That's it, several months after its release, I was finally able to try theAlfa Romeo Tonale. No thanks to the press service Alfa Romeo but because I need to change my compact SUV, the Tonale was at the top of the list of candidates and I tried it out at a dealer. So do I buy the Tonale? The answer is no. However, it is not a bad SUV. The explanation in my test below.
Welcome to my head as a potential customer
I'm not going to offer you a test of the Tonale as you are used to read. There are already many of them on blogs, on youtube... You won't get any unpublished pictures, fuel consumption tests, trunk pictures, etc. No, I'm going to give you instead a test in my head as a potential customer who is also passionate about the Alfa Romeo brand. As it was a trial for purchase, I didn't take the time to take pictures but it's the same Tonale as on the pictures of the Alfa Romeo press kit.
I am a "contemporary" customer of the Alfa Romeo brand. My father had an Alfa Romeo 147, I had an Alfa Romeo 159 (which I liked a lot with its qualities and its defects), an Alfa Romeo MiTo (which I still have, perfect city car), an Alfa Romeo Giulia (which I loved), and I could try an Alfa Romeo 4C, an Alfa Romeo Giulietta 150 hp, a Alfa Romeo Stelvio 280 hp and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio with manual transmission please.
So I was for years very piqué Alfa RomeoI had to replace my Giulia (sadly) until 2020, when there was no new Italian model in the showroom. I first went to the German competition, Audi, with the promise that the next one would be an Alfa Romeo again. Probably the Tonale because the concept had already been presented in 2019 at that time.
Then I followed the development of the Tonale: no Giorgio platform, Jeep Compass base, the PSA/FCA merger, the delay of the Tonale launch, until the presentation of the production model almost a year ago. I said to myself: "I love the look, it's an Alfa Romeo. The interior, well, I preferred the Giulia. The driving "Alfa Romeo", skeptical, with the Fiat platform".
I was still looking forward to testing the Tonale. As I was not invited to the press tests, I waited for the moment to change cars to test the Tonale. This is finally a good thing because, in real conditions, I also tested the competition at the same time.
Tonale test drive: design, interior, driving and price
As explained above, since the Giulia, I have been driving an Audi Q3 S-Line for 3 years. I had plenty of time to make my own opinion about the Deutsche Qualität. Now it's time to change the model and the candidates are Tonale (obviously) and X1, Q3, XC40 and GLA. It is well on here subject in this Tonale review: design, interior, driving and price.
The design: the most beautiful but not very customizable
Of all compact SUVs, it is certainly the most beautiful Tonale. Whether it is the Sprint, Ti or Veloce version, when you see it in real life, it is beautiful. Of course, some people will criticize some details here and there (which I could read in some tests of the Tonale) but frankly it is the most beautiful compact SUV compared to the competitors. It's a good thing, that's what we expect from an Alfa Romeo.
The only criticism I will make about the design is lack of personalization ! And no thanks to Stellantis, no thanks at all! Whereas a few years ago you could have the choice between 7 exterior colors, 5 caliper colors, 7 rim models and 4 interior colors, the customization of the Tonale is really poor. 6 colors (including white, grey and black), 2 rims, 2 colors of calipers at best (red or black) and black alcantara or black leather interior... How sad.
So here you go, will you configure it for me in black, 19″ rims, black calipers and black interior please.
The interior, the multmedia: good and bad
I get on board, and there, the doubts I had when the press photos came out are confirmed!
This is a very personal opinion but, as much as I had seen a good spectacular finish when I switched from the 159 to the Giulia, as much in the Tonale I have the feeling of a regression.
To start with the positiveThe dashboard is quite nice, the digital screen with the meters is also nice and is even better than what I have on the Audi Q3. The multimedia works well, it's fluid, it's the same as on the electric Fiat 500 but also on Maserati.
Then for the less good The door trim is not crazy with a lot of hard plastics, mirror adjustment buttons like I have on the MiTo, window buttons with any design. The center console with the gearshift is not great either, it's a bit crude, you can see the similarity with its sister the Jeep Compass, it's not very Latin. And then the Alcantara seats, you either like them or not, I don't like them. Not the Alcantara material, but the impression on the shape to see the seats of a Fiat 500X.
