Belfast Telegraph

Home Cars

Alfa Romeo drops a mid-sized hybrid SUV … and steals the show at Geneva (so far, anyway)

By Paul Connolly

Alfa Romeo has used the Geneva Motor Show to unveil a new mid-size SUV, complete with plug-in hybrid technology.

The sleek-looking Tonale will sit below the Stelvio SUV in Alfa’s model range and is the company’s first PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle).

The car was revealed as a concept, both in publicly-released images but also in the metal on the stand in Geneva.

It drew crowds and also looks so advanced that the odds of it appearing on forecourts in the next year or two would appear very high.

As with the Stelvio, the Tonale’s name comes from a mountain pass in northern Italy.

At 1,883-metres, the Tonale pass is lower than the Stelvio pass, which would correspond with the size differentiation between the models.

If Alfa Romeo introduces a smaller crossover SUV, expect it, therefore, to be named after a mountain pass lower than the Tonale.

The Tonale enters a competitive segment, with rivals like the VW Golf-based T-Roc, Seat Ateca, Audi Q3 and Nissan Qashqai to contend with.

The car will use the same platform as group sister the Jeep Renegade and would likely source engines from existing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group cars like the Fiat 500X. It is might be unlikely all engines will be hybrid, but time will tell.

The manufacturer says the Tonale’s design recalls a number of “time-honoured design elements that are synonymous with the rich history” of the brand, with an execution that excites a modern approach to the new Alfa Romeo anatomy.

An element that echoes the tradition of the Alfa Romeo DNA are the 21-inch telephone dial wheels with exclusive Pirelli tyres, echoing the look of the iconic Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, a 1960s mid-engined sports car.

The front end has the usual the Alfa Romeo signature “Trilobo” badge and the distinctive “Scudetto” grille, complemented by “3 plus 3” headlights that evoke earlier Alfa models like the SZ and Brera.

Alfa says the interior is designed comfortably for 4 passengers with a contrast of rich materials, such as the cold solidity of aluminum combined with the soft and welcoming warmth of the leather and Alcantara.

Inside there are translucent backlit panels, such as the central tunnel, providing the perfect location for the Alfa Romeo DNA drive mode selector.

Alfa says the concept car is equipped with the highest standards of technology to ensure a “connected, comfortable and dynamic” user experience, while keeping the pleasure of a sporty drive at the forefront.

The driver's attention will be focused on a 12.3-inch full digital cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen central head unit.

The Tonale allows the driver to be fully connected to the Alfa Romeo lifestyle and social communities, realised and presented through the new infotainment features, “Alfista” and “Paddock”.

"Alfista” is an immersive Alfa Romeo lifestyle experience, providing a fully connected interface with select Alfa Romeo clubs and community events, such as gatherings, drives and meets. This in-vehicle app allows the driver access to live news and updates about the current happenings of the Alfa Romeo brand.

“Paddock” is the Alfa Romeo Tonale in-vehicle garage and market for real-time viewing and purchasing of the latest interior and exterior performance upgrades and equipment.

The Paddock app also enables the customer to scroll through the latest offerings from the Alfa Romeo merchandise and apparel collection, which can be ordered direct with the touch of the screen, says the manufacturer.

At this stage Alfa Romeo has released little in the way of engine details however it has let it be known that the Tonale will come with an updated version of its D.N.A. drive mode selector.

'Dynamic' mode becomes 'Dual Power' mode, forcing the petrol engine and electric motor to deliver maximum performance. 'Natural' mode maintains a compromise between efficiency and outright power, while 'Advanced Efficiency' mode will morph into 'Advanced E' mode, allowing all-electric running.

With Tonale, the "Dynamic" mode evolves into "Dual Power" mode and guarantees the maximum output from the two engines.

The infotainment touch screen features an E-mozione button, which offers specific throttle settings, sharper braking and more direct steering response.

"Natural" mode, says the manufacturer, continues to maintain the best performance optimisation, and the compromise between using electric and internal combustion engines is managed automatically.  This is said to translate into everyday energy and fuel savings.

The “Advance Efficiency” mode becomes “Advance E” for performance in full electric mode.

No details of effiency or emissions have been released, and there is no word on price or spec yet. We’d expect the car to be in showrooms at some stage in 2020.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph