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2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce PHEV

As a Formula One fan I've been hearing about the all-new Alfa Romeo Tonale for quite some time now. The Sauber F1 team formerly known as Alfa Romeo was promoting the Tonale for most of the 2023 season, so you can imagine my excitement when the PHEV was finally offered up on the press fleet. We've had an interesting run of Alfas on PRN, I first drove the Stelvio back in 2018 and wasn't overly impressed with the vehicle. It was a mid-spec trim but felt like it lacked power and pep compared with the BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. Ultimately I said that you'd be better off with either of those options. Then I drove the Quadrifoglio.

My father once pointed out an Alfa Romeo Spider in the parking lot of Mississauga Hospital and said it was a car for Doctors, people who had enough money to drive something that would usually be in the shop for repairs, and that stuck with me. The rare time I'd spot an Alfa on the road it would bring me back to that moment, so when FCA announced that Alfa Romeo would be making a return to the Canadian marketplace I was excited, and that finally paid off with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, a crazy loud, needlessly fast, exotic SUV that makes zero sense on paper, but complete sense once you drive it.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce PHEV does not provide that same experience.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce PHEV AWD

Base MSRP: $59,995.00 As Tested: $73,030.00 1.3L 4 Cylinder Gas Engine + Electric Drive Unit

212.5 kW | 285 Horsepower

6-Speed Automatic Transmission

470 N•m | 347 lb-ft of torque

15.5 kWh Li-ion battery

50 km EV range

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is built on a shared Stellantis global platform which currently underpins the new Dodge Hornet, a subcompact crossover intended for the North American market. The Hornet comes with engine choices like the Tonale, a gas and PHEV offering. Pricing is actually very similar, with our test unit coming in around $3,000 more than a similarly equipped 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T. Based on those facts alone the Tonale is the way to go. But compared with a Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class or BMW X2 the Tonale doesn't seem to stack up.

Currently no competitors offer a plug-in hybrid in Canada, so the Tonale PHEV stands on its own as offering buyers a 50 km EV range for the price of a regular Stelvio. We've tested plenty of electrified luxury vehicles over the years and most brands have been focusing on their larger models, like the BMW X5 xDrive50e, Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, or Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge. Small vehicles are worthy of a plug and we're glad that Alfa Romeo has taken the lead on this, even if the vehicle has flaws.

There's no doubt the exterior of the Tonale is fantastic. Taking the usual Alfa design language and making it work with the platform given to them. Sequential lighting on startup and shutdown are nice touches, and the rear light bar blending into the centre badge works great on a vehicle of this size. The $2,000 Verde Fangio metallic paint stands out like none other, and the $2,000 20" Graphite Grey rims from the ICE version are an expensive, but sexy option. Styling is an easy win for the Tonale.

The interior gets interesting. The rear seats are rather firm and flat, without much room for adults, especially adults that are Nile-sized. Front seat space is comparable to other subcompacts we've driven, with a bit of extra room for the driver versus the passenger. Light-up ambient details like the dash trim are a unique Alfa experience and help bring some added luxury to this rather plastic interior. I found the trim and materials used throughout were fine for an entry-level vehicle, but once the Tonale PHEV starts getting into the high $60k price range without unneeded options we hope to find slightly more premium materials throughout. Aside from that the infotainment is running uConnect 5.0, the digital cluster works well, and the metal paddle shifters feel nice to the touch even if they don't do much with the PHEV.

The driving experience is obviously a crucial one, as most Alfa buyers expect to drive their cars. The electric system works well, providing a consistent 50 kms of EV range in-town or on the highway, with the rear drive unit propelling the wheels in EV mode. Alfa's DNA modes give you a mix of electric, sporty, and day-to-day driving options depending on your mood. The exhaust has a bit of a rasp to it, but the overall HEV driving mode doesn't do much to exhilarate. The Tonale PHEV is best driven in EV mode, which might make a great in-town commuter vehicle.

Which brings me to the raison d'être, why does the Tonale PHEV exist in the first place? Like the Stelvio before it, the Alfa doesn't necessarily make sense on paper. Nearly $15,000 more than the regular ICE version offered in Canada, it would take you years, if not a decade of driving purely in EV mode to make that difference back in gas savings. Since the 2.0L engine is offered in Canada we're planning to get our hands on it to see if it's worth getting, but I actually spotted one on the road today, my first Tonale spot since the vehicle launched, compared with the 3 Hornets I've seen.

You're not going to buy the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce PHEV because it makes sense on paper, or because of the fuel savings you'll enjoy. You're not going to buy it because you've cross shopped features on a BMW X1 M35i or Mercedes-AMG GLC 45. You're going to buy the Alfa Romeo because you want something different, something a little exotic. Something that your neighbours will ask you about when you first bring it home, and something you won't have to worry about losing in the parking lot. It's a vehicle you buy because it's not much more than a Dodge, meaning you're not paying much of a premium for the badge like you normally would. The Alfa Romeo Tonale makes sense for all the wrong reasons, and we're here for all of it.

Stay tuned as we plan on booking the gas version of the Tonale as soon as we can, to see what the experience is like for the price difference. Until then I encourage you to check out the video we filmed on the Tonale PHEV over on our YouTube Channel.

You can also watch the POV video we filmed on this vehicle, also available on our YouTube Channel.


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