The Alfa Romeo Tonale Concept: When Performance and Beauty Meet Electrification
March 18, 2019 – The Alfa Romeo Tonale Concept, the plug-in hybrid compact SUV (C-UV) concept recently presented at the Geneva International Motor Show, is the kind of vehicle that could only come from Alfa Romeo. While clearly stamped with the brand’s traditional DNA, the state-of-the-art driving dynamics and electric propulsion have been designed to maximize the vehicle’s beauty and sportiness.
Like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the Tonale is also named after a famous Italian mountain pass, a natural spectacle of majestic spires and waterfalls located in the Italian Alps.
Just as the Stelvio and Giulia represented the first of a new generation of Alfa Romeos, the unmistakable Italian style and unparalleled driving pleasure of the Tonale aim to rewrite the rulebook in the industry’s fastest growing segment. In fact, global sales of C-UVs have doubled over the last four years and are forecast to grow a further 40% by 2021, reaching around 1.4 million vehicles.
Another emerging trend is the electrification of premium C-UVs, and it is estimated that by 2024 76% of vehicles in this segment globally will be electrified, and more than 80% in Europe. “It’s only natural that Alfa Romeo would enter this segment,” said Tim Kuniskis, Global Head of Alfa Romeo. “And given our heritage, it’s also only natural that we would deliver a C-UV unlike any other.”
Speaking at the press event, Klaus Busse, head of the FCA Design Center in Turin said, “There is no better way to design the future than to look back at our past.” And, in fact, one look at the curves of the Tonale and you couldn’t mistake it for anything other than an Alfa Romeo.
“Try washing an Alfa Romeo by hand,” Busse suggests. “It’s the best way to appreciate the beauty of its surfaces. No corners, just fluid lines and shapes inspired by the human form.” This new C-UV features many of the design traits characteristic of Alfa Romeo, from the 21” wheels – somewhat reminiscent of a vintage telephone dial in tribute to the iconic 33 Stradale from the 1960s – to the GT lines that reinterpret those of the award-winning 1963 GT Junior. The unmistakable Alfa Romeo shield-shaped grille and accompanying “3-plus-3” LED headlights evoke the same proud look as the SZ and Brera. In the back, the distinctive rear lighting looks more like a stylized signature in the night air than actual break lights, which is only appropriate for a work of art like the Alfa Romeo Tonale.
While the vehicle’s interior is designed around the driver, passenger comfort is also guaranteed. The lines are a perfect balance of harmony and power, giving the sense that the car is always ready to pounce. The thrill of driving the Tonale is enhanced by the contrast of cold, hard aluminum against the warming softness of materials such as leather and Alcantara. Expert craftsmanship meets innovation and technology.
The DNA drive-mode selector, one of the essential features of any Alfa Romeo, stands out against the back-lit central panel. The fully digital 12.3” screen and the main 10.25” touchscreen unit enable drivers to monitor the infotainment system without taking their eyes off the road. The new “Alfista” and “Paddock” functions give access to live news and updates on Alfa Romeo events and can be used to purchase innovative interior and exterior options, as well as Alfa Romeo branded clothing and merchandise.
The Tonale aims to set a new standard for performance in its segment, with electric propulsion that delivers the pure emotion characteristic of Alfa Romeo. No special badges or liveries are used to signal the hybrid propulsion, just a simple ‘electric’ stylization of the Alfa Romeo logo in a few discreet points.
This rear-engine, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) opens up new technologies dedicated to the delivery of pure driving pleasure. This is visible via the Alfa Romeo DNA drive-mode selector, for example, which now offers specific settings for the electric propulsion system. In the Tonale Concept, “Dynamic” mode has become “Dual Power” and it gives maximum output from the two engines. Selecting the “E-mozione” button offers a precise calibration of gas pedal, more effective braking, and faster response from the steering wheel.
“Natural” mode automatically manages switching between the electric motor and combustion engine ensuring consumption doesn’t compromise performance. And “Advanced Efficiency” has now become “Advanced E” for full-electric performance.