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Juliet McGuire

Alfa hits the Tonale on the head

Alfa Romeo Tonale

The Alfa Romeo Tonale has arrived in South Africa and I got to take it for a spin this week. Now, I am just going to address the elephant in the room. The name! If you say it with an Italian accent, it can sound rather sexy. If you say it with a true South Africa accent, well, it does not evoke any sexy undertones whatsoever. And to be frank, you could read it as ‘toenail.’ So my suggestion is, say it like the Italians do, but drop the accent if you’re not actually Italian otherwise you sound silly. So, “Toe” Naa” Leh.”

WHAT IS THE TONALE

Now that we have that sorted out, what is this beautiful beast? It is an SUV from the Italian marque that sits below the Stelvio. Oh, I’ve just remembered the last Alfa Rome review I did. It was Stelvio. This Tonale will compete with the Volvo XC40, BMW X1, and Audi Q3 to name a few. But what none of those models have, is the rich Alfa Romeo history this Tonale carries.

Alfa Romeo is 113 years old next year and it’s hard to talk about this brand without looking back. And so you see a lot of this rich history in the DNA of the Tonale, especially that of the GT-Line elements taken from the 8C Competizione. You’ll notice the 3+3 style at the front and the rear, which evokes the look of the SZ Zagato or the Proteo concept car. Overall, it is unmistakably Alfa.

The interior draws on Alfa’s racing history with touches like the Stop/Start button being located on the steering wheel. The cabin is a comfortable place to be, it is all quite familiar inside. There is a range of new fabrics on offer and the Tonale boasts level two autonomous driving. There are three specifications to choose from, the Ti, the Speciale and the Veloce. There are also six colours to choose from including a very different, but sort of cool, Montreal Green. Standard features are, of course aplenty.

Alfa Romeo Tonale

IT’S NO SPORTS CAR

By looking at it, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Tonale is a sports SUV. And as much as it handles beautifully, it is by no means a performance car. The 1.5-litre turbopetrol engine puts out average figures of 118 kW and 240 Nm. It is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. There is a small battery pack and a 48-volt electric motor thrown in, this offers 15 kW and 55 Nm. If you are not in Dynamic mode, it is not exactly quick off the mark, so if it is a more responsive throttle you’re after, best you leave it out of everyday mode or “Advanced Efficiency” mode. It will be a toss up between performance and fuel efficiency. The claimed figure of 5.7l/100 km is a bit far off. You’d need to driving Miss Daisy to achieve this, you are more likely to sit between 8l-10l/100 km (especially if you’re in Dynamic).

LOYAL TO THE BONE

Loyalists will truly appreciate this offering from Alfa. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to the legacy of this brand. It’s a head turner and if you look at the competition at this point, I would maybe go as far as to say it is one of the best-looking. Its dynamic handling might also be unmatched, even if the performance is a bit underwhelming. Either way, I am just so thrilled to be driving Alfa products again.

PRICING OF THE TONALE

  • Alfa Romeo Tonale Ti: R739 900
  • Alfa Romeo Tonale Speciale: R799 900           
  • Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: R819 900

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