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Alfa Romeo Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4

TONALE WITH EXTRA SPARK (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

Alfa Romeo's Tonale SUV delivers Plug-in with passion. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 129

So here we are at the beginning of a new electrified Alfa Romeo era. Which is quite a turnaround given that as recently as the start of 2022, the brand couldn't even offer you a Hybrid, let alone an EV. This car, the Tonale, is a Hybrid - in this case of the Plug-in kind. And it's also an SUV - of the smaller sort, which Alfa reckons will almost treble the proportion of UK buyers who might consider the brand. But what kind of brand now is this? Even if you're prepared to stretch 'Alfisti' values to embrace the idea of a fashion-led electrified small Crossover, you might baulk at the idea of it being based on the engineering of a clunky Jeep Compass, as this one is.

Backgroundword count: 118

We're told that the Tonale crossover is heart and soul Alfa from the ground up, building on the Milanese maker's DNA of sportiness that stretches all the way back to 1910. That's not quite true, but the Tonale does bring a dash of latin colour to the segment for posh premium small SUVs and represents the very beginning of Alfa Romeo's forthcoming journey into electrification, with drivetrains that are of both the mild or, as in this case, the Plug-in Hybrid sort. That delivers up to 37 miles of EV driving in a car that lacks the Teutonic perfection of some competitors, but you're compensated with enough pavement presence to make key German rivals look very dull indeed.

Driving Experienceword count: 359

In years gone by, the alternative to the standard 1.5-litre petrol Hybrid motor in this Tonale would have been one of Alfa's eager Fiat-sourced diesels, but those days are long gone - for our market at least. So we get an expensive petrol Plug-in Hybrid instead, a drivetrain borrowed from the Jeep Compass but embellished with a bit of extra power - a total of 275hp in this case. That Jeep derivation is actually welcome because it means that the system includes four wheel drive: with the exception of BMW's X1 Plug-in and a couple of ridiculously priced JLR Plug-in products in this segment, all this Alfa's other PHEV Crossover class rivals are merely front-driven. As is often the case with this kind of powertrain, the engine part of the equation is based on pretty aging tech - in this case a 1.3-litre Fiat MultiAir petrol unit originally developed for turn-of-the-century Fiat Punto and Tipo hatches that now lie rusting in junkyards. The rest of it's pretty clever though. This powerplant supplies 177hp to drive the front wheels and is aided only when necessary by a 121hp electric motor mounted on the rear axle, creating a very different kind of 4WD system to that we've seen on previous 'Q4'-badged Alfas, but nevertheless one that can provide instantaneous deployment of 100 per cent of available torque to either axle. That electric motor is powered by a 15.5kWh battery pack with a WLTP-rated driving range when fully charged of 37 miles. The Tonale's Plug-in's 128mph top speed is slightly lower than the base model, but the rest to 62mph time looks usefully more rapid at 6.2s, though in practice, the car never actually feels quite that fast, hindered by a lack of low speed torque and the somewhat lethargic responses of the 6-speed auto gearbox you have to have. This is one of those transmissions that flares the revs wildly as soon as you ask it to do anything out of the ordinary, so you quickly learn gentle applications of your right foot and with that approach, the Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4 feels quite a pleasant companion in day-to-day suburban duties.

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£45,995.00 (At 13 Feb 2023)

£48,495.00 (At 13 Feb 2023)

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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
To access the full content library please contact us on 0330 0020 227 or click here

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