Lake Orion, Michigan — If you’re on the hunt for a compact utility vehicle, you’re going to have a few things hitting the top of your wish list. Up until right now, Italian engineering, performance and sheer passion wasn’t on that list. But with the launch of the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale, the first electrified vehicle in brand history, all the changes.
If you’re a fan of modern Italian vehicles, you’re going to like the Tonale. Although the Stellantis automotive conglomerate has had some missteps in the management of the Italian brands under its wing, they’re (almost) a one-stop shop for all sorts of enthusiast cars.
If you’ve got all the money in the world, go directly to the nearest Ferrari dealership and walk away content in the knowledge that you’ve reached something of a pinnacle in life. While the preeminent Italian marque is no longer a part of the former Fiat concern, there’s still some Maranello engineering that’s trickling down the Stellantis line.
If your bank balance doesn’t support a Ferrari purchase, head directly to the nearest Maserati showroom. If you’re a bit light in the wallet for a Maserati, consider an Alfa Romeo. If an Alfa doesn’t fill the bill, check out what Fiat has going on. There’s literally a desirable Italian car at almost every purchase point.
The latest desirable Italian car in the $45K to $55K range is the Alfa Romeo Tonale and, especially the Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) version. It’s desirable because it’s not a car at all—it’s a compact utility vehicle that offers the expected (efficiency) and the unexpected (sports car dynamics). Here are the details.
The powertrain consists of a 1.3-lite 4-cylinder gas engine linked to a 90-kW electric motor. The 4-cylinder drives the front wheels, while the motor drives the back wheels, creating a full-time all-wheel drive system. Combined output for the powertrain lands at 285 horsepower and close to 347 pound-feet of torque. The numbers enable the Tonale PHEV to hit 100 km/h in a reported 6.2 seconds and drive solely on electric power for roughly 50 km.
The varying types of performance are triggered by the DNA selector—familiar from the Giulia and Stelvio—and its four different drive modes. Straight-line performance and all-electric range may be the highlights of the Tonale, but they don’t tell the full story.
The Alfa also features a nimble chassis with 52% of the weight at the front and 48% at the back. The AWD system is augmented by torque vectoring and an electronic limited slip rear differential. The braking system is brake-by-wire and also features, in the Veloce package, Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers. The brake response and overall feel is strong.
Another feature of the Veloce package is an adaptive suspension that makes this compact utility ride like a much bigger vehicle—it’s truly composed and comfortable, even when powering down undulating roads at speed.
Inside, the high-performance theme continues with a racy passenger cabin, particularly with the Veloce package. The base Tonale features a flat-bottomed steering wheel, the start/stop button placed on the wheel and a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. The Veloce package adds paddle shifters, aluminum pedals and door sills, and Alcantara trimmed seats, dashboard and armrest.
The design inside is evocative of the more expensive brands in the Stellantis line-up mentioned above. In fact, the passenger cabin of the Tonale PHEV is remarkably similar to that of the much more expensive Maserati Grecale Trofeo.
On the outside, though, the unique Alfa Romeo design aesthetic shines through: the interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo front grille with shield element, the unique LED headlight and taillight signatures, the aggressive hood. It all works—and it sets the Tonale apart from the crowd.
Elsewhere in this story, there was mention of another version of the Tonale, which is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder. This model is less expensive, of course, but the hybrid is the version that truly balances efficiency and ultimate performance in an inspired way. Fans of the Italian approach to enthusiast cars will find a lot to love here.
The 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV starts at $54,995 and the Veloce package adds $2,500 to that total. Depending on where you live, the PHEV purchaser will receive at least $5,000 back in rebates; purchasers in Quebec and British Columbia will benefit even more.