Car test – Alfa Romeo Tonale Q4 plug-in hybrid
To get straight to the point: the Alfa Romeo Tonale is a feast for the eyes. Especially in this green color Verde Montreal in the Veloce version with the hefty red colored calipers. The name Veloce is reserved for Alfa Romeo’s most powerful models. With this Tonale, that translates to a plug-in hybrid powertrain where all four wheels are driven, with a 1.3-liter gasoline engine of 118 kW (160 hp) and an electric motor of 90 kW (122 hp). Together, they are good for a top power output of 206 kW (280 hp).
Alfa Romeo Tonale qualifications
Appearance and paper qualifications are fine. The design draws quite a bit of attention from onlookers. The clunky and bold front end with heart-shaped Alfa grille and the vicious looking headlights, each of which features triple LED daytime running lights, is particularly successful. And the same goes for the rear with triple taillight units that gracefully merge with the shapes of the tailgate. The shapes are downright sensual, and along the way we find that many (know) to appreciate that.
The interior is inviting due to equally sensual shapes and fine materials. The dashboard in the Veloce, for example, is partially covered in alcantara containing a nearly full-width aluminum strip, which is beautifully indirectly illuminated in the dark.
Our eyes glide over a large freestanding display toward digital instrumentation. Between the front seats, a center console separates driver and front passenger. That features cup holders and a storage compartment whose flap acts as an adjustable center armrest. The seats provide good support and are upholstered in a combination of fabric and leather.
As befits Alfa Romeo, you activate the car with and press the start/stop button on the steering wheel. An animation of the Tonale’s front end appears in the instrument cluster with headlights lighting up. When turned off, there is an animation of the tail lights lighting up. A nice detail that imperceptibly tempts you a bit and fills you with pride that you drive Alfa Romeo Tonale. Bliss can depend on small things.
Alfa Romeo Tonale interior space
Interior space is adequate. An SUV, which is what the Tonale is, rarely offers cause for complaint in that regard. In the back, adults can also sit comfortably. The luggage space is not the largest. And we are not talking about competing models but other model variants of the Tonale without the plug-in hybrid powertrain. Those do not have a battery pack under the floor of the trunk, and that provides a bit more cargo volume in those versions.
Electric driving range
In exchange for less cargo volume, the Q4 plug-in hybrid does give you an electric driving range that can be called pretty good. It depends a bit on conditions and driving style, but on average, over 50 kilometers can be driven fully electric. Even on the highway at speeds up to 130 mph, the electric motor can manage just fine on its own.
Alfa Romeo DNA
If you want to achieve the maximum efficiency, then some study of the powertrain and its principle is recommended. We start with the driving modes, which, in good Alfa Romeo fashion, you set with the round DNA button. D stands for Dynamic, N for Normal and A for Advanced. In the latter mode, you can match throttle response, shift pattern of the automatic and electronically controlled shock absorption to your preference. In D state as in the sportiest setting. In N, the Tonale is less responsive and the shock absorption/suspension in particular is remarkably smooth. Frankly, a little too smooth, as the stiffer setting of D fits the Alfa Romeo experience and character better.
Driving in D makes the Alfa Romeo Tonale less economical. This is because the gasoline engine is always running, receiving support from the electric motor. In Normal mode, it does so only when necessary for rapid acceleration. The preference then is for electric driving. But: if you want to avoid that and keep the battery somewhat full, turn on eSave. The battery is then kept charged, so that you always have enough power to drive electric in town, for example. Of course, plug-in charging is also an option. Funny thing: in Dynamic driving mode, the Tonale brakes considerably itself on the powertrain, which is quite noticeable when descending a mountain road. And the battery pack is then recharged! So that D is an excellent option if you drive sportily on twisty and sloping roads.
How does the Tonale ride?
Comfort clearly prevails. Alfa Romeo has tailored the Tonale to a broad user base, not just fans of pure and nail-biting sportiness. With the available 280 hp and a good amount of torque, acceleration is certainly quick, but it only happens when the accelerator pedal is pressed firmly. The gasoline engine makes itself heard a bit more emphatically at higher revs. At low revs, a muffled hum sounds from the dual exhausts at the rear. Then it is also quiet in the interior, only hearing some rolling noise from the tires. There is hardly any wind noise.
The Alfa Romeo Tonale is a rarity on Dutch roads and that alone makes it special. The look takes care of the rest, as virtually everyone we encountered stopped and expressed appreciation for the appealing shapes. The price doesn’t make it for everyone. You drive in it starting at 44,900 euros. For that money, you do get a richly equipped SUV. The Tonale Veloce Q4 Plug-in Hybrid comes from 56,800 euros. Then you buy the most powerful and fastest version, as well as the most economical. Provided you charge on time at the plug or are smart with the eSave energy management. Highly recommended for those looking for an exceptional SUV that really does drive nicely and, by the way, is also remarkably solidly finished, with an infotainment system that is quick to link to your smartphone and thus works quickly. To learn more about pricing, equipment and details visit alfaromeo.co.uk.