I test drive the Alfa Romeo Tonale and this self-charging hybrid is no e-volution

NOT so long ago the only green bit on an Alfa was the four-leaf clover. Which meant speed.

But times are changing.

Alfa Romeo is pushing to go all-electric by 2027 and the hybrid Tonale (pronounced like finale) is the first step in that direction.

This 160hp self-charging hybrid — no cable needed — is the only power unit available until we see the 275hp plug-in hybrid, cable required, in December.

Intelligently using its electric motor to silently e-launch and e-creep to e-queue before either harvesting energy while e-coasting at speed or deploying an e-boost of torque for a twist of pace before you e-park, it’s fair to say Alfa’s engineers have been e-busy.

The only thing that’s slightly e-noying is the occasionally unflattering tone of the engine when you give it some revs but, to be fair, that’s not an exclusive problem in the world of four-cylinder hybrid powertrains.

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Ride comfort, even on 19in alloys, is fine and steering is positive but the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox can prove indecisive and hesitant at times if not in dynamic mode.

Understeer and body roll is minimal, however, which gives the Tonale enough Alfa-feel to be part of the family.

But these, of course, are not historical Alfa problems.

Residuals and reliability, on the other hand, have been.

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As the first car to feature NFT technology it records every battery charge, individual trip and any fix the car will ever have and should, in theory, improve confidence and clarity come resale time.

Inside is a familiar Alfa affair where there are some cheaper plastic moments to be found here and there, but for the most part, the neatly-stitched soft-touch textiles and funky atmospheric backlit glow of the dash fascia will please.

The distinctive dual-hooded binnacle display and cracking new centrally-mounted 10in touchscreen surpass expectation — and if you don’t agree, you can always ask Alexa, as she’s built-in, too.

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Wireless charging as well as USB and USB-C ports front and back will keep everyone connected in the roomy cabin with plenty of head space and 500 litres of luggage capacity to boot.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is no e-volution to the premium compact SUV sector but it is an undoubtedly desirable addition to a list of already popular alternatives.


Price: £35,000 (est)

Engine: 1.5litre turbo petrol hybrid

Power: 160hp, 240Nm

0-62mph: 8.8secs

Top speed: 130mph

Economy: 44mpg

CO2: 144g/km

Out: July

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