The ride: a compact SUV not a sporty MHEV
I was planning to take the Tonale PHEV 280hp, which is the sportiest of the range. At the test drive my dealer had only the MHEV 130 hp to offer me. Here is what I think about it.
The 130 hp MHEV is not that bad. Already the gearbox. I read a lot of bad reviews about it. I thought it was good. And yes, it's a 130hp 1.5 ton, were you expecting an F1 gearbox? The 130hp engine is good for those who have a cool ride. I feel like I'm driving a 95hp Fiat 500 with this engine for comparison. It goes up quietly to 110, it has a little more trouble to go up to 130, and that's it. The objective is not to go to the breaker with this engine.
For those who have a cool, economical driving style, the 130 hp will be sufficient. For those who want a little spice from time to time, the 160 hp will be ok too. After that, you should not expect more. These are not sporty engines. And the 7-speed automatic transmission does its job well for what we expect from this engine.
I was surprised by the management. Forget the precise steering of a Giulia or Stelvio. The Tonale offers what I currently have on the Audi Q3: smooth steering, which will once again suit those who choose the 130hp or 160hp engines. It's not a car with a sporty character so far.
Finally, always for driving, I was positively surprised by the handling. For an SUV, the Tonale doesn't crash in corners or traffic circles, and that's positive and reassuring. It's better than the Audi on this point.
I wish I could have tested the 280 hp PHEV to give you my opinion...
The price: good value for money
A very important criterion when selecting a car: its price! You want value for your money.
At first, I found the Alfa Romeo Tonale expensive compared to what I have known. The Tonale Veloce PHEV 280 is still 56000 € ! That's expensive for a Compact SUV. For comparison, in 2016, my old Giulia Super 200hp was priced at €44000.
Then I looked at competition : Q3, X1, etc. And, equivalent equipment : 19″ wheels, 360 camera, autonomous driving, etc, and well, the Tonale is very well positioned in terms of price. For comparison, with similar equipment, a BMW X1 M Sport PHEV 245 hp is at 60,000 €.
Premium compact SUVs are expensive when they are well equipped, plug-in hybrids add to the bill Since, in France, a Tonale TI 160 hp is from 43 400 €, a Tonale TI 280 is from 53 500 €. That's €10,000 more for a car with 120 hp more. Thanks to the batteries.
So, even if on paper the Tonale is a good equipment/price ratio, when you have a compact SUV that is positioned at more than 50 000 €, the premium competition is good, very good. At this price, all the details count and for me, the interior is not up to the level what I have seen at Audi or BMW.
My opinion: the Tonale, a compact premium SUV not for everyone
I am very divided concerning the Tonale. First of all it is necessary to underline a compact SUV in the range is welcome because in Europe, this is what sells a lot. It was also necessary to "take it down a notch" compared to the Giulia and the Stelvio because they were two Alfa Romeo cars that at the time were not sufficiently accessible (but that respected the Alfa Romeo DNA). It is a priori a success since the Tonale has sold well since its launch and my salesman told me that he has signed several more this month for private and professional customers.
My opinion is that the Alfa Romeo Tonale is a good compact SUV. But being positioned in the premium segment, it will not be suitable for everyone:
On the one hand, it will be able to convert MiTo and Giulietta enthusiasts, and on the other hand, the Tonale will correspond to Peugeot, Volkswagen, Skoda and Toyota customers...
...on the other hand, Giulia and Stelvio enthusiasts will feel like they are going backwards and I find it hard to believe that BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, Lexus customers would switch to a Tonale.
You will have understood that, as far as I am concerned, after having had a Giulia, then an Audi, I have not been conquered by the Tonale. What I think it lacks, at this price: an interior worthy of a premium car that feels "wow" when you get in it, and more customization possibilities, as it used to.
- The most beautiful compact SUV ;
- A very good ratio equipment / price;
- Sound Road Handling;
- Technology / multimedia on the level.
- Not a sporty Alfa Romeo SUV in 130 hp and 160 hp;
- Price starting at 53000 € in PHEV ;
- Interior that regresses compared to the Giulia / Stelvio ;
- Lack of customization for the price.