Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV: “excellent performance …”




Alfa Romeo has finally entered the SUV market with the Tonale – a crossover aiming to take on the likes of BMW’s X1 or Audi’s Q3.

Its personality seems contradictory, with an aggressive front end coupled with a contrasting friendlier, rounded style at the side, while the rear features a cool lightbar that spans the bodywork.

Alfa Romeo has high hopes for the Tonale, believing it will soon be its most popular model, so there’s quite a lot hinging on its success.

Two four-cylinder turbocharged petrol powertrains are offered in the form of a front-wheel drive 1.5-litre mild hybrid producing 160PSwith a seven-speed automatic. Meanwhile, the 280PS plug-in hybrid (PHEV), driven here, offers all-wheel drive from its 1.3-litre engine, which is hooked up to a six-speed automatic ‘box.

A generous amount of equipment is offered, with the entry-level Ti trim getting 18-inch alloys, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with SatNav, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice control provided by Amazon Alexa.

It also gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument screen, wireless phone charger, rain-sensing wipers, gloss black painted body kit, dual-zone air conditioning and keyless go. A leather sports steering wheel, an automatic tailgate and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support also form part of the package.

The mid-range grade under review gets 19-inch rims, red-painted brake callipers, privacy glass, adaptive suspension, aluminium gearshift paddles and plenty of additional styling touches.

The Edizione Speciale trim is marketed as the top-of-the-range model. Yet, it is the cheapest version, primarily based on the Ti trim, adding 20-inch alloys, a prominent exhaust and aluminium door sills, plus other styling elements.

On the road, the Tonale PHEV deals with 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds, which isn’t bad for an SUV. The mild-hybrid, by comparison, takes 8.8 seconds to do the same.

The PHEV makes excellent progress, moving swiftly off the line thanks to the instant torque provided by the electric motor – and it’s untroubled at any speed.

The 280PS on tap provides effortless acceleration. However, when flooring the throttle, the gearbox can be more hesitant to change down versus the mild hybrid, as the PHEV tends to seek power from the electric motor first, only changing down if it needs to.

While the mild hybrid feels more instantaneous in that respect, the PHEV easily outmuscles it, which will likely placate Alfa die-hards disappointed only to have a choice of hybrid powertrains.

The Tonale is surprisingly agile around corners for an SUV, limiting body lean in bends and feeling far lighter than its nearly two-tonne kerb weight suggests.

The mild hybrid feels even better because it carries 310kg less bulk, but the PHEV is still the pick of the bunch given its economy figures, which I’ll come on to shortly.

The feedback through the steering wheel is limited, but the wheel does firm up at speed around corners, and there are three driving modes which impact its firmness, along with adjusting other characteristics of the car.

As a result of its enthusiastic handling, it’s by no means the best in class for comfort, but even with larger alloys, it’s certainly not bad. This is likely helped by the DSV adaptive suspension on the Veloce trim, which improves the ride. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available on the Ti trim, but the Ti’s smaller wheels somewhat offset its loss.

The PHEV has a 15.5kWh battery, which can be fully charged from empty in around two-and-a-half hours from a 7.4kW home wall box. However, it won’t charge any faster, even if you’re using a public charging facility capable of much higher speeds.

The Tonale PHEV’s all-electric range is 42 miles, and it’ll manage 217mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 29-33g/km. These figures make it a reasonably attractive proposition for company car users due to the low Benefit in Kind tax. Meanwhile, the mild hybrid manages 49mpg, producing 130-142g/km of CO2.

You also get a three-year unlimited-mileage warranty. What’s more, Alfa has entered the crypto world with NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to record things like servicing and ownership history, making the car’s records impossible to forge.

The Tonale’s interior is refined, but it isn’t awe-inspiring, falling slightly short of the wow factor you might expect from an enthusiastic Italian manufacturer. Don’t get me wrong; the Alfa still has some lovely touches, such as circular air vents and a rounded dashboard top above the instruments.

The infotainment screen is pleasing to use, offering an intuitively straightforward menu layout. However, there’s no rotary dial, as seen in some other Alfa Romeos, while the shortcut buttons next to the screen are so small they risk distracting you from the road ahead to work out what you’re pressing.

The air conditioning controls are still physical buttons, thankfully, while the instrument screen is informative and customisable, too.

The driving position feels quite low-down, but Alfa Romeo has pulled off a neat trick by mounting the dashboard slightly higher up, giving you the illusion of feeling closer to the ground.

There is a bunch of space in both the front and the back, although the legroom is a tad more limited in the rear. The headroom should be plentiful unless you’re well over six feet tall.

Thanks to the shape of the rear side windows, the back pillars are very bulky, restricting visibility. Still, parking sensors are offered on all models as standard, along with a rear-view camera, which can be upgraded to a 360-degree camera by choosing one of several upgrade packs provided as optional extras.

Storage space in the cabin is generous, too, although the door bins could be more accommodating.

The PHEV’s boot only offers 385 litres of space, 115 litres less than the mild hybrid, increasing to 1,430 litres with the rear seats folded down in a 60/40 configuration.

The Tonale earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, along with an 83% score for adults, 85% for children and 85% for safety assists, which include automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and lane support system.

You also get intelligent adaptive cruise control, drowsy driver detection, a tyre pressure monitoring system, traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed assist as standard on all models. Optional extras add even more, including Level 2 autonomous driving features.

Overall, the Alfa Romero Tonale has plenty going in its favour.

The Italian SUV is generously equipped as standard, meaning upgrading to the Veloce trim is likely unnecessary. Furthermore, it retains a firm but reasonable level of ride comfort and excellent performance alongside superb economy figures.

Fast Facts – Alfa Romeo Tonale [1.3 PHEV 280 Auto Q4 Veloce trim] as tested:

  • Max speed: 128mph
  • 0-62 mph: 6.2-secs
  • Fuel economy: 217mpg
  • Engine layout: 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine with electric motor
  • Max. power (PS): 280PS
  • CO2: 29-33g/km
  • Price: £48,495

Main Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is Sorted Magazine’s Motoring Editor. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches around the world. The dad-of-three has a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism and has been a presenter and producer at ITV Central. He has also worked as a radio reporter and undertakes video and voiceover work. You can follow and interact with Tim on Instagram @tbarnesclay

You may also like

Sorted Magazine

Sorted discusses the big issues of the day – focusing on subjects as diverse as culture, sport, cars, health, faith, gadgets, humour and relationships. We aim to be positive and wholesome in all we do. And we have been achieving this since 2007.

Every printed issue of Sorted is read by more than 100,000 men in 21 different countries – while digitally, the number of people reading our online content (free and via subscription) continues to soar.




Follow Us



Visit our shop for great gift ideas