How many false dawns have we seen from Alfa Romeo? Enough to warrant a healthy dose of cynicism every time a new model is heralded as the saviour of the company, that’s for sure. 

Even so, and despite not getting off to the most auspicious start, given the rather anaemic power delivery of the mild hybrid model, the Tonale SUV may still represent a glimpse of sunlit uplands for the Italian company.

As with most manufacturer’s line-ups, there is always a sweet point in the range, and the plug-in hybrid Tonale appears to be the honey.

Despite being lumbered with an additional 125kg of battery mass which enables an all-electric range of 42 miles, and in turn reduces CO2 emissions to 26g/km while generating a BIK implication of 8%, the plug-in Tonale somehow manages to produce a blend of dynamic engagement, the like of which eludes many rivals, including the sector’s best-selling Volvo XC40.  

Much of the Tonale’s inherent driving enjoyment comes from its steering engagements, which are speedy and surprisingly delicate. Not that this delicacy will appeal to everyone, especially those given to a ham-fisted disposition, as some almost artful inputs are required to get the Tonale to change direction in its most fluid and intuitive manner. Even so, things are far from skittish and fitted with the adaptive suspension dampers, which are standard on Veloce models, the Tonale feels rock solid at motorway speeds and glides over rougher road surfaces with a quiet, comfortable confidence. 

If anything, there may be a wee bit too much vertical body freedom when the suspension is in its selectable comfort setting and too little breathing space in dynamic mode, leaving us to question why a betwixt and between setting wasn’t considered but this may be a wee bit hypercritical. 

Another area contributing to driver engagement are the Tonale’s brakes. Unlike many regenerative systems, which can be frustratingly hit and miss and sometimes downright heart-stopping in the varied way they react to pedal inputs, the Alfa’s fly-by-wire brakes remain reassuringly consistent, no matter what kind of behind-the-scenes regen strategy is being employed.

Unsurprisingly, things are extremely hushed when driving in pure electric mode, although together with the lack of mechanical clatter and impressively little wind or suspension noise, the levels of tyre roar can sound unfairly elevated.   

With a combined output of 280hp there’s plenty of performance on tap and the link between the front-wheel drive petrol engine and the rear-wheel drive electric motor is almost seamlessly integrated, although the petrol engine can often be held for elongated periods at high revs, possibly as part of the battery charging strategy. This trait can be overridden by using the half horseshoe sized paddles located on the steering column to force feed upshifts and given the petrol engine tends to get quite thrashy as the revs climb, you may want to adopt this strategy on a regular basis. Unfortunately, in typical eccentric Alfa fashion, the aforementioned shift paddles are so big they do their utmost to get in the way of the wiper and indicator stalks. 

Overall the Tonale’s cabin feels rather cosy and the tape measure suggests it’s not the widest of accommodations, while the large centre console enhances the cheek-by-jowl impression for those travelling up front. Fixtures and fittings are a bit of a mixed bag, but the overall impression is classy and stylish. There’s a sharp reacting central infotainment screen, which can also be accessed using Alexa voice command and switchable dial designs for the main instrumentation.

Further back a couple of passengers should have little complaint regarding leg and headroom although the Tonale’s heavily stylised body does mean the view out of the rear windows isn’t particularly panoramic. 

That rather slender footprint also means the boot is on the narrow side and because the bigger battery pack is stashed under the floor, the 500 litres of the regular Tonale drops to 385 litres, so if you’re a golfist you will have to slide your bats in on the diagonal. 

Although Alfa is remaining coy re P11Ds, the plug-in adds around 5000 euros to the price of a mild hybrid version in Europe. Given a Veloce mild hybrid costs £42,495 here in the UK, it doesn’t take a fiscal genius to work out that Alfa has some rather lofty ambitions for its plug-in Tonale.

Alfa Romeo Veloce Plug-in Hybrid Q4 


Residual value: TBC

Depreciation: TBC

Fuel: TBC

Service, maintenance and repair: TBC

Cost per mile: TBC

Fuel consumption: 206.3mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 26g/km (8%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: TBC

Luggage capacity: 385 litres

Engine size/power: 1,332cc 180hp + 90kW electric motor/ 280hp