornet, which is built on the same assembly line and can be fitted with the Tonale’s PHEV driveline.
We traveled to Milan to sample Alfa Romeo’s first new offering five years, driving from the company’s track in Balocco, Italy and driving up into nearby twisting mountain roads that revealed the Tonale’s true colors.
The new Tonale is offered in Sprint, Ti and Veloce trim, and unlike its Dodge sibling, comes solely as a gas-electric Plug-In Hybrid Electric vehicle. Interestingly, despite the different trim levels, most Tonale models come with the same level of comfort and convenience items with only a few optional items that can be added to the Ti and Veloce, but not the base Sprint.
Its exterior wardrobe shares much with its Dodge sibling, but its execution is far more successful. The front end features the brand’s new “3+3” headlight design with new, full LED that evoke the look of the SZ Zagato.
The triangular grille with Alfa Romeo badge is flanked two horizontal air intakes, the brand’s current design face. But the overall look is relatively clean and simple, free from extraneous design dross that mars too many modern vehicles.
As you might expect, the Tonale’s wheels feature the brand’s trademark circle design. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard on in Sprint and Ti models, while 19-inch shoes are fitted to the Veloce and optional on Sprint and Ti models. Twenty-inch wheels are optional on the Ti and Veloce. Roof rails are optional on all trim levels.
Cloth seats are standard on the Sprint and Ti, with Alacantara standard on the Veloce. Leather is available on the Ti and Veloce. An optional Premium Interior Package adds leather interior and vented front seats, and can be paired with the Sound Package, which adds a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.
Ti models can also be fitted with a High-Performance Driving Package, which brings with it aluminum steering-column-mounted paddle shifters, aluminum foot pedals, and red Brembo 4-piston monoblock brakes with white Alfa Romeo script. A power moonroof is optional on all models.
The first things you’ll notice about the Alfa Romeo Tonale is the upscale ambience of its interior, certainly more so than the Dodge Hornet. The seats are sporty and firm, with aggressive side bolsters and a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Overall ambience is premium, but even so, the side of the center console is not padded, being the same hard plastic as its plebian sibling. And while there is decent storage space on the center console, one wishes there were more. Cargo space is good, however, at 22.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up, 50.5 cubic feet with them folded.
While there are three drivelines offered elsewhere, Americans will get just one, a 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a 90-kW electric motor and a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery. The Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle produces 285 horsepower, 347 pound-feet of torque and an electric range of more than 30 miles.
The Tonale has a total range of 320 miles according to Alfa Romeo, with a top speed of 125 mph. The EPA hasn’t yet released its fuel economy ratings. Towing capacity is rated at 2,000 pounds; payload is 1,197 pounds.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale. Standard driver assistance safety systems include blind-spot assist, forward collision warning, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, brake assist, drowsy driver detection, park-assist, and rear cross path detection. An optional Active Assist Plus Package adds Includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, 360-degree cameras, and Park Assist on all trims.
The tech package is about what you’d expect, with a 12.3-inch color digital instrument cluster, and 10.25-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 3-D GPS navigation, voice recognition, AM/FM/HD/SiriusXM, Bluetooth, wireless charging pad and three years of standard Alfa Connect services. There are USB A/B/C outlets up front ad USB outlets in the rear.
Our test vehicle was tuned for Europe, which will be slightly different from the Tonale we receive stateside. But some observations can be made.
The battery-electric power helps the vehicle overcome any turbo lag generated by its tiny turbo powertrain. As with other Alfa Romeos, the Tonale comes with the automaker’s DNA driving modes, which include Dynamic, Natural and Advanced efficiency. In Natural mode, power is adequately responsive. It feels far more like the Alfa Romeos we know and love in Dynamic mode, where response if far livelier, and far less encumbered by efficiency nannies. And although the 6-speed automatic transmission proves prompt in its power delivery, working the paddle shifters can help the terminally impatient.
Engineers dialed in a fair amount of comfort along with its capability, so it’s no Giulia Quadrifoglio. But it still acquits itself fairly well, although really pushing this little Italian bambino will provoke the rear end to slide during aggressive cornering maneuvers, but it clearly communicates what’s happening. The same is true of the steering, miraculously enough, which manages to telegraph some of what’s going on at the wheels.
But like its Dodge sibling, the steering feels a little too light, particularly at low speeds, although it firms up somewhat at higher speeds. There is some mild body lean while cornering, but its onset is predictable and not excessive.
The ride is remarkably comfortably, absorbing the worst bumps without it filtering through to the cabin. The same is true of rutted pavement, making for a remarkably tranquil ride. Road and tire noise are not noticeable.
Unlike most automakers, whose technology reads speed limit signs and flashes it at the driver the nano-second speed is exceeded, the Tonale’s speedometer wears a subtle red stripe at the speed limit, no flashing or electronic admonition here. Thank you, Alfa Romeo.
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Specifications
|Dimensions||L: 178.3 inches/W: 73 inches/H: 63.2 inches/Wheelbase: 103.8 inches|
|Powertrain||1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 90-kW electric motor; 6-speed automatic transmission, AWD|
|Fuel Economy||Not rated|
|Performance Specs||285 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Pricing: $42,995-$49,695 excluding destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available for ordering|
While not as engaging as Alfa Romeo’s sportiest models, the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale still provides a bit of a premium Italian indulgence, a small taste of La Dolce Vida, like a great cup of espresso.
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale — Frequently Asked Questions
How How much will the new Alfa Romeo Tonale cost?
Prices start at $42,995 plus destination charge, taxes and options.
Is Tonale bigger than Stelvio?
No, the Tonale is smaller than the Stelvio, being a compact SUV. The Stelvio is a midsize SUV.
Is the Alfa Romeo Tonale fully electric?
No. But the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale is the first of what is going to be an electrified Alfa Romeo line-up.