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2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce review (video)

It’s a vehicle that promises a fusion of Italian flair, hybrid efficiency, and a dash of SUV practicality. The 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale has arrived in Australia and we’re excited to see how a brand with a storied history of creating emotive and stylish vehicles, executes its very first compact SUV.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: Specifications

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder mild-hybrid
Output: 118kW@5750rpm / 240Nm
Gearbox: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19×8.0, 235/45
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1491kg
Power-to-weight: 12.63:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 5.6L/100km
Our consumption: 6.2L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 55L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 21.07kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.42 seconds*
0-100km/h: 9.15 seconds*
60-110km/h: 6.66 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.99 seconds at 137.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.729g*
100-0km/h braking: 37.51m in 2.95 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.588g*
Decibel at idle (/sport mode): 42*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 79*
Starting price: $58,900

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: How much does it cost?

The Tonale punches into the luxury small SUV category above $45k, putting it against the likes of the Audi Q2 and Q3, BMW X1 and X2, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and Volvo XC40.

Kicking off at the bottom of the range, the Ti retails from $50,900. Then the Veloce that we’re road testing here rises to $58,900. On the top shelf is the Veloce plug-in hybrid variant (the only PHEV option) that retails from $78,500. (All excluding on-road costs.)

It doesn’t come cheap. Given the brand’s reputation for crafting vehicles with a passion-infused soul, it falls into a category where buyers are not just paying for a car; they’re investing in a piece of automotive art. Alfa Romeo aficionados may argue that the brand’s uniqueness justifies the cost.

It is built at Alfa’s Giambattista Vico plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, Italy. However, during a time where value for money is a crucial consideration, the Tonale’s price tag could be a hurdle. Comparatively, the Lexus UX and Audi Q2 have a cheaper entry-level price than the Tonale.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: Interior & packaging

Starting off with the exterior, and the Tonale strikes the right chords with an appealing design with that instantly recognisable stern Alfa front end and large alloys crafted with a large circular design. Every angle has been thoroughly considered to unambiguously strut fast, sexy and prestige impressions. Smooth angles and a curved silhouette convey athletic dynamics, with gorgeous paint colour choices to match. It’s an absolute winner in our opinion.

Step into the cockpit and you’re greeted with a blend of Italian sophistication and contemporary design. But only because of the asking price, the quality and feel of some materials could be better. For example, the steering wheel buttons need more cushioning, some brushed metal look areas are not real metal, and road and tyre noise inside could be quieter. Though the circular air vents, contrasting stitching edges and telescopic instrument panel all look striking and sporty.

Technology dominates the interior with a high quality 12.3-inch centre touch-screen and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. The menus and layouts used are clean, attractive, and easy to get used to. Importantly, they uphold a driving enthusiast’s experience by replicating a driver-centric analogue cockpit with all the important gauges. All models score wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, 3D TomTom navigation, and a wireless charging pad.

Given the Tonale is an SUV, it also needs to be practical. And it is. For a small SUV, there is a commendable amount of wriggle room inside, with a slidable centre armrest, decently-sized cup holders, and storage holes. The rear passengers are not forgotten. They get reasonable legroom (for this class), rear air vents and a USB-A and USB-C charging port. The seats are rather firm, but that’s expected from a sports-oriented vehicle.

Further back and the boot is listed to fit 500 litres of cargo, though the measuring standard could not be clarified. This makes it bigger than the Audi Q2 (405L), the Lexus UX (419L), the BMW X1 (471L), the Mercedes-Benz GLA (435L), and the Volvo XC40 (460L). But it’s not bigger than the Jaguar E-Pace’s 601 litres.

The boot appears to be narrower than some, thanks to completely vertical side walls that do not mould around the wheel arch. We do appreciate the 12-volt power outlet in the boot (many SUVs forget this), and the non-slip thermoplastic boot floor that stops objects from sliding around.

All Tonales are highly equipped, including LED matrix headlights with adaptive driving beam and dynamic turn indicators, carbon cloth and leatherette seats with Alfa logos and Biscotto stitching, aluminium pedals, a powered tailgate, tyre pressure monitors, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise with stop and go function.

In the way of safety, it also comes with autonomous emergency braking with vulnerable road user recognition, traffic sign recognition, driver behaviour warning, six airbags, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, and front and rear parking sensors.

Surprisingly, you need to option up to the ‘Technology Pack’ or upgrade to the Veloce to receive side parking sensors, a 360-degree viewing camera, more advanced adaptive cruise, assisted park, traffic jam assist, and active blind-spot assist with rear cross-traffic alert. For the price, some of this should be included in all models.

There is an optional ‘Lusso Pack’ available on the Ti and Veloce PHEV models, which gives you heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated washer nozzle, perforated black leather seats with embroidered Alfa Romeo logo and dark grey double stitching, eight-way electric driver and passenger seat with driver memory, and an upgraded 14-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system. Again, some of these features should be thrown in at this price point.

