Three years on from its conceptual debut, Alfa Romeo’s plug-in hybrid Tonale compact SUV has been revealed in full, with Canadian orders set to open towards the end of 2022.
Dubbed ‘La Metamorfosi’ – the metamorphosis – Alfa Romeo’s first subcompact SUV will feature two drivetrain options in Canada when customer deliveries start at the beginning of 2023. One of those drivetrain options available in Canada, the Tonale PHEV mates a 180 hp 1.3-litre ‘MultiAir’ turbocharged four-cylinder – shared with Stellantis sister brand Jeep – with a 15.5 kWh battery and a 90 kW electric motor also said to produce 1,844 lb-ft of instant torque.
The ICE is connected to the front axle via a six-speed transmission, while the electric motor powers the rear wheels. Total output is 272 hp.
‘D. N. A.’ drive mode options for the PHEV range from the full fat, ‘Dual power/Dynamic’ (D) that draws full power from both the engine and the electric motor, through the everyday commuter ‘Natural’ (N), to ‘Advanced efficiency’ (A), with which the Tonale boasts “more than 48 km” of all-electric range.
Fast-charging details for North America have yet to be revealed, though the same 15.5 kWh battery on European models are fully charged in 2.5 hours when using a 7.4 kW fast charger.
Alongside the hybridized drive, Alfa Romeo has focused heavily on a new “connectivity platform” and new Uconnect 5 infotainment architecture, the latter of which is stated to be the most advanced in-car technology yet for Alfa.
Among the most interesting of elements of this new connectivity platform is an NFT (non-fungible token) certificate based on the ‘blockchain card’ concept. This essentially creates and updates a digital database of the vehicle’s service and maintenance records in an effort to keep resale values competitive. On top of this, a new Telematics Box Module makes over-the-air software updates easier for Tonale customers via Alfa Connect.
The advanced technology also includes Level 2 driver-assistance systems, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Centering, Automatic Emergency Braking and Driver Attention Assist among others (the latter sound an alert if throttle and steering wheel input suggest the driver is becoming drowsy). A 360-degree camera is also available when maneuvering at low speeds.
Though built atop Stellantis’ EV-dedicated STLA platform (the previous ‘Giorgio’ chassis having been axed), Alfa Romeo has nevertheless prioritized “sports car-like impeccable dynamic behavior” for its new C-SUV.
Apparently boasting “the most direct steering in its segment” – key competitors in which could include the Audi Q4 e-tron – the Tonale features a ventilated braking system from Brembo as well as fully independent MacPherson suspension and Frequency Selective Damping shock absorbers as standard. The FSDs automatically adjust according to inputs from the suspension, via the D. N. A. drive selector, and thus deliver a comfortable ride and/or control body roll for more dynamic cornering as needed. Despite the shared platform, the track on the Alfa has also been widened for heightened traction.
“Extraordinarily faithful to the 2019 concept”, the Tonale stands just over 5 ft tall, 6 ft wide and just under 15 ft long. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly for the Clover Leaf, the contemporary design draws direct inspiration from some of Alfa’s more celebrated models.
Look past the traditional ‘Trilobo’ grille and ‘Scudetto’ shield for example, and the ‘3 + 3’ headlight design is a nod to the ’89 SZ Zagato, while the ‘GT Line’ running down the flanks is a tribute to the Giulia GT Junior of the 1960s. The all-encompassing rear window meanwhile is influenced by the mid-2000s 8C Competizione.
This contemporary-traditional blend continues on the inside, as the configurable 12.3-inch digital dash has been designed using graphics that replicate historic Alfa gauges.
Two trim levels will also be available from launch in 2023 – the ‘Sprint’ and the ‘Veloce’ – though neither the details of these, nor a starting price for the Tonale in North America, have been revealed yet.
The Tonale will be built in Alfa Romeo’s ‘Giambattista Vico”’ Stellantis plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, Naples. First opened in 1972, the facility’s assembly line has recently been revamped for EV production.