PHEV joins ranks of Alfa Romeo’s small SUV with more power and 49 miles of electric range


Alfa Romeo has launched the plug-in hybrid variant of its Tonale SUV, adding to the mild-hybrid options that went on sale last year. Three trim levels will be available for the PHEV: the limited-edition, £44,595 Speciale and range-topping Veloce models can be ordered now whereas the entry-level Ti model will be out in spring 2023. 

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As the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, Alfa Romeo claims the Tonale PHEV is its most efficient car ever. Tonale PHEV models don’t receive much in the way of exterior tweaks to signify their electrified powertrain, however, the only giveaway being the charging flap on the rear three-quarter panel and reinterpretation of the Alfa Romeo “elettro-biscione” logo on the left rear window.

Plug-in hybrid engine details

The Tonale plug-in hybrid comes with a 1.3-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder that is essentially the same as the Jeep Compass 4Xe’s motor (no surprise given that the cars share the same underpinnings) but it’s mated to 15.5kWh battery. Alfa Romeo says this allows for a range of over 49 miles and reduces CO2 emissions to 29g/km from the Tonale mild-hybrid’s 144g/km. Charging speeds max out at 7.4kW so it’ll take 2.5 hours to recharge the Tonale PHEV’s battery. 

This electrification adds power to the Tonale mix. Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox,  the powertrain generates a grand total of 276bhp, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. The four-wheel drive system can deploy 100 per cent of the electric motor’s 121bhp to the rear axle, where the petrol engine sends its 178bhp to the front. Alfa Romeo says the system “guarantees maximum stability both off-road and on”. 

Every version of the Tonale PHEV gets Alfa Romeo’s ‘DNA’ drive mode system. This allows drivers to alter certain parameters, with Advanced Efficiency mode prioritising EV running in the PHEV. Natural is a balanced setting, while Dynamic primes the car’s systems for sportier driving.

Specs and pricing

Like the mild-hybrid Tonale, the PHEV version will kick off with a Ti model. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the Ti yet, but it will get 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, gloss black exterior accents, a “sport leather” steering wheel and black cloth upholstery.

Up next is the Speciale, which is a limited edition model. It gets titanium side and front exterior detailing, a ‘Speciale’ badge on the front wing, black 20-inch alloy wheels, metal pedals and red Brembo brake calipers. 

Veloce costs from £48,495 and for that you get ‘Veloce’ badging and a bespoke body kit, matt-painted detailing, 19-inch alloy wheels, black and red Alcantara upholstery and Alfa’s Dual Stage Valve suspension (DSV) which the firm says delivers a more comfortable ride. 

Standard kit fitted to every Tonale includes a 10.25-inch central touchscreen complete with DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging and six speakers. There’s also a 12.3-inch digital dash, two-zone air-conditioning, a reversing camera, keyless entry, electrically folding door mirrors and a powered tailgate also feature. 

Tonale features Level 2 autonomous driver assistance. Adaptive cruise control will keep the car in its lane on the motorway, plus autonomous braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, drowsy driver detection, blind spot and rear-cross traffic monitoring, and a 360-degree camera are all available.

Dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats, a Harman Kardon stereo, a powered tailgate and wireless smartphone charging feature, as does a 500-litre boot.

As for the mild-hybrid versions, the range kicks off with limited run Speciale cars, which start at £38,595 and will only be on sale for a limited time period. The kit list is shared with range-topping Veloce trim, but swaps the 19-inch wheels for 20s and adds unique ‘Speciale’ badging, and comes on a passive steel-sprung suspension setup instead of the Veloce’s adaptive dampers.

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Veloce models start from £42,495. Along with a sporty body kit, they have 19-inch wheels hiding powerful Brembo brake callipers and come fitted as standard with dual-stage adaptive suspension that’s firm when you want it to be and cosseting when you don’t. The sporty theme carries through to the inside where you’ll find black and red Alcantara upholstery.

