The Alfa Romeo Tonale represents a new era for the Italian luxury brand long known for its racing heritage and prowess. The launch of the Tonale was dubbed “La Metamorfosi”—the metamorphosis—signaling an evolution that combines more than 110 years of heritage and exhilarating driving dynamics with modern sensibilities like electrification, connectivity and driver assistance.
Alfa Romeo’s history outside of racing has been tumultuous, having been bought and sold several times over its century-plus of existence. Currently, it falls under the Stellantis umbrella with marques brands such as Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. As the company’s luxury brand, Alfa Romeo aims to convert buyers from BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. With Tonale, an attractive price point, artful styling and stellar performance make for a winning combination.
The only obstacle to its success is name recognition. Stephanie Goldstein, head of marketing for Alfa Romeo, explains, “It’s not a household name, and we have some work to do in terms of awareness. We have our true ‘Alfisti’—fans of the brand, those who have been with us through thick and thin. With Tonale, we are chasing another customer: the new Alfisti.”
In terms of size, Tonale is a bit smaller than Alfa’s other popular crossover, Stelvio. As expected, Tonale’s design is focused on the driver. You won’t find a huge vertical infotainment system dominating the center dash. Instead, the tech is integrated horizontally, unobtrusively, giving the driver the ability to customize screen layout for easy access to operational controls without having to punch icons and sift through endless menus to perform the desired task. Which is not to imply that Tonale is low-tech.
It is the first to debut non-fungible token (NFT) technology. With the customer’s consent, the NFT will record vehicle data, generating a certificate that can be used as a guarantee that the car has been properly maintained, with a positive impact on its residual value. It features built-in Amazon Alexa and all the expected driver assistance, safety systems both active and passive, and entertainment amenities luxury buyers have come to expect. Over-the-air system updates ensure that the tech is always current.
Its carved, artful exterior has won design accolades around the world. The interior aesthetics are attractive, but could benefit from more premium materials, soft-touch surfaces, and less hard plastic. Still, it evokes a premium feel that is comfortable and welcoming for jaunts around town and further-flung adventures. The soundtrack for your journeys is delivered through an impressive 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Tonale is one of very few vehicles that combines the evenly balanced feel and performance of a sports car with the practicality and functionality of a family hauler.
The most important conversation about Tonale is performance. All three trim levels—Sprint, Ti, and Veloce—come with all-wheel drive and a 285-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain. Alfa Romeo is the first brand to bring electrification to the Stellantis stable. It has plenty of pep off the line, accelerating from zero to 60 in about 5.6 seconds. It’s not racecar fast, but it provides sufficient power for everyday driving—just enough to tempt you toward the upper edges of the speed limit.
And about that hybrid powertrain…
“It’s a partial hybrid. Truly the best of both worlds. Why? You can run around town and ride on all-electric, all week. But if you want to take a road trip, you’re not going to have any worries or be beholden to charging stations,” Goldstein says. “There’s no range anxiety. The people you’re driving with don’t want to hear about that; they want to listen to a podcast.”
Tonale can go up to 33 miles on electric power alone and will fully recharge in about two and a half hours on a 240-volt connection. Alfa Romeo has done an exceptional job of integrating new technology while staying true to its heritage as a driver’s car. In fact, the automaker has optimized driving dynamics, stability, steering, and all-around performance by employing the latest technology and engineering advances. But all you’ll care about is how it feels, how it performs, and how it looks in your driveway. It’s safe to say that Tonale is the right vehicle to usher in the new generation of Alfisti.