In-depth reviews

Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV review

“The Alfa Romeo Tonale is a stylish SUV that’s good to drive, but rivals have better-quality interiors”

Carbuyer Rating

3.7 out of 5

Pros

  • Eye-catching looks
  • Hybrid powertrains
  • Fun handling

Cons

  • Limited interior storage
  • Interior quality
  • No manual gearbox

The Alfa Romeo Tonale feels like a car that the Italian brand has needed for a number of years. It has long seemed to be in a perilous financial position; while both are great cars, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Alfa Romeo Stelvio have struggled against rivals.

Launched into a fiercely competitive market, the Tonale could have its work cut out trying to prise buyers away from the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes GLA and Volvo XC40. This is a very popular size of car, though, so Alfa Romeo is likely to be hopeful that the Tonale will sell better than its other cars.

Top 10 best-looking cars 2022

We can see some buyers flocking to the Tonale for its styling alone, regardless of how good the rest of the package is. It looks tauter than the bigger Stelvio and features classic Alfa styling cues such as the triangular grille and slim headlights. The Tonale is also expected to be priced to compete with its closest competitors, so should be much more attainable than the Stelvio.

Thanks to its shared underpinnings with Fiat and Jeep models, the Tonale is looking to the future with a range of hybrid engines. Topping the line-up is Alfa Romeo’s first-ever plug-in hybrid, featuring four-wheel drive, a decent electric range and a healthy 271bhp power output.

Beneath the Hybrid Q4 is a 1.5-litre petrol engine hooked up to a 48-volt electrical system. This comes with 158bhp (there’s also a 128bhp version that UK buyers won’t get), and all engines come with an automatic gearbox as standard. The mild-hybrid system allows you to complete low-speed manoeuvres on electric power alone. 

It’s no great shame that UK customers miss out on the entry-level engine, because our drive revealed that even the more powerful 158bhp engine doesn’t have the sharpest responses. Keep it in the Dynamic drive mode and it’s better, but the unit doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the car's driving dynamics, such as the excellent handling; you’d never guess that its platform is also used to underpin the rougher and more rugged Jeep Compass.

The interior looks almost as stylish as the exterior, but you’ll soon come across some surprisingly cheap-feeling materials. There are big slabs of hard, scratchy plastics in some places, and occasionally you’ll find some elements that feel a little flimsy. Practicality is perfectly decent, if not class-leading.

Both the trim levels available to UK buyers, Ti and Veloce, get a slick touchscreen with smartphone mirroring and lots of connectivity. Standard equipment also includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting and dual-zone climate control, while Veloce adds a sportier body kit, red brake calipers and Alcantara suede upholstery.

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