The Alfa Romeo Tonale – a Pass with Advisories

Alfa Romeo’s latest last chance has arrived.

Image: Stellantis Media

The arrival of a new mass-market Alfa Romeo is always an important event, and the Tonale CUV arrives with heavy responsibilities upon its evocatively styled shoulders. Nearly three years have passed since the Tonale Concept showed its SZ-inspired face at the last Geneva Salon of the decade. I had been deeply impressed by Fiat’s Centoventi concept, unveiled at the same venue, but the Tonale seemed like a needless distraction; no certainty of production in the post-Marchionne paralysis, very little technical information other than that it would be electric, or at least electrified. The video presentation was fabulously impressive, the red show car rather less convincing.

2019 Tonale Concept. Image: autovia-media

My comment on DTW at the time was: “The designers use the Alfa ‘vocabulary’ of detailing with impressive articulacy, but it’s lipstick on plump, old-style small SUV proportions. VW Group, Opel, PSA, and even Ssangyong have used clever devices such as ‘floating’ roofs and side scalloping to reduce the apparent height and narrowness of their latest generation of SUVs. Strip away the wallpaper, and the Tonale’s more 2009 than 2019.”

Jean-Philippe Imparato presents. Image: Automotive News Europe

Moving along (virtually) to 8th February 2022 and the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese. Under cover of darkness, two racing drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou, arrive in a sleek, high-end Giulia.  Our genial host is Jean-Philippe Imparato, Alfa Romeo Brand CEO since January 2021. A theme of the presentation is the Alfa Tribe(1), from the F1 drivers, the engineers and designers, to the line workers at the renamed Stellantis Pomigliano plant, where Tonale production will commence on 4th June 2022.

Despite having spent his entire pre-Stellantis career with Peugeot, Imparato, a native of l’Hérault, has impressive Alfa Tribe credentials, proudly describing himself as “Alfa Romeo by birth.” His parents were dedicated Alfisti, the first family car of his childhood was a Tipo 105 Giulia, replaced by an Alfetta, and his wife’s first car was an Alfasud.

It has to be said the Imparato brought his irrepressible and infectious enthusiasm to the Tonale’s presentation, despite the design having been frozen prior to his involvement. Likewise, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, Alfa design chief since June 2021, who was happy to give fulsome praise for the “Essential Beauty” of the work of the Tonale’s designers under his predecessor, Klaus Busse. I wonder what he really thinks of the Tonale: he is credited with the design of the Cupra Formentor, possibly Volkswagen Group’s best-ever ‘Spanish Alfa Romeo’.

Image: Stellantis Media

And so to the first model of the “new Alfa Romeo era.” The clue was in the clumsily multilingual presentation title ‘La Metamorfosi begins’. Yet another one? It’s not even seven years since the last commenced with the introduction of the Tipo 952 Giulia.

Just below the surface of the Tonale, there is plenty of evidence that the new Alfa Romeo era is actually a return to the pre-Giorgio(2) days, which started with the 155, built on the Fiat Group Type Three platform and continued with the 2008 MiTo and 2010 Giulietta(3). The formula has been revived for the Tonale, with upgraded FCA Group platforms and powertrains, with Alfa-specific versions of group engines.

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Aesthetics are something I usually leave to those at DTW better versed in the principles and argot of automotive design. I’ll briefly observe that production reality has coarsened the Tonale in comparison with the 2019 concept. The nose has been softened, possibly to comply with pedestrian protection regulations, so losing some of its affinity with Robert Opron’s brutal 1989 Mostro, better known as the SZ coupé. The flush door handles, with the rear pair elegantly concealed, have gone, replaced with a conventional arrangement similar to those used on the Stelvio.

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Whereas the concept was a strict four-seater, so a CUV-coupe in character, the production car has three second-row places, to ensure it can compete on functional terms with its Qashqai-Class rivals.