Anecdotally, Alfa Romeos don’t have the strongest reputation for longevity. To offer some peace of mind, the Italian brand offers the industry standard five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five years of free road-side assistance.

Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km. If services are conducted at an Alfa dealership, the first five will cost $545, $645, $545, $1345, and then $595. It’s not the cheapest, but not as steep as we were expecting from an Italian-made vehicle.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: Powertrain & handling

The powertrain is made up of a 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol four-cylinder and a 48V DC 0.8kWh battery powering a permanent magnet motor, charged via braking and the petrol engine. At 1.5 litres, it is rather small for a brand with a soul of performance. But it is backed up by a turbocharger and extra oomph from the electric side. The petrol engine produces 118kW and 240Nm and the electric motor creates 15kW and 55Nm on its own. Combined, they enable the Tonale to reach 0-100km/h in 8.8 seconds. Our test revealed a time of  9.15 seconds.

Those figures on paper don’t seem that inspiring, but in the driver’s seat, the Tonale feels zippy, capable, and fun to drive. The engine is lively and eager after it is pushed – you need to thump on the accelerator to get it out of a high gear slump. It’s made worse with the seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox that only seems to act with haste after it has ‘woken up’, or when the ‘D’ dynamic driving mode is active among Alfa’s three ‘DNA’ modes. There are certainly higher performance engines out there, but we think the Tonale only just crosses the line by an inch in a performance-to-price ratio.

Transitioning to and from electric power can feel jerky during acceleration at times. Other brands have managed to make this process smoother with mild-hybrid tech. Uniquely, the electric side doesn’t have any qualms turning off the engine at highway speeds when no throttle is applied. It takes roughly six lengthy squeezes of the brakes to a dead stop to charge the battery to full. So, it’s not a huge battery capacity. Nonetheless, it contributes to a marvellous official average fuel consumption of just 5.6L/100km. Our testing also revealed a reading that was rarely close to the official average, finishing up at around 6.2L/100km. Though, it does require more expensive 95 RON petrol.

Of course, there is more to an Alfa than its powertrain. On-road dynamics are just as important. The suspension is made up of coil springs and independent McPherson struts with sway bars on the front and rear. Veloce grades also score a unique dual stage electronic suspension system. Alfa describes it as a way to provide a choice between performance and comfort via an electro-actuated valve within the shock absorber that provides independent damping curves.

Two modes are available, comfort and ‘sport. Comfort is the pre-set calibration in the DNA ‘Advanced Efficiency’ and provides softer cushioning over bumps. Sport mode activates in Dynamic and ESC off driving modes, which reduces body movement and increases vertical rigidity for improved vehicle dynamics in corners.

There is also a dedicated button on the DNA selector so that the Dynamic suspension mode can be activated or deactivated separately. Being such a light and agile SUV, there is not a huge deal of difference between the suspension modes. Both modes provide the cornering and shock absorption that biases toward performance.

The steering is extremely tight, resulting in a sporty feel. Being front-wheel drive it really tucks into corners suddenly, and you get lots of torque steer that is exaggerated with the sensitive steering. All-wheel drive could improve traction and help improve straight-line stability.

The Tonale is better off sticking to sealed roads. Ground clearance is limited to 140mm, and low profile tyres with front-wheel drive means light dirt or gravel duties should be as far as you take it. Additionally, the towing capacity is average, with a maximum braked rating of 1500kg.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: Key attractions/reasons to buy

  • Design: It’s right on the money for attractive Italian style.
  • Fuel economy: We experienced excellent fuel economy during our real-world testing, and the official average is low for its class and power.
  • Practical yet stylish interior: It’s a proper design in here, with flourishes and quality materials in various areas.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: Key considerations before you buy

  • Expensive: It sits quite high in the price range for this class, with some more commonly known luxury rivals dipping below this.
  • Interior flaws: Some materials could do with a boost in quality when considering the price tag.
  • Operational annoyances: Wireless Android Auto can cut out when entering tunnels; jerky acceleration during engine warm-up; audible road noise; air-con indicator light does not seem to relate to whether it is on or off; and our test vehicle had multiple instances where the emergency braking and blind-spot assist automatically turned off even though the car seemed clean and it was not raining.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce: Video

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Ride & handling
  • X-factor (does it stand out in its class?)
3.8

Final word

The Tonale Veloce brilliantly blends high-class Italian flair, hybrid efficiency, and SUV practicality. We do notice some minor quality adjustments that could be made, and we only raise them because of the high standards the Tonale puts itself into due to its price.

Mark Davis

Mark's fascination with cars originated long before he was allowed to get behind the wheel himself. To him, cars are more than just a mode of transport; especially the ones that adopt purposeful innovations while preserving the joy of driving. With a master's degree in IT, he brings a tech-savvy perspective to our car reviews, particularly as the automotive industry embraces digital advancements. Mark joins Driving Enthusiast as a road tester after more than a decade at PerformanceDrive.
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