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First Look: 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale

Stellantis Canada’s sporty Italian brand jumps into the small SUV segment with claims of sexy styling, sporty handling, and a plug-in electric hybrid powertrain.

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Despite producing some gorgeous, fun-to-drive cars, Alfa Romeo has struggled to gain a distinct identity in the Canadian market. The Italian luxury brand’s dealers often have more cars available for sale than any other brand except sibling Fiat, even in a time when many car dealers struggle to keep supply up.

Canadian Alfa dealers have only two models to offer—the sharp Giulia compact sports sedan and handsome Stelvio compact SUV. Perhaps more Canadians would notice them if Alfa had a contender in the smaller SUV space.

Enter the 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale.

Is the 2023 Tonale as stylish as its sexy-looking Alfa Romeo siblings?

Smaller in almost every dimension than the Stelvio, the 5-passenger Tonale shares unmistakable DNA with its larger brother. The Alfa shield grille makes the hood look long and lean, even if its dimensions are relatively similar to the rest of its class. Sharply-raked rear glass threatens to give it Porsche Macan-like, small-greenhouse proportions, but a thick rear pillar mutes the effect, giving the Tonale a look all its own.

Inside, heavily bolstered seats with grippy Alcantara faux-suede give it a sporty look. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen in the middle keep pace with the rest of the segment technologically.

As a division of Stellantis, Alfa uses the same Uconnect 5 system as Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler to control climate and entertainment functions. Amazon Alexa can handle them through spoken commands. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both wireless, are standard. So is wireless phone charging.

 

How will the Tonale be powered?

The 2023 Tonale will come with a choice of two powerplants.

One uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine making 256 horsepower and a 9-speed automatic transmission.

The other uses a 180-horsepower, 1.3-litre turbo-4 mated to a 90-kW electric motor to lay down a total of 272 total horsepower. It’s a plug-in hybrid system, and Alfa calls it “the most efficient in the segment,” claiming a range of up to 48 kilometres on electric power alone. It uses a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Both powertrains are offered only in all-wheel drive.

 

Will the new Alfa Romeo SUV be fun to drive?

Alfa Romeo proudly claims its 2023 Tonale will offer “best-in-class driving dynamics.”

The boast is backed by the best weight distribution and the most direct steering in its segment (13.6:1 ratio). Alfa says the Tonale will be the only model in its class to be equipped with the Integrated Brake System and available fixed aluminum shift paddles. The adoption of fixed callipers by Brembo, with four pistons and self-ventilated discs at the front and full discs at the rear, contributes to the improved braking performance, says Alfa Romeo.

The Tonale opts for afully independent MacPherson suspension system with Frequency Selective Damping shock absorbers. The “Dual Stage Valve” active suspension features electronically controlled damping. 

 The advancement of electric drive modes in Tonale is managed by the exclusive Alfa D.N.A. system that promises optimized manoeuvring and performance. Through the D.N.A. selector, the driver can also select one of the two available pre-set damping curves. “Comfort” allows for a more compliant ride, a softer suspension calibration for rough roads, and is the default suspension setting in the Advanced Efficiency and Normal drive modes. “Sport” stiffens the ride for ultimate cornering ability and better body control under spirited driving conditions and is the default suspension setting in the Dynamic and E.S.C. Off drive modes.

 

What will be 2023 Tonale’s trim levels?

Two trim levels will be available—Sprint and Veloce—with clearly defined specifications.

Alfa Romeo says the base Sprint trim can be customized with numerous options for a “strong sporty connotation.” The Veloce trim will reach “the peak in terms of sporty character and luxury.”

 

How much will the new Tonale cost?

Stellantis Canada hasn’t released pricing for its new sub-compact luxury SUV. It will be priced less than the larger 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio compact SUV, which starts at $57,795 in Canadian dollars.

 

What will be the 2023 Tonale’s showroom competition?

The small and luxurious SUV segment is becoming one of the industry’s most competitive. 

As of now, the new Alfa Romeo will have to attract buyers who would also be interested in the Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2, Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA/GLB, Range Rover Evoque, and Volvo XC40.

 

When will the new Alfa Romeo small SUV go on sale?

Stellantis Canada says orders for the all-new 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale open in the fall of 2022, with availability in the first quarter of 2023.
 

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