What happens when a car only enters your eyes?

Well, expectations are not met. Or at least this is what has happened to me after experiencing what has been my first contact with the Alfa Romeo Tonale. And it is that we are facing a car that works well as an SUV, that works well as a technological showcase but what, how Alfa Romeodoes not perform as well as one might expect considering its legacy. Is this a bad thing? No, it’s just something different from what the Italian firm usually offers, but we’re going to find out why.

All these sensations that I have experienced at the controls of the Tonale must be contextualized with what has been its engine, the 160 hp mild-hybrid. A priori, a sufficient mechanics and with more than enough power to face any context, to which we must add the benefits of the DGT for having the ECO label, but is it so in practice?

Alfa Romeo on the outside is, but what about inside?

However, I am not going to start the house from the roof, so allow me to give a few brushstrokes on the design of the Tonale, a section that becomes an important pillar of my conclusions. And it is that we are facing a car that, at least it seems to me, beautiful and that breaks with those aesthetic canons within compact SUVs rather aseptic and lacking in personality.

We find ourselves with a superb binomial between the design so characteristic of Alfa Romeo and clear guidelines of the new language that is coming within the brand. The front is governed by the legendary inverted triangle of the firm, two thin and elongated headlights with LED technology that give the Tonale a very aggressive look and an abrupt defense which ends up emphasizing its character.

The side rises hand in hand with softer lines that are only interrupted by wheels ranging from 17 to 20 inches, housing the already historic five-circle design as an option. The rear sports a solution for the pilots in the form of an attached LED strip, leaving headlights that simulate what would be the lines of a heartbeat on a monitor. That is, the very heart Italian that is so much talked about.

In short: for me the Tonale is, in the aesthetic section, a true Alfa Romeo. His design is elegant, attractive and has personality. Of course, this is something very subjective, as is the fact that the only thing that breaks its harmonious aesthetics for me are some overhangs that are too noticeable that give a certain feeling of disproportion to the whole, something that may be due to using a somewhat old platform.

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The technological freshness that Alfa Romeo needed

Now we go with the second pillar and that in my opinion is also crucial: the interior and technological load of the Alfa Romeo Tonale. For years not only the Alfa Romeo, but any Italian car has had a reputation for disastrous finishes, but the Tonale comes to set the standard in this regard. And it is that the Alfa Romeo SUV offers a well-finished interior, with good adjustments and materials that are pleasant to the touch.

It is not a car that is at the same level as an Audi Q3, for example, but it does come remarkably close by offering a general set above many general SUVs and equating to some premium, such as the Volvo XC40. This is transmitted through a soft-touch dashboard, a center console without creaks and controls that, when actuated, transmit a good fit despite the fact that plastic is the predominant material.

Another section to take into account is the technological load with which the Tonale takes a giant step forward compared to the Giulia and Stelvio which, despite having been recently updated, offered to date a very obsolete set and far from what you find in same price rivals. Be that as it may, the new Alfa Romeo SUV boasts a fluid, intuitive infotainment system connected to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via a 10.25-inch screen that is complemented by… physical controls! Thank you Alfa Romeo for not falling into that hateful fashion of integrating everything on the screen.

Accompanying this we find with a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation. This presents different menus and a fairly high customization, but in general we always have the necessary information and the possibility of accessing it through a more classic design or, on the contrary, something more modern.

The crux of the matter: the Alfa Romeo Tonale does not behave like an Alfa Romeo

But now let’s get to the heart of the matter: the behavior of the Alfa Romeo Tonale. And it is that this has been the reason that the Italian SUV has only entered my eyes despite not being a bad SUV at any time. This conclusion is logically unfounded by the behavior offered by the Giulia and Stelvio, being two of the best cars in their category in that section.

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The Tonale inherits from these a superb direction that is very fast and direct, although it lacks one more point of information to be perfect. This is possible thanks to a ratio of 13.6:1, but it is the only really dynamic thing that this car offers. The suspension is McPherson type on both axes, it picks up the irregularities of the asphalt well, it is not excessively hard and it contains the car’s rolls relatively well.

It does not offer at any time a sporting behavior, but it’s not intended. The optional adaptive suspension may place more emphasis on this aspect, but the one mounted on the Tonale as standard clearly prioritizes ride comfort.

However, the general set leaves a car that behaves like a good compact SUV, leaving sensations very similar to those that can be found in other good products in the segment. And it is precisely for this reason that the fact that the Tonale does not behave like other Alfa Romeo is not bad, since in the end the firm is attacking a segment in which what they want is to make volume of sales, and for this they must satisfy a very wide clientele that is not looking for a dynamic, precise and communicative car, but a comfortable, practical, beautiful, technological car and suitable for any type of situationsomething that is totally laudable.

Now, what about the 160 hp mild-hybrid engine? We are talking about a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. that delivers 160 hp and 240 Nm of torque from the hand of a variable geometry turbo. These figures can only be managed by means of a 7-relation automatic gearbox and double-clutch type that, as an option, can be orchestrated by aluminum paddles with an exquisite touch.

This has a refined and fast behavior, allowing the transitions between gears to be practically imperceptible. In turn, the gearbox together with the engine allow the 0 to 100 to occur in 8.8 seconds and the top speed to be 160 km/h; They are not stratospheric figures but they are very worthy. However, in practice we find ourselves with a propellant somewhat lacking in power in low, leaving a very linear and somewhat bland behavior in general. The car has some oomph and picks up speed, but it feels like a bit of a tedious task for this one.

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Is the Alfa Romeo Tonale really worth it?

The answer to this question really has every potential client. And it is that if we are looking for a compact SUV with personality on an aesthetic level, with a well-finished interior, a good technological load, a more than correct habitability and good behavior, the Alfa Romeo Tonale is your car, especially if we want to flee from the already mythical Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA or Volkswagen Tiguan and opt for something different.

To all this we must add the presence of mild-hybrid, hybrid, PHEV and diesel variants, thus obtaining the Tonale the ECO and CERO labels from the DGT in three of its versions. But if, on the other hand, we are looking for a good combination between sportiness and versatility, the Tonale may not be your car, making more sense in this case its older brother, the Stelvio, or models such as the BMW X3 or X1 in their sportier variants.

Be that as it may, we have to keep in mind that the Alfa Romeo Tonale lands in Spain with a starting price of 36,400 euros, a figure that amounts to 46,550 euros if you opt for the top-of-the-range finish, the so-called Veloce. They are certainly high amounts, but I think they are justified with a more than worthy set to fight with other premium compact SUVs that move in similar or even higher figures.

About Alicia Peters

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