Alfa Romeo's new hope for sales success, the Tonale small SUV, appears to have leaked online in close-to-production form well ahead of its unveiling next year.
Images reportedly showing the finished or near-finished design have been posted online, seemingly first by an Italian car forum before being widely shared on social media.
They reveal the car bears a resemblance to the original Geneva motor show concept, but with a number of changes. At the front, the split between the bonnet and front bumper has grown, accomodating more conventional headlights.
The rear window has grown in size, too, while the tail-lights are thicker. The overall proportions remain the same, however.
Set to be unveiled as a production model some time in the middle of 2020 before arriving in showrooms at the end of the year, the Tonale made its UK public debut in concept form at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in July. It will be a challenger to the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
The SUV, which will sit below the Stelvio in the Alfa Romeo range, and which takes its name from another famous Italian mountain pass (this one lower and in the Rhaetian Alps), will be the brand's first car to offer plug-in hybrid technology.
The Tonale concept was a surprise unveiling at the Geneva motor show and underlines Alfa Romeo's determination to finally hit the 400,000 per annum sales target - up from around 150,000 in 2018 - that it has long coveted, according to European brand boss Roberta Zerbi.
“We expect the Tonale to become our best-selling car,” said Zerbi. “Combined with our other new products, we expect to have a car to suit the needs of around 80% of all European car buyers by 2024, and that puts Alfa in a much stronger position than today.”
Zerbi also claimed back then that the car would reach production with very few changes beyond details such as adding windscreen wipers and switching it from a four to five-seater. “This concept gives a good indication of the production model,” she said. “It is accurate in not just the proportions, but the details, including the telephone dial wheels, the triple headlamps and the dashboard lines.”
The Tonale is set to use a hybrid system that will be introduced in the Jeep Renegade shortly, although Zerbi refused to be drawn on details of its capabilities beyond saying it links a front mounted petrol engine and a rear-mounted electric motor.
Alfa gave no details of the power output of the system, but the Renegade PHEV revealed at Geneva by sister firm Jeep featured a 236bhp powertrain.