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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale First Drive: One Step at a Time

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: D.Rufiange
  • EPA Category: Luxury compact SUV
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    Daniel Rufiange
    The Tonale SUV is the snazzier cousin of the new Dodge Hornet
    Blue 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
    Blue 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: D.Rufiange

    •    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale.

    •    The model comes with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but also with a 1.3L 4-cylinder turbo in a plug-in hybrid configuration.

    •    The PHEV version is eligible for all government discounts thanks to its sub-$55,000 MSRP.

    •    Starting price for the model is $44,995 (Sprint model, 2.0L engine).

    Rochester, MI - Alfa Romeo is introducing a second SUV to our market this year. Smaller than the Stelvio, the Tonale offers a welcome new option for fans of the legendary Italian brand. 

    If sales figures are anything to go by, there aren't currently that many of those fans here. At present, the company sells about 1,000 vehicles per year in Canada . There are many reasons for this, including the apprehension of some consumers regarding reliability of Alfa products

    Another is just the paucity of models in the lineup. So the Tonale is welcome, if only because it increases the company's offering by 33 percent as the Alfa roster grows from two to three models. In addition to the Stelvio SUV and now the Tonale, Alfa Romeo still offers its Giulia sedan. In terms of sales, the company hopes to double its results by selling 1,000 Tonales in its first year on the market. 

    This is both ambitious and realistic. Consumers won't jump en masse on this new SUV, but the fact that it's offered in a plug-in hybrid configuration will certainly appeal to many. 

    See also: Alfa Romeo Unveils the 2023 Tonale

    See also: 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale: Pricing Announced for Canada

    The all-new 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
    The all-new 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: D.Rufiange

    Alfa Romeo style
    There is one element more than any other that makes the Alfa Romeo style so distinct: the front grille, known as the Scudetto (small shield). It first appeared in 1934 on the 6 C 2300. Its shape, a triangle with rounded corners, is instantly recognizable. 

    The Scudetto has evolved over the decades, but it’s still there, and it adds a singular cachet to any product made by the brand. And, let's face it, the Italians are masters in the art of automotive design. Finding an ugly Alfa Romeo is almost impossible. That's why the Tonale, a cousin of the new Dodge Hornet, is so good. Nothing personal regarding the Hornet’s outer robe, but the Italian model is simply more elegant and attractive. 

     

    Strong points

    • Eye-catching design

    Weak points

    • None
    Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce logo
    Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce logo | Photo: D.Rufiange

    Versions offered
    The Tonale is offered in two trim levels: Sprint and Veloce. Two engines are available with each. First, a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Alf fans know this ne, since it’s the base engine for the Giulia and Stelvio. Then there's a 1.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant. The announced power is 285 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. 

    Yes, it's convincing under acceleration, with respective 0-100 km/h times of 6.5 and 6.0 seconds for the two configurations. 

    With the 2.0L block, Canadian prices for the Sprint and Veloce models are in the range of $44,995 and $46,495. With the PHEV approach, the MSRPs are $54,995 and $57,495 respectively. This qualifies the model for all possible government subsidies. 

    Note that in North America, only Canada and Mexico benefit from the 2.0L engine. Alfa Romeo's strategy is understandable. While PHEV models are expected to be sold in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, where charging infrastructure is the most developed in the country, they wanted to offer consumers (and dealers) in other regions an alternative to the traditional engine. 

    As for recharging, the 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery will take 2.5 hours at a Level 2 charging station to recover its energy. The charging capacity of the model is 7.4 kW.

    Strong points

    • 50 km range (this is the minimum) 

    Weak points

    • 50 km range (we would like more)
    Interior of the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
    Interior of the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: Alfa Romeo

    Equipment and options
    The Tonale is generously equipped from the start. Sprint model equipment includes 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, cloth sport seats with vinyl side bolsters, 8-way driver's seat adjustment (4-way passenger), heated front seats and steering wheel, 12.3-inch instrument cluster display (10.25 inches for the UConnect 5 multimedia system), navigation, wireless connection to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps and wireless charging for cellular devices, as well as keyless access. 

    Regardless of the engine under the hood, two individual options are available: a sunroof ($1,495) and 19-inch wheels ($1,500).

    Upgrading to the Veloce trim level adds a few features, but more importantly, it gives you access to more options. The model comes with an adaptive suspension, 19-inch wheels, 4-piston Brembo brakes (with red calipers), hands-free tailgate, leather (in the gas-engine version) or Alcantara (in the PHEV) seats and aluminum pedals and door sills. 

