The sub-Stelvio compact crossover Alfa desperately needs looks promising
This is a concept. This is only a concept. That’s Alfa’s story at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, and it’s sticking to it. Never mind that every panel, crease, glass surface, and even the 21-inch “phone-dial” wheels and tires look production ready. OK, the hollow camera “mirrors” and light-pulsing interior panels present production red lights, and having a rear “bumper” inset from the farthest aft point on the fetching bee-stinger hatch will be bad for the pole test. Other than that, the Alfa Romeo Tonale would appear to be a concept in name only.
The brand desperately needs to tap into the wildly expanding compact crossover market, so don’t expect this concept’s road to production to be particularly long or winding. Speaking of long, winding roads, the name Tonale refers to yet another fabulous Italian mountain pass—this one crosses the Rhaetian Alps, connecting Lombardy and Trentino.
What is concept-like is the amount of actual information disclosed about the Tonale, apart from the fact that it’s said to feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain as suggested by the modified Alfa biscione logo, in which the snake body terminates in an electric plug, with a little lightning bolt in place of the tongue (pressing this icon on the upper rear door frames opens the rear door electrically—a feature we would endorse ditching for production). We’re also told the rear axle is electrically powered. Representatives wouldn’t even confirm that it rides on FCA’s “small-wide” platform (Jeep Renegade and Compass, Fiat 500X—and it almost certainly does) let alone talk engines, transmissions, or battery sizes.
What Alfa’s VP of design, Klaus Busse, was eager to talk about was the design, which involved lots of hand sculpting. Penned at Alfa’s Centro Stile in Turin, it incorporates loads of Alfa design cues and clearly appears related to the Stelvio without any hint of the same-salume-different-length design aesthetic. The trademark Scudetto grille is there, but this time it’s flanked by three-plus-three LED headlights evocative of those on the SZ and Brera. The shoulder line rises and falls, suggesting the equivalent line on the Giulia GT Junior coupe. The three-plus-three lighting signature is echoed at the rear.
Inside, the four-place interior (sure to sprout a fifth seat belt in production) is designed to suggest muscular tension with the contrast of warm leather and Alcantara against cold aluminum, as well as the aforementioned pulsing ambient lighting. Naturally, gigantic screens inform and entertain the driver and front passenger, and new levels of connectivity are promised, connecting owners with other Alfisti and presenting Alfa merch that can be ordered via the touchscreen. The DNA button’s Dynamic mode will summon full power from the front engine and rear electric motor, while an E-mozione button on the touchscreen further tailors throttle settings, braking response, and steering feel.
Watch this space for further technical information in the months to come, as we expect to see this “concept” on the road sooner rather than later.