Alfa adds a spicy, electrified Tonale SUV appetizer to the menu

Alfa Romeo is entering the US subcompact SUV market with its Tony Tonale.

Sporting the premium Italian marque’s signature triangular “Trilobo” grille and muscular lines, Alfa’s entry-level ute will rival segment stalwarts like the BMW X1, Cadillac XT4, Mercedes GLA and Jaguar E-Pace with standard all-wheel drive and all-digital interior displays.

Despite its small size, the Tonale has big ambitions as Alfa’s first electrified vehicle – opening the door for the brand The Metamorfosi transitioning to all-battery models later that decade. The Tonale comes standard with a familiar gasoline-powered 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine, but customers can opt for a more expensive plug-in hybrid that generates 272 horsepower from two electric motors mated to a turbocharged 1. 3 liter.

Unlike other high-end manufacturers that offer a menu of entry-level performance sedans as well as SUVs, Alfa offers the Tonale SUV as the sole appetizer to its bigger dishes, the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio SUV. But the brand still promises that the large all-wheel-drive sedan will be imbued with the same DNA that has always made Alfa customers’ hearts beat a little faster.

“If you look at our history or our present, you realize that Alfa Romeos are designed with a sense of purpose which means they have an intimate relationship between body and soul,” said Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, Alfa design director. “Dynamics, ergonomics and all other important functional aspects. . . have always been dressed with beautiful bodies. This is what we at Alfa Romeo call this sense of beauty, and this is precisely what Tonale looks like.

Completing the promise of the sexy SUV concept that wowed onlookers at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, Tonale will be one of the best-dressed SUVs in its class.

A narrow bonnet of six headlights bisects the large Trilobo grille at the front. The design is reminiscent of the striking Alfa Brera sports coupe sold in Italy two decades ago. A strong so-called GT shoulder line – common to Alfas dating back to the iconic 2-series Spider models of the 1970s – runs under a narrow greenhouse. At the rear, red LEDs stretch across the rear deck, falling intermittently – like a heart rate monitor – to trace each of the six taillights along the way. The set rolls on 19 or 20 inch dial dial wheels.

The 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale has six red taillights echoing the front headlights.

“Tonale was designed with the courage of simplicity. He uses a limited number of lines to define his style,” Mesonero-Romanos said. “The GT line is an example of the line that crosses the car from front to rear, all at once.”

The design is reminiscent of the Mazda CX-30, which also made a bold statement in the subcompact class. It will provide formidable competition to Tonale as well as European luxury competitors.

The Tonale, however, will aim high with two beefy engine choices that will drive standard all-wheel drive.

The base engine is a 2.0-litre, 256-hp 4-cylinder turbo mated to a nine-speed transmission. European markets are getting a 130/160 horsepower hybrid powertrain, but product planners deemed this too shy for the high-powered, affordable U.S. gasoline market where owners don’t have to pay fuel taxes. engine displacement. A diesel engine will also be offered for the African and Middle Eastern markets.

Topping the Tonale lineup is the pioneering 272 horsepower plug-in powertrain. A 1.3-litre turbo-4 mill drives all four wheels with the help of a six-speed transmission and electric motors front and rear. Alfa has yet to disclose battery range alone, but expect more than 30 miles after plugging into the wall overnight.

These outputs compare favorably to Jaguar E-Pace’s 246-hp turbo-4 hybrid and 296-hp hybrid options. Mercedes GLA offerings include two AMG versions with more than 300 horsepower, and Alfa executives said they will be monitoring market demand for a raucous Quadrifoglio variant of the Tonale. The 505-hp Quadrifoglio monster is the halo trim for stablemates Giulia and Stelvio.

“We are electrifying the brand – but electrifying to support the driver-centric positioning of the Alfa Romeo brand (as we have done since) the beginning of our history in 1902,” said Alfa Romeo CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, flanked by a blue Tonale. at Alfa’s Museo Storico in Milan.

To keep things simple, Tonale will be offered in three versions: Sprint and Ti and Veloce. Standard bonuses include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane keep assist. Available options include level 2 autonomous driving assistance and larger wheels.

The 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale will have familiar touches like the start button on the steering wheel and the Alfa logo on the hub.

These features will be controlled via a crisp digital interior that echoes the simple exterior design. A configurable 2.3-inch instrument display sits under a dual cowl behind the steering wheel. Passengers can access infotainment options through a 10.25-inch tablet to its right. The screen is mounted high in the dash for good driver visibility, and both screens combine for a class-leading 22.5-inch width.

The console is anchored by a vertical shifter with a nearby drive mode button to switch between Advance Efficiency, Natural and Dynamic modes. In line with the latest digital technologies, the Alfa will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless connectivity, WiFi hotspot, Alexa voice activation and a phone app to monitor the car remotely.

The driver-focused interior of the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale features a tall dash-mounted infotainment screen, vertical shifter and console-mounted drive mode selector.

As an entry drug for Stellantis’ premium brand, Tonale is important for a US market that accounts for a third of the transatlantic automaker’s sales.

“We want to win in America,” Imparato said. “I have 50 clubs (cars) in America. The relationship between (customers) is that the car is something different compared to other brands in the industry.

In addition to Alfa’s obsession with performance, Imparato said Tonale is value driven: “I want to bring my customer the right residual value picture after 3-4-5 years on the road.”

To that end, the ute will come with an industry-first digital NFT (non-fungible token) that certifies the car upon purchase and then evolves with the car to track maintenance and other updates. up to date.

Tonale will likely cost between $37,000 and $50,000 when it hits the US market in late 2022 – around six months after its June launch in Italy.

Henry Payne is an auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at [email protected] or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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