But the entry-level point for the range (once Speciale is sold out) will be Ti, from £39,995. This model comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and a gloss-black body kit to the outside, while inside you’ll find aluminium pedals and gear shift paddles, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, four-way lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat and a rear bench that splits 60:40.

You can have your Tonale in one of six colours – Alfa White, Alfa Red, Alfa Black, Misano Blue, Montreal Green and Vesuvio Grey – and a leather interior is optional. For now, all models come fitted with a mild-hybrid 158bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Mild hybrid engines

The front-wheel-drive 1.5-litre turbo petrol hybrid units use a 48-volt electronic architecture. The 130 Hybrid offers 128bhp, while the 160 Hybrid gains variable turbine geometry tech for its compressor, increasing power to 158bhp.

Both engines are joined by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (there’s no manual option) and feature a 20bhp/55Nm electric motor that can propel the car at low speeds. For example, “e-Creeping” allows the Tonale to move slowly in EV mode, while the “e-Queueing” function can keep the car moving in a “stop and go pattern” in traffic. Low-speed parking manoeuvres can also be performed on electric power.

The Tonale features MacPherson strut suspension all round, with Frequency Selective Dampers (FSDs) as standard, while adaptive dampers will be available as an option. The FSDs change their damping characteristics depending on inputs from the suspension system, and are claimed to deliver a comfortable ride when it’s wanted, while controlling body roll to boost handling for more engaging cornering.

The Tonale’s new interior tech is also an important element, marking a step on for Alfa Romeo’s infotainment systems. The new model features a configurable 12.3-inch digital dash with graphics designed to replicate Alfa’s historic instruments. It’s joined by a 10.25-inch central touchscreen that features Amazon Alexa, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Alexa integration also offers an intuitive voice assistant, as well as a “secure delivery service” that allows owners to select their Tonale as the location for parcel drop-offs.

There are more connected services, too, while the Italian brand has also developed NFT tech, making the Tonale the first car to integrate blockchain technology. This will become a digital record of the car’s main life events, including servicing and any over-the-air software updates. Alfa claims it will help preserve residual values.

Keeping pace with the segment, the Tonale features Level 2 autonomous driver assistance. Adaptive cruise control will keep the car in its lane on the motorway, plus autonomous braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, drowsy driver detection, blind spot and rear-cross traffic monitoring, and a 360-degree camera are all available.

Dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats, a Harman Kardon stereo, a powered tailgate and wireless smartphone charging feature, as does a 500-litre boot.

Alfa’s engineers and executives collectively answer our questions

Q: Can the platform accept fully electric powertrains? If so, could we see a Tonale EV in the future?

A: “The first answer is yes, it can in terms of technical capability. We have kept that viable. We will decide whether to introduce the full BEV variant on the market depending on the conditions. Being a global vehicle, we will let the market inform whether there is actually the need for this segment. Based on that, we will decide whether to introduce a full BEV version.”

Q: What about a high-performance Quadrifoglio halo model? Is this also a possibility for the Tonale?

A: “Yes, we have the capability to do that as well, in terms of power, platform, suspension and steering – we are ready at a level that would easily make this possible. Again, we will see the market evolution. This segment is a peculiar one; it’s sort of rational compared with a larger SUV, so we will see if there is a demand for that [a Quadrifoglio performance model] at the global level and depending on that, we will introduce or not the Quadrifoglio version.”

Q: What will make this a true Alfa Romeo to drive?

A: “The DNA selector really changes the character. In Dynamic we maximise the electrification for maximum performance. We change the stability control and steering behaviour and we use dynamic torque vectoring to deliver dynamics you’d expect from any Alfa Romeo.”

Q: Are there any key elements of the Tonale’s design we’ll see on future Alfa Romeos?

A: “Maybe yes, maybe no… We don’t have a cliché for Alfa Romeo. We can continue, or we can change. We want to continue the diversity of style from our past and maintain this in the future. We can even do something more extreme. We have freedom.”

What will the new Alfa Romeo Tonale have to beat? Check out our list of the best small SUVs right here…

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