Alfa Romeo breaks into electrification with Tonale crossover
Alfa Romeo has stepped into a new era of electrification and technological advance with the launch of its first-ever plug-in hybrid. The all-new Tonale has debuted as a little 272-hp (200-kW) plug-in bulldog that comes loaded with available adaptive damping, a raft of driver-assistance tech and even an NFT certificate that evolves right along with the car.
The Tonale is designed for the breed of young, tech-savvy, adventurous urbanite that seemingly every crossover has eyes on. To catch the ear of that very type of buyer, Alfa has turned to an increasingly popular buzzword: NFT (non-fungible token). The NFT certifies the car upon purchase and evolves as the car ages.
"The technology is based on the 'blockchain card' concept, a confidential and non-modifiable record of the main stages in the life of an individual vehicle," Alfa Romeo explained in the announcement. "With the customer’s consent, the NFT will record vehicle data, generating a certificate that can be used to assure the car has been properly maintained, with a positive impact on its residual value. On the pre-owned car market, NFT certification represents an additional source of credibility for owners or dealers to count on."
Moving on to its more traditional automotive attributes, the Tonale will be offered with two all-wheel-drive powertrain options at launch, one hybrid, one not. The top-of-the-line Q4 AWD PHEV option pairs a front-mounted 1.3-liter turbo four with a rear 90-kW (120-hp) electric motor, 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and six-speed automatic transmission. The two motors will team for up to 272 hp (200 kW). Drivers will manage the powertrain via three selectable modes: all-electric mode for up to 30 miles (49 km) of zero-emissions driving, high-performance dual-power mode for maximum output from both engine and motor, and natural mode, which automatically blends electric and turbo power for typical everyday driving.
Those who opt to skip the plug-in option will be looking at a standard Q4 AWD that bumps the size of the turbo four up to 2.0 liters and the transmission up to a nine-speed automatic on the way to providing 256 hp (191 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque. While the turbo doesn't have the eco cred of a full PHEV, it utilizes engine start-stop technology to meet super-ultra-low emissions 30 (SULEV 30) standards.
Helping those turbo drives do their best work on the asphalt, the independent suspension includes Frequency Selective Damping, upgradable to a Dual Stage Valve active suspension with electronically controlled damping. Alfa Romeo also promises the most direct steering in the segment and improved braking courtesy of a disc system with Brembo calipers.
The Stelvio already proved that Alfa Romeo design language speaks beautifully on an SUV, and the Tonale doesn't trigger any second-guessing. The 178.3-inch-long (453-cm) body is handsome enough, and a little extra curvature in the hood flows nicely into a full-width front-end design with sharp "3+3" LED headlamps flanking a prominent Alfa scudetto shield. In addition to the usual lighting and turn signal functions, the headlamps flash welcome and good bye signals whenever the driver turns the car on and off. The taillights are similarly striking, merging the 3+3 design into a full-width strip of illuminated red.
The Tonale interior feels properly "Alfa" thanks to leather, Alcantara and aluminum. The 10.3-in Uconnect 5 touchscreen and tactile controls are ever-so-slightly angled into a driver-centric position, and the 12.3-in digital instrument panel keeps info bright and center. Tech features include Amazon Alexa home-to-car and car-to-home with natural voice, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging, and Alfa Connect global services with over-the-air updates. Driver-assist features include available Level 2 traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control, intelligent speed assist, blind spot and rear cross path detection, and lane keep assist.
Alfa Romeo will open up ordering in the fourth quarter of 2022, offering the Tonale in three trims: Sprint, Ti and Veloce. Production will take place at Alfa's Giambattista Vico Stellantis plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, Naples, Italy, and the first deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2023.
Source: Alfa Romeo/Stellantis