Alfa Romeo Tonale: Italian Design in a stylish, feature-packed SUV
Car Reviewed: Alfa Romeo Tonale 1.5 MHEV Veloce 160 DCT
The starting buttons are typically located on the steering wheel in Italian automobiles; this is also the case in a Ferrari and also in the Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce. The Italians have a preference for this placement.
A Ferrari may be out of reach for many of us, but this compact SUV crossover with its hanging button is not. It is the kind of design feature that makes you grin because while a Ferrari may be out of reach for you, the Tonale may be more achievable.
You can believe you are driving a Ferrari every time you push that button, even while driving your children to school, shopping, or going to a football game. And when you switch the driving mode to Dynamic mode, you might be excused for dreaming even bigger dreams.
Putting this car into D and leaving it there was, in my opinion, the best choice. Alfa Romeo driving modes are named DNA for Dynamic, Normal as the default, and A for Advanced Efficiency which prioritises fuel economy. However, I found that putting this car into D and leaving it there was the best choice. It makes everything tauter, adds a little bit of push, and transforms it into a beast on the bends.
The vehicle itself is sleek and very Alfa; it exudes an air of Italian style and sophistication.
It sports a striking front end with a grille in the expected triangular style with an offset numberplate, both of which are trademark Alfa Romeo characteristics. When viewed from behind, the daytime running lights appear to be a pair of dozing eyelashes reflected in the tail lights.
This Tonale Veloce model (Veloce meaning speed in Italian) rests on alloy wheels that are 19 inches in diameter. A shark’s fin antenna is mounted atop the vehicle.
On the inside, the headrests are upholstered in black perforated Alcantara with a contrasting red, highlighting the magnificent embroidered Alfa Romeo emblem. This creates the ambience for an extremely luxurious interior.
This is continued with the use of materials that have a pleasant touch and technology; there is a touchscreen measuring 10.25 inches and includes a radio, USB, Bluetooth, audio streaming, and voice control.
The nearby instrument cluster that measures 12.3 inches can be customised to display whichever information you find most useful.
The inside is delightful, and the high seat height provides a good perspective of what’s ahead on the road. There is a USB outlet in each of the three back seats, and there are 12v plugs in the front of the vehicle and the trunk.
The boot has a storage capacity of 500 litres, which may be increased to 1,550 litres by folding the back seats. In addition, each of them may be lowered to a lower position independently, and the boot floor has two different levels.
The Tonale is the first electrified vehicle from Alfa Romeo, but the Italian automaker plans to release many more in the next couple of years. To be fair, the Tonale is only a mild hybrid, as it only provides an additional boost to the 1.5-litre unleaded petrol engine when required.
Having said that, the mpg is not terrible – it is significantly better than a Ferrari – but it will likely get even better this year when Alfa brings out their plug-in hybrid version of the Tonale. In addition, there are plans to produce a fully electric vehicle.
Alfa Romeo has recently become a subsidiary of the expanding Stellantis business, which is currently directed by Carlos Tavares, who does not appear to ever make a mistake. Thanks to his efforts, there is not a single brand he has focused on that has not improved over time.
It does not appear like the Alfa Romeo Tonale, with its Italian sense of flair and performance, will alter that trajectory.
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.