It’s all gone a bit Qashqai. Image: Stellantis Media

Key Tonale dimensions are a 2,633mm wheelbase, 4,530mm overall length, 1,840mm width and 1,600 mm height. All are within millimetres of the mighty ‘qai, apart from the Tonale’s 105mm greater length, a bold departure which I hope has been put to good use.

Now, here’s a strange thing. Almost by accident, I found myself comparing the Tonale with the 2008 MiTo. Take a look at the A-pillar, mirror sail panel, bonnet, front wing and door shutline shapes and relationships. And then there’s the extraordinarily similar side DLO. Did someone dig out some old CAD files, or could there be an earlier design, now fashionably topped and tailed, at the core of the Tonale?

Images: Stellantis Media

We are told that the unifying theme of the Tonale’s styling is something titled the GT-Line(4), inspired by several revered historic Alfas, most particularly Giugiaro’s GT Junior. This is a side-elevation feature line describing the waistline from the headlights to a tapering tail which, we are told,“defines attitude.” I will leave the reader to judge how effective this is on the production Tonale.

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Should styling be such a concern?  Between the front and back ends’ successful evocation of Alfa-ness there’s a core which already looks dated. Not before time, avant-garde style and marque individuality have arrived within the CUV segment and others, particularly those not carrying the baggage of marque tradition, are doing the ‘CUV-with-attitude’ rather better than Alfa Romeo has managed here.

Image: Stellantis Media

According to reports from those who have seen pre-production Tonales, the interior story is a more positive one: it is rather self-consciously designer label-ish, but of visibly better quality than current Giulias and Stelvios.  Another pleasing presentational matter is the use of traditional Alfa status signifiers; Super, Sprint, Ti and Veloce  The first batch of production Tonales will all be in Edizione Speciale specification.  Did they get that idea from Nissan?

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At the presentation, much was made of the Tonale’s technology. This used to mean engines, gearboxes and suspension. Now it refers to infotainment, connectivity, driver assistance, and autonomous driving functions. After all, Imparato has told us that Stellantis’s mission is to be “a sustainable mobility technology company”. Isn’t that everybody’s mission these days?

We are told that the Tonale is the most technologically advanced car ever to carry the Biscione and is “the ultimate software machine”(5). At the moment, it certainly looks to be ahead of the C-segment crossover field, with the added attraction of some idiosyncratic Alfa flair, such as the Cannocchiale (telescope) instrument panel displays and every Tonale being provided with a unique NFT(6) containing build information and logging mileage, servicing records, and even battery charging history. Another delight is the ability to grant Amazon deliverers access to the luggage compartment, presumably also with the facility to track down the car.

It’s just possible that the more traditional observer of automotive progress at the La Metamorfosi presentation has by now blocked out the talk of unique NFT tokens, Cannocchiale displays and Amazon integration, but would still like to know what’s been done to the platform to create a driving experience which is “the most pleasurable in its category”. They might also wish to know more about how the powertrains have been developed to attain “mechanical nobleness(sic)”. And I for one really, really want to know about the “anti-mistake devices” which are being installed as part of the re-tooling at Pomigliano.

Image: Stellantis Media

I’ll try to answer the first two questions at least:

Despite rumours of a transition to the PSA EMP2 platform, the Tonale turns out to be underpinned by the FCA Small Wide 4×4(7) component set, albeit in a ‘highly evolved’ form, with input from long-time Alfa suppliers Koni and Brembo, the former contributing to a remotely variable damping system controlled by the modern-day Alfa DNA mode selector system. There’s a certain amount of ‘nobleness’ in the rear suspension. No torsion beam here; instead a strut-based three-arm arrangement, with each side having a trailing longitudinal link and a pair of independently acting transverse links.

The powertrain story turns out to be rather interesting, although here, ‘nobleness’ is restricted to unique-to-Alfa upgrades of familiar but mainly recent FCA group engines. The big FireFly (Global Small Engine) news is the arrival of a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder version(8) producing 130 or 160PS, the higher figure being achieved using a variable-geometry turbocharger. As well as forced induction, the 1,496cc engines have direct injection and dual VVT, this last feature facilitating Miller-cycle operation, which works particularly effectively with hybrids.

The accompanying hybrid system is described as ‘mild’, but is a lot more sophisticated and powerful than the low-cost 12V systems which Volkswagen Group and Nissan offer. The Tonale’s has a 48V, 15kW, 55Nm motor driving a Getrag-supplied seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with an impressive repertoire of silent starting, energy recovery, power boosting and electric-only modes. To the disappointment of locomotive footplatemen everywhere, manual gearboxes are not even an option on any Tonale.

The PHEV drivetrain is an evolved version of the system used in the Jeep Renegade and Compass, this time using an Alfa-specific version of the 1,332cc FireFly four producing a prodigious 178bhp.  This engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed torque-converter gearbox, while a 121bhp electric traction motor drives the back pair, with a maximum combined output of 271bhp in all-wheel-drive mode, Q4 in Alfa-speak. Alfa Romeo claims a potential battery-only range of up to 37 miles. To sound a brief note of negativity, this version is reported to weigh a Superpesante 1,900kg.

Some international markets will have the option of a 130bhp Multi-Jet diesel paired with the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Rather more appealing is the 2.0-litre, 275 bhp turbocharged four-cylinder from the Termoli-built Global Medium Engine family, with a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission and a mechanical Q4 AWD system. This is destined only for the USA and Middle East, and some US versions will be downrated to 256bhp and provided with an engine stop-start system to comply with the super-ultra-low emissions 30 (SULEV 30) standard.

Despite suggestions that the powertrains have been rigorously tailored to Alfa Romeo’s needs, they turn out to be drawn entirely from the Fiat / Chrysler / Jeep parts bins, with other applications within the FCA side of Stellantis: there’s even talk of a parallel ‘Dodge Hornet’ for North America.

As for wider Stellantis integration, the Fiat platform and engines HAD to be used.  If the Tonale had been re-worked on a Peugeot platform there would have been too little time left to make the project viable before the true ‘new Alfa Romeo era’, when it becomes a battery-electric only brand after 2027.

So, will the Tonale turn around Alfa’s fortunes? It’s entering a sector which generates huge sales numbers, but also has a multitude of competitors, some of them expertly honed and highly capable. The Tonale is conspicuously and idiosyncratically an Alfa Romeo from every angle inside and out, but the powertrains, chassis, and technology do look to be better than merely class-competitive.

For once, and contrary to the ‘Fiat Charter’, Alfa Romeo is not trumpeting wildly ambitious sales expectations. According to an outside source(9), suppliers have been told to plan for around 60,000 units per year(10). That’s about the same as its Lancia Ypsilon stablemate, an ageing car sold only in Italy. More tellingly, this is only 3,000 fewer than the total number of Giulias, Stelvios, and end-of-days Giuliettas sold in 2020.

Image: Stellantis Media

Price is still the great unknown. Imparato tells us that the Tonale will “make premiumness(sic) inclusive”, which sounds like a trite re-expression of the ‘affordable premium’ mantra of the last decade, the aspiration of every carmaker who knew that they were not actually premium.

According to an interview in Automotive News, Alfa’s CEO envisages the Tonale’s European pricing matching that of the BMW X1, which starts at around £29,000 in the UK, albeit at a much more basic specification level than the Alfa Romeo.  In many key markets, monthly leasing costs will be all that matters.  It is to be hoped that the error of the Giulia is not repeated, where the total cost of buying and owning a challenger product turns out to be far higher than its established premium competitors. If the Tonale succeeds, it will have maintained the credibility of the Biscione for four to five years until the real Metamorfosi arrives, the late-decade(11) transition to the electric era.

 

(1) Does anybody else feel that evoking tribes is a rather tone-deaf marketing pitch, given the widespread rise of nationalistic, ethnic, political and religious divisions in recent times?

(2) The platform on which the Giulia and Stelvio are built.

(3) Hopefully history will judge the MiTo and Giulietta kindly.  They put the Alfa mystique within the reach of far more customers than the Giorgio cars, and had a vastly more favourable sales to investment ratio.  There’s talk of a sub-Tonale CUV in the near future.  Imparato and Mesonero-Romanos are up for it, if Carlos Tavares will bankroll the idea.

(4) Confusingly, also a Kia, Peugeot and Renault equipment level designation.

(5) Where once BMW met the Canterbury Scene?

(6) A non-fungible token, apparently.

(7) The Small Wide 4×4 platform is shared with the Jeep Renegade and Compass, and the Fiat 500X.  It is the largest and most versatile of the ‘Small’ family of platforms which originated with the GM/Fiat SCCS, used for the 2005 Grande Punto, and 2006 Corsa D.

(8)  The lower-powered 1.5 litre FireFly has very recently made its debut in the new Tipo Hybrid.

(9) Automotive News 07/02/2022.

(10) Around one-fifth of the planned numbers for the Alfasud at the same factory 50 years ago, although actual production achieved was around half that capacity.

(11) Jean-Philippe Imparato is on record as saying that he expects that Alfa Romeo will only sell battery-electric vehicles after 2027.  

46 thoughts on “The Alfa Romeo Tonale – a Pass with Advisories”

  1. With only a small sqint of the eye I can see the a relation between Tonale and Opel Mokka X in the cliff like front

    The DLO and rear end also are so similar that it hurts.

    Does this make the Tonale an Opfa or an Alfel?
    Would I buy an alfified Opel which in turn is a Peugeot? Surely not.

    1. Gosh, doesn’t the Mokka make the Tonale look dated?

    2. If the sub-Tonale Alfa CUV happens, I suspect there will be a lot of Mokka underneath.

    3. I find many recent offerings, Mokka included, eye-catching rather than good-looking.

    4. Agreed, Mervyn: it’s not to my taste, but still very ‘on-trend’.

  2. Thanks for this really excellent review and perspective – the best I have read on the Tonale to date. Like you, I find the look very out of date, dumpy and a bit awkward – especially from the front doors forward. The similarities with the MiTo are also well observed, in particular the rear pillar and DLO. The views from head on show a car with a lack of tumble-home and seemingly narrow tracks. so the stance is a bit pigeon-toed and knock-kneed. This car needed the kind of wide-tracked stance which featured on the 159 (where, for a standard saloon, it was over-cooked, if anything). I don’t like the rear light arrangement either – can someone please rid us of the light-bar trend?

    I also note the return to pre-Giorgio days of re-use of FCA components. The engines sound most unpromising in particular – the 130PS engined car is likely to be a slug and the range in general sounds most un-Alfa. The car also seems heavy. The fact that the hardware is more FCA than PSA underlines that is more like end of an era than new dawn for Alfa. The real new dawn will start to arrive around 2025.

  3. Gosh, it looks dated. Ominous whiff of Fiat Tipo at the front. I can only hope it will be cheap and practical enough to compete with the Peugeot 3008 and the similarly priced DS.
    A digital, read-only logbook could be a good thing in principle and many, many data formats would lend themselves well to the task. NFT is not among them.

    Robertas, a couple of typos to correct: Pomagliano -> Pomigliano; Guilia -> Giulia; Cannociale -> Cannocchiale.

    1. Thanks for those corrections, Jeroen. (I blame the editing, which in this case was mine. Doh! 😨)

    2. Thanks Daniel re. the typos. I suspect some other sloppy Italian spelling on my part may have been corrected before the article was published. Daniel was probably run ragged with my edits over the last two days as new facts and corrections emerged from Stellantis Media. For what it’s worth, one that didn’t make it was only announced yesterday; the 500X, as well as the Tipo previously mentioned, will soon be available with the same hybrid powertrain as the 130bhp Tonale.

    3. Jeroen – I see what you mean about the Tipo similarity:

      While I was writing the article, I was trying to conjure up a notion of what a Fiat version of the Tonale would look like, and it’s not difficult with the Tipo as a point of reference. With a 120bhp 1.0 FireFly and manual gearbox such a thing could sell for around £20K.

      Perhaps it’s just not in their nature, but Fiat have never made a direct Qashqai rival, instead offering the rather wacky 500X, supported by the Renegade and Compass. Why not make use of some spare capacity at Pomigliano?

    4. That likeness to the Tipo at the front is quite remarkable – excellent spot!

    5. Good point, Robertas. Especially since the Jeeps are sized primarily for the American market where the Rogue Sport (Qashqai) is a distant also-ran and the darling of the Enterprise lot while buyers are primarily interested in something half a size larger (RAV4/CR-V/Escape/Cherokee) or smaller (Crosstrek/Encore/Renegade).

  4. Good morning Robertas and thanks for a very comprehensive overview on the latest make-or-break* Alfa-Romeo. I do hope it is a dynamically accomplished as Alfa-Romeo claims, because its appearance is s big disappointment for me. The edginess of the Tonale concept has been completely lost in translation to production. The front and rear ends are attractive enough, but the rest is drearily generic and dated, as you point out. It may indeed have “all gone a bit Qashqai”, but its the 2006 original it most closely resembles.

    The comparison to the Cupra Formentor you mention is very telling. Its quite similar in overall form and proportion, but looks much sharper and more dynamic:

    The Tonale is an FCA ‘legacy’ design, so I suppose we’ll have to wait to see where Stellantis takes thd marque. Roll on the next last chance!

    * (C) Alfa Romeo

    1. I’ll admit that the Formentor has grown on me a bit – they look lower and more lithe in the metal than I had expected. There’s a lot going on from every angle , and there are a lot of angles too. Not my thing and I would never buy one, but definitely better than the rather frumpy looking Tonale.

    2. What I find most astonishing about the Formentor – and I’m not terribly enthusiastic about it, generally speaking – is that it doesn’t look like a VAG design. I have no idea how, but Mesonero and De Meo somehow seem to have succeeded at clearing unusually spacious wiggle room within the VAG empire for Cupra. That in itself I’d consider quit some achievement.

    3. I do find the Formentor pleasing to look at (though they’re pretty rare where I live, come to think about it), certainly for an SUV. Then again, VAG rarely gets the blood pumping, so it’s not a high hurdle. And it has proper door handles 😁… The DLO and C pillar share much the same theme, but the Formentor is far better resolved, I think.

      Every time I read about an Italian car’s gestation, I’m surprised they make it to market at all, with (un)predictable results for the consistency of their model policy. I’d like to propose the word for the day that describes this situation in Italian: guazzabuglio. Sounds so much nicer than “mess”.

  5. Many thanks to Robertas for such a detailed and thoughtful piece on the Tonale. It seems a rational if not particularly exciting product, but I may be biased, as I don’t personally have an interest in SUV format vehicles.
    May I just hijack the thread for a moment to mark the death of PJ O’Rourke? I didn’t particularly share his politics (although his commentary in this regard now seems gentle in the light of what has become the norm) but his motoring writing was highly entertaining. “Driving like crazy” genuinely had me laughing out loud.

    1. Regarding P J, indeed you can. I’ve got pretty much his entire oeuvre since “Republican Party Reptile”, and they’re always entertaining to revisit. Not that I wholly agreed with his politics, but his perspectives on politicians and public servants very much hold true in many European contexts, regardless of political colour. He’s left us at no great age, and will be missed.

    2. Knowing little about him, I was surprised to find out that he wasn’t Irish – surely with a name like that, there must be some Irish blood somewhere ?

  6. But it’s a small/medium Alfa with a full set of “Proper” door handles, that alone is worthy of celebration!

    1. There was a leaked image in 2019 of a pre-production (?) Tonale with a single set of non-flush door handles and it looked awful. They were set far lower than seen on the final car, making a tubby car look even tubbier. Four handles, set higher, definitely improves things a bit.

  7. Truth to be told even the CUVs offered by fellow German brands (GLA, Q3, X1, X2) fall into the ‘not an actual premium’ category. Though personally I don’t see any reason Alfa Romeo should be comparing itself to the Deutsche-trinity – a more realistic benchmark would be the Mazda CX-5, as the Hiroshiman manufacturer pretty much identified itself as the ‘Alfa Romeo of the East’ in the past two decades.
    Besides – I was doing a thought experiment about the Fiat-parts thing: older people who may know the marque well or even label themselves as ‘Alfisti’ usually treat this as a warning sign, but how would younger generations without prejudicies towards Alfa react to this fact? I mean there is a whole new generation that has grown up since the Fiat merger, for them it is normal that they share the same platforms. As was often discussed about the MiTo – it’s clearly not a car for Alfa enthusiasts, therefore it must sell well and be a good investment for the shareholders. It really seems to be us – enthusiasts – that overthink the importance of parts and development, whereas in the 21st century the less funding a project it gets the better the end results will be, simply because it doesn’t differs too much from the customer’s taste.

  8. It’s an Alfa, which should be good. It’s also another SUV and one that looks like it’s been on the market for a couple of years. That is in itself maybe not so bad, since a lot of cars tend to look worse with each next generation, but it’s not something to exited about either and that’s a pity.

  9. Thank you for this excellent and exhaustive meditation, Robertas. Like Richard, I noticed the door handles. I’d have expected Daniel to sound off about then…

    I’m afraid the (already) rumoured facelift of the Giulia and particularly the Stelvio with a variation of the Tonale’s front and back end will only serve to highlight the shortcomings of the design that you highlight. The middle bit is essentially a shrunken Stelvio. Especially in view of your comparison with the MiTo, it becomes painfully obvious that Alfa’s design language doesn’t seem to have progressed very much.

    If the dealer situation remains the same, that won’t bode well for the Tonale either. More hopeful is that under Stellantis the plans and projected sales figures seem a lot more realistic. If there is indeed as much of a change coming as Stellantis asserts, then treading water is about as much as the Tonale needs to do.

    Sharing platforms is inevitable and, given the shortsightedness of the Giorgio platform’s development (electrification was a new but known quantity in the 2010’s), maybe just as well. I trust PSA more with platform sharing than the Fiat Group so who knows.

    It’s not a stunner, it’s probably not a marque saver, but maybe it doesn’t need to be. That’s damming with faint praise of course, but given Alfa’s track record over the last thirty years at least, any praise is a win.

    1. Ah Tom, you know my little peccadilloes too well! I’ll give the Tonale two cheers for having ‘proper’ door handles, but will reserve the third cheer until / unless I can check the handle’s tactile quality.

      Our Mini has very nice looking chrome handles which are, disappointingly, slightly ‘wobbly’ in use when pulled out. Earlier Minis had a similar looking but nicer arrangement, with fixed chrome handles behind which was a trigger release.

  10. I chose to avoid the dealer network and service support issues in the main narrative, but in all DTW discussions they quickly come to the fore as a major impediment to Alfa’s progress. With the level of electro-mechanical complexity in the Tonale it’s even more of a worry.

    From reading of other reports, M. Imparato is well aware of the issues. Presently the nostrum proffered is a five year warranty, extending to eight years and 150,000km cover for hybrid system batteries.

    As far as dealerships go, Carlos Tavares had a bonfire well underway before Stellanis came into being. Hopefully there will be a group-wide solution to the Alfa problem, picking the best businesses and locations from the Opel/Vauxhall, Peugeot, and Citroën networks.

    Perhaps a ’boutique’ approach would work, with suitably located outlets offering Alfa Romeo, Lancia and DS together.

    1. That would probably be the best solution, although the DS boutiques seem to have run out of steam somewhat, much like DS itself. PSA is not above faults (I suspect the electric platform from the – by accounts – quite excellent 500 electric will be ignored in favour of the one underpinning the 208 et al), but they at least seem to grasp the complexities of selling cars beyond shouting all manner of wild plans and projections.

    2. A boutique model would probably be the best solution, although the DS boutiques seem to have run out of steam somewhat, much like DS itself. PSA is not above faults (I suspect the electric platform from the – by accounts – quite excellent 500 electric will be ignored in favour of the one underpinning the 208 et al), but they at least seem to grasp the complexities of selling cars beyond shouting all manner of wild plans and projections.

  11. A pound to a penny that, if it achieves any sort of popularity in the UK, this will be known as the Toenail.

  12. These crossovers really aren’t my kind of thing, but it looks competently done. I guess it would make my short list if I was looking to lease one of these.

    The Tonale is profiled in the current issue of CAR Magazine, along with interviews with Imparato and Mesonero-Romanos. There’s a new team in charge at Alfa Romeo, and they come across as lean, focused, and enthusiastic. These qualities might get them far.

    Alongside the forthcoming electric Alfas, all based on STLA bits and pieces, I wonder if they will do more with the Gorgio platform – maybe, even, a 2 door GTV? That would be welcome.

  13. I fear Tonale opens the final book of a story called Alfa Romeo. It does not look like a „must have“, as nearly all of the previous comments indicate it is a mediocre designed car entering too late in the market. 5 years ago: trend setter, 2022: me too.
    Lancia started to leave with Thesis, Alfa Romeo follows with Tonale.

  14. I think it’s lovely – a smooth, yet characterful shape and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in the metal. I’ve seen it in some lovely colours, which helps. I just hope the dealers don’t spoil it all.

  15. Regarding the ‘Dodge Hornet’ mentioned in passing, the Tonale launch has started quite a bit of discussion in the USA about how it relates to the Alfa crossover, with the likelihood that they will be very closely related, and the Dodge will be introduced as a 2023 model, built only at Stellantis Pomigliano.

    This image of a not quite-Tonale appeared in a 2021 Chrysler “EV Day” presentation:

    Various renderings are appearing, including this one from Mopar Insider:

    The interest is mainly centring on the PHEV powertrain, but it might be expected that the non-hybrid 4WD GME 2.0 version would also be offered as an uncompromising high-performance option, in the best Dodge tradition.

    Making the Tonale and Hornet at Pomigliano makes sense in numbers terms – that 60,000 units per year projection for the Tonale is not much above ‘why bother ?’ levels. There’s also a parallel with the BU Renegade, supplied from Italy, with no NAFTA bloc manufacturing base.

    The other potential gain is that the Hornet could have a longer production life than the Tonale, providing better returns on FCA and Stellantis’s investment, particularly in the powertrains.

    1. No way they ought to call this mess a Hornet. That’s a name which deserves much better.

      Anyway, it is doubtful these will sell in large enough numbers no matter what is done with them. Electrification merely makes them more expensive than pure ICE models. Who is going to have the ability to purchase, let alone maintain them? Seriously, take a look at the average person’s finances. Notice any trends lately? It’s everywhere. Or at least everywhere you look throughout the West.

      On another matter, I was listening to a friend in Ukraine. He drives a GAZ. He reckoned he’d done set his alarm so he would be up and out of bed in time for the Russian invasion this morning. Wonder who recommended he do that. “Look!”, he cried, “I can see a tank.” Then he paused and went, “….no, guess not, it’s an ice cream van.” Perhaps he was mistaken and it was a bus after all.

    2. I don’t think the “Hornet” in front three-quarter view is anything other than a speculative rendering. The ghosted image above it looks like a Groupe Peugeot platform – EMP1 or EMP2. Definitely nothing like the Fiat Small Wide 4×4.

      There is a worrying lesson from recent history, in the failure of the Giulietta 940-derived Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, and described as follows by Sergio Marchionne at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show:

      “I can tell you right now that both the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, as great products as they were, were the least financially rewarding enterprises that we’ve carried out inside FCA in the last eight years. I don’t know one investment that was as bad as these two were.”

      In the Hornet’s favour is that it’s closer to the Jeep Renegade formula, with the same component set, and no US manufacturing base.

  16. Dr. Doolittle contemplates FCA’s powertrain concept for a PHEV Jeep, also an Alfa Romeo.

  17. I’m arriving late to the comments section, just to say that the Tonale is late to the party.

    And the new Mazda CX-50, from the so-called “Alfa Romeo of the East”, made the Italian look even more dated.

  18. There is another courious thing with the naming „Tonale“ in german language countries:

    A mans first Name „Anton“ is abbreviated: „Toni“. A young boy „Toni“ in some areas is called „Tonerle“, pronounciation:
    „Tonale“.

    Nobody here in Austria and even most of people in Germany will never ever associate „Tonale“ with an passo italiano.

    Sorry, but I fear definitively that Tonale will be last of the line, not because of its naming but because of its design ,similar to Thesis who was the begin of the end of Lancia

  19. …..also that name. They’re just asking for it. Begging for it really.

    This is reminiscent of some earlier fun. Who could forget such harmlessness as ToyPet or Bongo? They, at least, were humorous. Not so much the blunder of Vega. What a name. Rolls Royce very nearly made a serious mistake of this nature. At one point they thought to use the name Silver Mist. Luckily someone realised and prevented the misstep. Then there was the infamous Pajero! [Imagine the fellow who thought that one up. Wonder where he is now.]

    So here we go again. This time with what people are already referring to as the “Toenail”. Surely this was foreseeable?

  20. I’ve been watching the protracted gestation of the Tonale with some trepidation. Even as a concept I found it somewhat top-heavy, especially at the rear. Alfa seems trapped by their attempts to translate “classic” styling to their SUVs. It just isn’t working (a la the original Cayenne), though I must concede the Stelvio is one of the better-looking of its ilk.
    A big factor in the woeful lack of original styling nowadays may be the demise of most of the Italian styling houses. The last beautiful Alfa was Giugiaro’s Brera (I’ve sat in the concept and own the somewhat dumpier but still eye-catching production version). I’ve also seen Italdesign’s Maserati Kubang prototype, now almost 20 years old. While not perfect it did at least have some proportions right, such as appropriately-sized (for an SUV) head- and tail-lamps, and some rather elegant detailing around the rear hatch for example. It really is rather sad that Seat (Cupra) and Mazda can “out-style” Alfa.
    Will Alfa Romeo be daring enough to embrace the “edgy” styling of other brands in the Stellantis stable – e.g. the new Mokka and Peugeot 2008? Or will that result in the loss of the last bit of uniqueness, being the Alfa “identity”? It’s quite a dilemma for them I am sure. But something has to be done, and soon. Perhaps they will finally cast off the shackles of the past when they step into the brave new(ish) world of electrification…

  21. In folk culture we have the phrase “the boy who cried wolf”. Among the automotive press, the corresponding phrase is “the hack who cried Alfa´s last chance”. For more than half of my life, the “Alfa´s last chance” or “Alfa´s return to form” has been a recurring headline. In the meantime Skoda is now a totally credible brand like Ford or Mercedes and Kia and Hyundai charge the going rate for credible, desirable cars and Tesla emerged from a maker of electrified Elises to purveyor of premium cars. The only “mystery” is why 25 years of comebacks have left Alfa still at the back of the pack. Of course it´s possible to revive an ill brand (Peugeot were in a terrible way in the early 80s, don´t forget) and Skoda was very poorly regarded. The reasons lie somewhere inside Italian automotive management culture.
    I really don´t have any feelings for Alfa now. I don´t supppose many people under 35 give a care. They´d rather buy today´s Alfa Rome which would be a Tesla or electric Hyundai or Mustang Mach-E.

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