Alfa Romeo Tonale Review and Prices
The Alfa Romeo Tonale looks smart and is good fun on twisty roads, but it’s not the most comfortable small SUV out there.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Alfa Romeo Tonale
The Alfa Romeo is an Italian high-heeled shoe of a small SUV, stylish and glamorous but certainly not the most comfortable thing to be in around town.
Initially coming with hybrid power before a powerful 4×4 plug-in hybrid is added at the beginning of 2023, the front-wheel drive Tonale combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a very small electric motor to boost efficiency and performance. It’s priced to compete head-on with the BMW X2, while other alternatives for those considering a Tonale include the Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q3 Sportback and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
Inside, the jump in quality over previous Alfa Romeos is instantly obvious, with a new 10.25-inch touchscreen and widespread use of soft-touch materials giving the car a more expensive feel. The new touchscreen system could be quicker to respond, but at least looks good, while it’s nice to see the main climate controls kept separate from the touchscreen in a long row of accessible buttons.
One thing to note with the interior is that stowage space is no better than average, something that carries through from the front to the rear seat area. Headroom is good in the back, and legroom is on par with the class.
The boot is a good size – bigger than other premium sporty SUVs – and it has a handy split-level arrangement with notches to keep the raised floor at a 45-degree angle while you’re getting at the bits stored below.
Inside, the jump in quality over previous Alfa Romeos is instantly obvious and it's a characterful option for families.
It takes no more than several seconds behind the wheel to detect that the Tonale isn’t built to be a comfortable and cosseting experience, with bumps, ripples and drain covers making themselves obvious as the car thumps over them. But the pay-off comes when the road goes twister, with Alfa’s small SUV proving to be composed and avoiding the kind of quease-inducing lean that most suffer from. But if comfort over poor-quality roads is more important than how good your small SUV is to drive, then others such as the Audi Q3 Sportback could be a better bet.
It’s also a shame that the power isn’t delivered in a way to encourage that sportier drive. There’s a surprisingly lengthy gap between pressing the accelerator and the petrol engine delivering the requested performance. It’s a frustrating characteristic and, combined with a hybrid system that only rarely runs on battery alone, accounts for the biggest room for improvement. But efficiency figures are good.
The Alfa Romeo Tonale is one of the more fun small SUVs from the driver’s seat, and the interior quality along with the good looks and efficiency bring a welcome dose of Italian flair to the basket of premium small SUV alternatives.
How much is the Alfa Romeo Tonale?
The Alfa Romeo Tonale has a RRP range of £38,596 to £42,496. However, on carwow prices for a new Alfa Romeo Tonale start at £38,595 if paying cash or £457 if paying monthly - saving on average £0.
The most popular versions of the Alfa Romeo Tonale are:
|1.5 MHEV Veloce 5dr Auto||£42,495||Compare offers|
|1.5 MHEV Speciale 5dr Auto||£38,595||Compare offers|
|1.5 MHEV Ti 5dr Auto||£39,995||Compare offers|
A very decent boot and room for four adults make the Tonale as sensible as it is stylish
The cloth/vegan leather front seats are comfortable, and offer a good range of adjustments to help find the best driving position. Front and rear areas both have USB and USB-C sockets, as well as a handy large wireless charging spot up-front that’s standard on every car as part of a good equipment list that also sees all models get a powered boot, keyless entry and a rear parking camera.
Rear passengers will be as comfy in the back as they would in any compact SUV, with the biggest problem being the low roofline that adults will need to duck under to avoid knocking their head. Once in, there’s plenty of space for two fully grown people, and three will be cosy width-wise and for foot-room, but at least the central cushion is flat.
There are easily accessible ISOFIX points on both the outer rear seats, and bulky child seats should easily fit in behind the front-seat passenger without inhibiting their legroom too much.
The front door bins will take a decent-sized bottle, but not much else, and it’s the same story for the rear doors, which each house a bottle holder. There are two cupholders in the front, and a small space beneath the sliding front armrest to stash things away from prying eyes.
There’s also a fold-down armrest in the rear which includes a couple more cupholders, although the hard plastic is right where elbows could reside.
The boot is bigger than other premium small SUVs, offering good space as well as a split-level floor that can either hide smaller objects safely out of the way, or drop the floor to the lower level to increase space for larger loads. It will sit at a 45-degree angle on a pair of notches when you’re trying to get to those bits stashed underneath, which saves either having to hold it up with one hand or your head while you rummage. The boot also has a 12V socket and a pair of bag hooks.
The Alfa Romeo Tonale is entertaining to drive, although it’s not great over bumpier roads and the hybrid petrol engine could be more responsive.
The Tonale range is certainly simple, at least to start with, with only one engine option initially and three trim levels that will reduce to two by the end of 2022.
The hybrid is the one Alfa Romeo is going with first, a 160hp combination of 1.5-litre petrol engine and a small battery and electric motor that can power the car in very short bursts on its own, although it’s no Toyota Prius, and those short bursts are at nothing above a crawl. It recharges itself using energy recaptured when the car brakes, and does have an efficiency benefit, with the Tonale starting at 130g/km for emissions, and an official figure of 44.8mpg. That’s good compared with other similar models.
But if optimum efficiency is the goal, then the significantly more expensive and more powerful (275hp versus 160hp!) plug-in hybrid model, offering emissions of around 35g/km, will be worth waiting for. It goes on sale at the end of 2022.
Urban roads are not the Tonale’s best friend, with potholes, drain covers and other imperfections keenly felt rather than gently absorbed by the suspension.
Rearward visibility is a bit of an issue due to the combination of a fairly narrow rear window, big rear pillars and a couple of hefty rear headrests, and that hesitant response when the throttle is prodded is unhelpful when nipping in and out of busy traffic. But the light steering at least makes manoeuvring simple.
The Tonale’s dislike of less-than-smooth roads seems less acute as the speed rises, making it a better long-distance cruiser. There is a surprising amount of road noise, although our car was fitted with optional 20-inch alloy wheels rather than the standard 18- or 19-inch alloys on the respective trim levels, which won’t have helped noise or comfort.
Refinement is otherwise impressive, and the Tonale settles down nicely into a peaceful high-speed run with minimal wind noise penetrating the cabin.
The Alfa’s forte is the way it tackles bends. Though the steering could be a bit weightier – it’s great for urban driving but a bit light when you go looking for more entertaining roads – the Tonale is very adept at minimising the kind of lean you’d expect from a taller SUV and hides its height well.
But the limitations of the powertrain are most obvious when greater acceleration is called for, and the delay between prodding the accelerator and the forward motion arriving is frustrating. Once it’s over the little hesitation, it picks up speed nicely, if anything feeling quicker than the quoted 8.6-second 0-62mph acceleration time.
The Tonale gets a pleasant cabin with plenty of soft-touch materials and comfy seats, though there could be more stowage.
Alfa Romeo Tonale colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.