    With the 2.0L engine, you can add the Harman/Kardon package, which features a 14-speaker sound system, as well as memory for the driver's position ($1,200). With the PHEV model, you can enjoy both of these features, plus ventilated front seats ($2,995). It is also possible to simply select the ventilated seats ($1,895). 

    Note that a package adding safety features to the model is available for $2,500. It delivers an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 360-degree camera, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance and front and rear parking sensors. These add to a standard safety suite that includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic speed control with traffic sign recognition, driver attention monitor, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, and full-stop forward collision alert (when available). 

    Strong points

    • Generous standard equipment

    Weak points

    • Few options available with base version
    2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV
    2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV | Photo: D.Rufiange

    On the road
    On this day it was the PHEV version for me (I’d had the opportunity to drive the 2.0L Dodge Hornet last month). One of the reasons I chose this variant is that Alfa Romeo expects to sell this plug-in version more than any other in Canada, especially in provinces with advanced charging infrastructure. 

    The first thing to note, this model offers a more solid driving experience than the Hornet. The two players may share a platform and mechanics, but at a certain stage in the design process, the teams from the two divisions went their own ways to finish the job. Alfa Romeo's and Dodge's standards are not the same. 

    As a result, I found the handling much more interesting and reassuring here. Add to that a far superior level of soundproofing, which generally translates into more pleasant living behind the wheel. The better quality of finish and the presence of more noble materials are also noteworthy.

    The performance is also there, which increases the pleasure. The 6-speed automatic transmission (9 with the 2.0L engine) did a decent job, though it was sometimes hesitant. To be fair, I wasn't always gentle with starts and accelerations. 

    Front grille of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
    Front grille of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: D.Rufiange

    50 k
    The transition between electric and hybrid modes is smooth and seamless. You also have the choice, thanks to the DNA driving modes (Dynamic, Normal and Advanced Efficiency) to choose the type of behavior you want from the powertrain. It’s also possible to preserve the range available to use it where you want. This is estimated to be around 50 km. 

    I had no trouble finding a good driving position and the room up front is excellent. In the back, don't expect miracles, even if Alfa makes some heady claims about that. It’s a bit cramped. 

    Assembly quality passed the initial test and what annoyed me with the Dodge Hornet (a few loose parts, body noises) didn't bother me much behind the wheel of this Tonale. 

    Considering the smallish price difference (between $2,000 and $5,000, approximately) with the Dodge Hornet, I would definitely go for the Tonale. 

    Strong points

    • Nice handling on the road
    • Soundproofing level

    Weak points

    • 6-speed automatic transmission with PHEV version
    • Range only about 50 km
    Wheel of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
    Wheel of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: D.Rufiange

    The final word
    Alfa Romeo won't sell tons of Tonales, but this model will help it in North America, ahead of other additions to come. One step at a time. In PHEV form, because of the available discounts, the Tonale should prove attractive to many buyers looking for a more compact luxury SUV.

    As for Alfa Romeo, we can expect another product in 2025, and then one per year thereafter as the electrification process gets into full swing. The 100-year-old brand hasn’t had its last say. 

    Here are a few of your questions about the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale:

    What is the starting price of the Alfa Romeo Tonale in Canada?
    The Sprint version with 2.0L engine sells for $44,995 CAD. The Veloce variant is $46,495. For the PHEV models, pricing is as follows: Sprint, $54,995, Veloce, $57,495. 

    What is the range of the plug-in hybrid version of the Alfa Romeo Tonale?
    Alfa Romeo estimates it at about 50 km. 

    What are the competing models of the Alfa Romeo Tonale?
    The company is mainly targeting the German competition, so the BMW X1, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Audi Q3. 

    The competition

    Audi Q3
    BMW X1 / X2
    Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
    Lexus UX
    Mercedes-Benz GLA
    Volvo XC40

    Specifications sheet of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale 2024 Sprint EAWD

    Specifications sheet of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale 2024 Veloce EAWD

     

    Rear of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
    Rear of 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Photo: D.Rufiange

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    Photos:D.Rufiange
    2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale pictures
    Daniel Rufiange
    Daniel Rufiange
    Automotive expert
    • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
    • More than 75 test drives in the past year
    • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists