Read Caroline’s Alfa Romeo Tonale mild hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying the petrol Tonale in Ireland in 2024.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale was one of the most anticipated new cars to arrive in Ireland in 2023. Alfa’s new compact SUV is dripping in Italian style to take on established rivals like the BMW X1, Volvo XC40 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

In Ireland the Tonale is available with a 1.5 petrol engine with mild hybrid technology or as a more powerful plug-in hybrid with a petrol engine and battery on board allowing a small bit of electric driving.

The range starts at €49,995 for the Tonale mild hybrid and from €53,495 for the Tonale plug-in hybrid.

If you’re looking at the Tonale line-up and not quite sure whether to go for the plug-in hybrid or the mild hybrid, you might find this review interesting.

Let’s take a closer look!

The Alfa Romeo Tonale on test for Changing Lanes
The Alfa Romeo Tonale on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The Tonale is a gorgeous compact SUV available in a range of lovely colours like Montreal Green, Misano Blue, Vesuvio Grey and Alfa White, just like the model on test for Changing Lanes. Compared to its rivals, the Tonale looks far more chic. At the front, the dramatic V-shaped Alfa grille gives this car unrivalled presence, framed by very expressive matrix LED headlights. There are two trim levels available for the mild hybrid, Ti and Veloce, but both models get a classic Alfa telephone-dial style alloy wheel. Ti models sit on 18-inch alloys, while the Veloce models are upgraded to a 19-inch design and stand out with red brake calipers. The contrasting black door mirrors with Italian flag detail and sills add more gloss and glam to the Tonale. There is a nice lighting signature in the rear lights and T-O-N-A-L-E spelt out in elegant script.

Interior

The cabin is snug and sporty, and feels more glamourous and driver-focused than most of its rivals. There is a gorgeous Alfa sport leather steering wheel with an integrated start/stop button. Veloce models add glorious aluminium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The centre console is quite high and features yet another Italian flag in case you might forget you’re behind the wheel of an Alfa. To keep the contemporary vibe, there is a full digital instrument cluster with a few different views and a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has lots of functionality but the icons are quite small and it doesn’t feel as slick overall as what you might find in an X1 or a GLA.

The cabin of the new Alfa Romeo Tonale
The cabin of the new Alfa Romeo Tonale

Quality is generally good though there are a few harder plastics that let the side down a little. But there is plenty of soft padding in the dash to lend a premium feel and some gorgeous seat upholsteries including Alcantara with red stitching or full leather, with the Alfa logo embossed in the headrests.

Standard features include electric lumbar support for the driver, reversing camera, parking sensors, wireless smartphone charging, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and lots more standard safety equipment. Premium features like heated front seats, heated steering wheel and power adjustable seats are available as part of a pack.

Practicality

A powered tailgate comes as standard. The mild hybrid is the best for boot space with a generous 500 litres. The plug-in hybrid musters a more mediocre 385 litres.

The Tonale feels well-sized in the back for a car of this class and will seat two adults or a few children in comfort.

The Tonale is Alfa's bestselling model in Ireland
The Tonale is Alfa’s bestselling model in Ireland

Engine

The Tonale mild hybrid uses a 1.5-litre, four cylinder petrol engine that produces 160hp. This model is front wheel drive only and comes with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. There’s also a 20hp electric motor that improves the efficiency of this model by seamlessly allowing some electric assistance when starting off, parking or when cruising on the motorway. It’s not quite a car as powerful overall as the 280hp, four wheel drive Tonale plug-in hybrid, but the relative simplicity of it suits the Tonale and the fuel consumption is decent with 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres achieved during my test drive. The official consumption figure is 6 litres per 100 kilometres (WLTP). Motor tax is €210 per year.

Driving

The Tonale is lovely to drive with excellent handling. It has a sophisticated suspension that was co-developed with Marelli, a historic technical partner of Alfa Romeo. Veloce models add adaptive dampers, which allow you to adjust the firmness of the suspension but generally the Tonale rides very well for a sporty premium compact SUV. There’s also the DNA driving mode selector standard across the range, which also adds some character to the drive. The Dynamic mode is by far the best as it adds weight to the steering and makes the engine response livlier too. There’s also a self-locking differential that reduces understeer and improves stability of the front wheel drive Tonale in cornering.

The mild hybrid offers decent performance with 0-100km/h completed in 8.8 seconds though it’s fair to say if power is really something important to you, the plug-in hybrid does feel more like a classic Alfa in this way. Yet the mild hybrid offers good refinement overall with no caveats around charging to get the best efficiency from it. The only real issue is quite a lot of road noise coming into the cabin.

Rear seating in the new Tonale
Rear seating in the new Tonale

Pricing

The Tonale mild hybrid is available from €49,995 for the Ti and from €53,495 for the Veloce. The plug-in hybrid range starts from €53,495.

Verdict

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is the start of a revival of the famous Italian car brand. The Tonale is one of the brand’s most relevant and competitive models on sale and a real alternative to rivals, which all seem a bit vanilla really by comparison once you’ve spend some time behind the wheel of the Tonale. It looks great and feels great from behind the wheel, while it’s pretty practical too – particularly as a mild hybrid. In fact, this engine seems to be a sensible one for the Tonale and is easy to live with while still offering good fuel efficiency and it’s still a great handling car.

The Alfa range is set to be bolstered even further in 2024 with the arrival of the new Milano compact crossover. But for now the Tonale has become the brand’s bestselling model in Ireland and is helping to grow the brand here – and rightly so.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is chic and fun to drive
The Alfa Romeo Tonale is chic and fun to drive