I don’t think Jeremy Clarkson was right when he said you can only become a real petrol driver after owning an Alfa Romeo, but the rude TV presenter wasn’t. completely Wrong. I’ve just spent a week with Alpha’s latest creation, unfortunately named Tonale, and it has left me scratching my head. Surrounded by gremlins and not exactly cheap, it nonetheless charmed me in a way I don’t really think it would have if I were driving, say, a Dodge.
Once upon a time, Alfa Romeo was Ferrari before there was really a Ferrari, building grand prix-winning race cars and stunning road cars. That seems like a very long time ago now. The planned revamp, which began while the brand was under the control of the late Sergio Marchionne, fell well short of the original ambitious sales targets – 100,000 Gelea a year, we were told at the time.
But the brand is still there, and it has a completely new model. The Tonale is a smaller crossover than the Stelvio, and here in the U.S. it’s only available with a hybrid powertrain. It combines a 180 hp (135 kW) 1.3-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with a 121 hp (90 kW) electric motor driving the rear wheels, feeding 15.5 kW of power. Lithium-ion battery.
Total combined output is 285 hp (213 kW) and 347 lb-ft (470 Nm), although there’s a 44 hp (33 kW) integrated starter motor that can add some torque to the engine’s crankshaft if the car’s mind thinks it’s necessary. .
There are three driving modes, as there are now with Alfas. Mode A uses the electric motor only, and you should go about 30 miles (49 km) on a full charge. Recharging the battery takes about 2.5 hours when connected to a Level 2 charger, or about seven hours if you only have access to a 120V socket.
D, or dynamic, is where most Alfas feel their best. Not Tonale — that mode keeps the MultiAir four-cylinder engine running at all times, and the 1.3-liter small-block isn’t the most resonant thing in the world. No, confusingly, this Alfa sounded much better in N mode. This mode will start under electric power, feeding into the combustion engine when necessary. It’s a little slower away from a stoplight, but it’s also smoother.
The N (and A as well) also gives you the softer of the two settings for the suspension dampers. You can manually switch to the softer setting once you reach D, and on most American roads you’ll probably want to. Regardless of engine mode, the Tonale provides direct steering that helps mask the car’s 4,133 lb (1,875 kg) curb weight.
Sadly, real-world fuel efficiency fell several mpg below the EPA estimate of 29 mpg (8.11 L/100 km), but we also didn’t start every day with a fully charged traction battery.
I mentioned gremlins earlier, and there were many. Immediately after picking up the Tonale, we had to drive it through a fairly heavy rainstorm, which caused some of the Advanced Driver Assistance System sensors to fail, canceling out forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, which remained unavailable at random times throughout the year . The next three or four days.