Electrification is looming for Alfa Romeo. The company has plans to reveal a battery-electric vehicle in 2025, and until then, it will begin introducing hybrid and plug-in hybrid models in its lineup. The first of these vehicles is the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale, which seeks to keep Alfa’s fun-to-drive spirit while preparing for a future full of batteries.
Alfa Romeo on Tuesday unveiled the 2023 Tonale SUV. This small crossover will be positioned against the likes of the Cadillac XT4 and Lincoln Corsair in the US. Globally, five variants of Tonale will be offered: two gas-electric hybrids, a plug-in hybrid, a gas-only version and a diesel.
Given the US’ rocky relationship with diesels, and the fact that the standard Tonale hybrids are a smidge underpowered for the US at 130 and 160 horsepower, we’ll be limited to just two stateside variants. The gas-only Tonale will utilize a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 producing 256 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Power reaches all four wheels by way of a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The second version in the US will be the plug-in hybrid, which produces a net 272 hp from a 1.3-liter turbo I4 powering the front wheels and a 90-kilowatt electric motor out back. Its 15.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery aims to provide a manufacturer-estimated range in excess of 30 miles; however, the EPA will obviously have the final say here. An automatic transmission will be utilized in this version, as well, but it’ll have 9 speeds instead of 6. All-wheel drive is standard on this one, as well.
Alfa Romeo made sure to focus on chassis developments that would make the Tonale more interesting to drive, since it’s not just about efficiency. MacPherson-style struts hang out front and rear, while adaptive dampers will let owners have a cushier or sportier ride, depending on their mood. Brembo brake calipers will help bring everything to a stop, since slowing down is just as important as speeding up.
In terms of design, the Alfa Romeo Tonale is a little more evolution than revolution. The front end sits a little lower, visually, than its larger sibling, the Stelvio. The headlights and taillights pick up a three-element design that, according to Alfa, serves as a bridge to similarly-kitted-out Alfa Romeos of yore, like the SZ. The Tonale is devoid of harsh, aggressive angles, opting for smoother sculpting all around, although there’s a pretty strong shoulder line running the length of the car just under the door handles. Alfa’s classic rotary-telephone-dial wheels are present and accounted for, as well.
Like the outside, the Tonale’s interior builds on what’s already there without casting it all aside. The double-bubble gauge binnacle remains, but the rest of the dashboard has gone on a diet, giving the 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen a love-it-or-leave-it “floating” design. The climate controls are sleeker, but the buttons are still physical. The mode dial has been moved closer to the driver, while a traditional gear lever hangs out where it normally does.
The Uconnect 5 infotainment system runs on Android Automotive OS, borrowing some features we’ve seen on other Stellantis vehicles, like pages that deliver additional information on vehicle output and performance. The telematics also include over-the-air updates, Amazon Alexa compatibility as well as Google Assistant connectivity, the latter two allowing you to unlock, lock or start the vehicle from your couch. The Tonale also utilizes Alfa Romeo’s own app for those ancillary benefits, should you prefer to tap your phone instead of shouting at a speaker. For those of you who’d rather stick to your phones, wireless and are also included. A 12.3-inch digital cluster allows for more configurability, including its layout, which can be set up to resemble a vintage Alfa Romeo and its radial-style gauges.
Some driver-oriented vehicles eschew the usual complement of modern safety systems, but not the Tonale. The Alfa can be equipped with all the familiar faces like automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, parking sensors and a surround-view camera. It will also handle traffic jams through a combination of lane-centering assist and full-speed adaptive cruise control.
That brings us to the 500-pound gorilla in the room, the NFT. No, Alfa Romeo isn’t going to try and sell you a computer-generated image of a zombie elephant wearing the British crown jewels. Instead, this NFT will be used as a verifiable ledger of the vehicle’s official service records, which aims to improve residual values as these new cars become used. However, there’s a pretty big caveat: This ledger will only cover work performed at Alfa Romeo dealerships, so if you’re the type to seek out a third-party mechanic, this bit may not apply to you.
The 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale will start hitting dealerships in the first quarter of 2023, but the order books will open up in the fourth quarter of 2022. Pricing has not yet been set, but Alfa Romeo did say that the Tonale will be available in three trims: the sportier Sprint, the midrange Ti and the fancier Veloce. All Tonales will be built in Italy at the automaker’s plant in Naples.