Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV: long-term test review

First report: it’s love at first sight as we take delivery of our smart new SUV

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    Our family has a real love of Alfa Romeos, and – almost a quarter of a century after a 156 helped bring us together – the first signs are that my husband and I will enjoy life with the brand’s smallest SUV.  

    • Mileage: 4,599
    • Economy: 38.5mpg
    • There is just something about Alfa Romeo; the name and romance seem to go together. Despite the marque’s reputation for unreliability, the looks win out. 

      My husband and I have always had a soft spot for the brand and back in 1999, when we were first dating, I specifically asked to borrow the just-launched Alfa 156 for an evening – one way to make an impression! I remember the model didn’t disappoint either, bringing a smile to both our faces. 

      So when I heard the next fleet car I would be getting was an Alfa Romeo, we were both genuinely excited. It certainly softened the blow of having to hand back our previous Stellantis product, because the DS 4 was so comfortable it had become a firm favourite.

      Our new Alfa is the firm’s baby SUV, the Tonale, in range-topping Veloce trim with a PHEV powertrain. The line-up starts from £48,495, but the on-the-road price for our model is £52,945 – by the far the most expensive vehicle I’ve had the keys to.  

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      The special Montreal Green paint costs £1,500, plus our car is fitted with a Leather and Harman Kardon Pack and the Winter Pack. For £2,600, these bring a 14-speaker premium sound system, leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated seats, while the Mode 3 charging cable adds another £350. 

      The quoted range on electric power is 40 miles and the car arrived fully charged with a reading of 35, which is promising. There is also an e-save button below the gearstick, which you press to save your electric power for when you want it. It’s already proven  useful on drives from the coast to London, saving the EV power for the 20mph zones and inevitable heavy traffic. We’ve also found that the regenerative braking does top up the predicted range – something that didn’t happen in the DS we ran previously.

      The exterior styling of the car certainly doesn’t let down the Alfa name; it really is a smart-looking SUV. I was a fan from the word go, but studying the car closely while the photographer took the pictures for this report, I found myself really admiring it, as did various passers-by. It has a few little details that only enhance the look, and the front and rear lights are wonderful. 

      The interior is fairly minimalist, with a good-quality 10.25-inch touchscreen nicely positioned on top of the dashboard, while the physical climate controls underneath are a definite bonus. There is some black plastic, but everything you touch has a nice feel; the smart three-spoke steering wheel is leather-trimmed, as is the gear shifter, while the paddles (standard with Veloce trim) are metal. These, along with a small strip along the dashboard, and the silver air vents,
      break up the black.


      The leather seats look great and are comfortable, plus electronic adjustment makes setting your driving position that much easier. There is also good adjustment on the steering wheel, which is very useful for us, given that my husband and I have very different driving positions.

      It’s early days, but so far we are loving life with our Italian motor and looking forward to getting to know it better. We have already been asked about it a couple of times, and one lady in particular really wanted to know what we thought of it. She was an Alfa fan, having previously owned a Stelvio which, in her words, hadn’t put a foot wrong, and has been looking at the Tonale for her next car.  

      We obviously couldn’t make any comment on the car’s reliability just yet, but we passed on our initial impressions of the PHEV drivetrain, and told her it was definitely a good option, particularly if you have a way to charge at home. So perhaps we have pushed her towards a purchase – and hopefully we’ll also go on to have as much of a trouble-free time as she did with her Alfa.

      Model:Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce 1.3 280 PHEV
      On fleet since:July 2023
      Powertrain:1.3-litre petrol/1x e-motor, 276bhp
      CO2/tax:29g/km/£0 (first year)
      Options:Options: Montreal Green paint (£1,500), Winter Pack plus Leather and Harman Kardon Pack (£2,600), Mode 3 charging cable (£350)
      Insurance*:Group: 38 Quote: £755
      Any problems?None so far

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