The Alfa Romeo Tonale Is the Automaker’s First Attempt at a Hybrid

Luxury automaker Alfa Romeo may not sell millions of vehicles each year, but its fans are loyal ones. Known for producing beautiful, high-end vehicles, Alfa Romeo is finally jumping into the electric vehicle trend with its own luxury hybrid. But the subcompact luxury Tonale SUV isn’t just Alfa Romeo’s first attempt at a hybrid powertrain, it’s also one of the most anticipated luxury vehicles of the year.

Alfa Romeo’s first luxury hybrid will be an affordable one

The Tonale is Alfa Romeo’s newest compact SUV and also the brand’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle. According to Alfa Romeo, the concept debuted at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, shocking on-lookers with the way “electrification meets beauty and dynamism” in the Tonale.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is set to start production this year and hit dealerships as a 2021 model but with a less-than-luxury price tag. According to Car and Driver, Alfa Romeo is expected to set a starting price of around $35,000 for the Tonale hybrid, with options and packages forcing the price to top out at around $50,000 for all the bells and whistles. 

According to Kelley Blue Book, the current average starting price of a small luxury SUV is around $42,000, while the average price of a midsize luxury SUV is around $51,000. The new Tonale’s starting price will make it a competitor against other luxury vehicles in the same segment but also a competitor against non-luxury brands, where non-luxury midsize SUVs hold an average starting price of around $33,000. With a promising starting price, will the Alfa Romeo become the next best luxury SUV? 

The Alfa Romeo Tonale: everything we know so far

Alfa Romeo is blending its striking designs and dynamics with a new, electrified powertrain to create its very first hybrid vehicle. According to Slash Gear, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Tonale will share the same high-end Italian styling the brand is known for with a curvy body, “three-plus-three headlight design,” and a sporty grille. Though no specifics have been released on the Tonale’s horsepower and range capabilities, experts expect the hybrid variant to be right in line with top competitors.

The Tonale will be available as both a gasoline-only and hybrid model, with the hybrid version most likely getting a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the front and an electric motor in the rear. The platform the Tonale sits on is the same one used in Fiat Chrysler Automobile Group’s (FCA) Jeep Compass and Renegade, though it’s been tweaked “to deliver a more direct and exhilarating driving experience as all Alfas are known for.”

The interior of the Alfa Romeo Tonale will receive impressive tech features like a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Premium lighting and leather seating is also to be expected.

Will the Alfa Romeo Tonale hold up in a tight segment?

In an effort to rewrite “the rules of today’s fastest-growing segment using the brand’s trademark language made up of gorgeous Italian design and unparalleled driving dynamics,” the Tonale is easily distinguished as an Alfa Romeo vehicle and a contender in its segment.

Its design and striking appearance set it apart from others in the very-large SUV segment, with Car and Driver experts calling the Tonale “a rare beauty in a sea of luxury-subcompact crossovers.”

Not only will the Tonale need to compete against a variety of rivals from the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, but it may also be Alfa Romeo’s last attempt at success in the U.S.

In 2018, Alfa Romeo sold the most vehicles it ever has in the U.S., but its 23,000 units sold that year pales in comparison to the same 83,000 it sold in Europe. According to the data on CarSalesBase, sales in Europe have been steady for Alfa Romeo, but sales in the U.S. have fallen more than 20 percent in just the last year. It seems the Tonale is Alfa Romeo’s last attempt to appeal to the American luxury buyer.