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New Alfa Romeo Tonale revealed as Audi Q3 rival

Italian take on the small SUV segment is a smaller sibling to the impressive Stelvio. It’ll hit roads this autumn

Well hello there. Or is hearty ‘ciao’ more appropriate? Alfa Romeo has pulled the covers off its new Tonale SUV, a rival to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Volvo CX40 – and it’s an absolute looker, if we do say so ourselves. Smaller sibling to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, it’ll arrive in UK showrooms this autumn with an anticipated (but yet officially unannounced) starting price of around £30,000. It promises to bring Italian flair to the burgeoning small SUV class, and there might even be a fully-electric version in the future, too.

At first, the Tonale will come with three electrified engine options, two using a 1.5-liter petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology (read more info on those here), the other will be a 1.3-litre petrol with plug-in hybrid tech (info here). Alfa Romeo’s new SUV will exit the starting gates with a focus on efficiency, something that represents the company’s wider ambitions to accelerate towards an all-electric future. But the Tonale also promises to offer a sporting drive – as its exterior design suggests.

Being sporty is something the Tonale’s bigger brother, the Stelvio does rather well – we’re big fans, hence our healthy supply of the model here – and we’re happy to see the smaller car’s interior borrows some design features. The steering wheel sports extended aluminium gear shift paddles, allowing you to take control of the automatic gearbox in a tactile way. There’s a digital display behind the wheel, with a central infotainment screen beside it, offering all the usual digital goodies, including Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Alfa Romeo promises the car’s emotive design translates into the way it drives, with a weight distribution (the spread of weight from front to the rear of the car) being a perfect 50:50 ratio. That means the Tonale should have brilliant balance, and Alfa Romeo adds to that potential by claiming the car has highly responsive steering. It sounds, well, like the Stelvio, which is a good thing, because that bigger SUV is a lovely thing to drive indeed. Especially in its most powerful Quadrifoglio spec.

While it seems unlikely the smaller Tonale will get anything as cooking as a Quadrifoglio version for itself, the two part-electric, part-petrol engines offered from launch should be nippy enough. The mild-hybrid versions have 130hp and 160hp respectively, while the plug-in hybrid Tonale, boosted by more electric oomph, has a claimed 275hp. That’s just 5hp short of the grunt offered by the racy Hyundai Kona N that we recently reviewed on video. But, naturally, the plug-in hybrid will be more focused on saving fuel.

Key to that is the plug-in hybrid Tonale’s claimed ‘up to’ 50 miles of all-electric range, where you can drive the car with its petrol engine completely off. Company car drivers will likely be pleased to see that, because hybrid models are extremely popular in that world right now. Like all present-day plug-in hybrids though, longer distance journeys will require both petrol and electric power to work in tandem.

The Tonale certainly delivers on the tech front, and it’ll build on that if an all-electric version arrives. We say if, because Alfa Romeo said it’ll decide whether to build one after evaluating the demand. Either way, the Tonale has another cool technical feature that ought to impress: it uses Amazon Alexa voice control in the cabin, and can even be used as a delivery point for Amazon products, remotely unlocking when your order arrives. Pretty nifty.

There’s plenty to like then, although we suspect many will have been smitten at first sight. Whether it’s the Alfa Romeo’s frowning front-end design, the teardrop window line or – for long-standing fans of the brand – those gorgeous wheels that hark back to icons of Alfa’s past, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. You needn’t wait for the Tonale for that sort of Italian magic though, because cinch has several other Alfa lookers online and ready for delivery right now. Go on, take a look…