We’ve been here before. The Alfa Romeo Tonale is the brand’s latest make-or-break model, the one that is going to turn its fortunes around and thrust it back into the hearts and minds of the mainstream car buyer.
Well, that’s the idea, but it’s not the first time Alfa Romeo has been in this situation. The 156 was a minor success in the 1990s, but the Alfa Romeo 159, despite gorgeous looks, couldn’t keep it up. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta loped along, but the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Alfa Romeo Stelvio have been as much of a commercial flop as they’ve been a critical success. And the less said about the Alfa Romeo 4C the better.
As much as we love the Giulia, a traditional saloon with fabulous driving dynamics but a so-so interior and infotainment, it was not the right car for the era. This time, Alfa is at least looking in the right direction. A premium-flavoured crossover SUV with exclusively hybrid powertrains, and an electric version on the way, could hardly be more 2022. Actually, it is even more 2022 than that, because it comes with a non-fungible token, or NFT. Yes, really.
The flipside of trying to crack such a popular segment is that the Tonale will have plenty of competitors and will need to find a way to stand out. Pretty much every car manufacturer short of Ferrari and Caterham have a horse in this race. The most obvious rivals are the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque, but you could argue that posh versions of cars like the Hyundai Tucson and Peugeot 3008 are valid alternatives, too.