Alfa Romeo’s upcoming Tonale SUV has been caught testing in pre-production form, ahead of its full reveal next year.
When it arrives it will be a smaller sibling for the Stelvio. It will be sized as a rival for long-standing favourites in the compact premium SUV sector – think Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA.
Despite the heavy disguise, this development car bears a clear resemblance to the Tonale concept unveiled at the Geneva motor show in 2019, featuring the same overall proportions and design cues. The bluff front end and characteristic horizontal headlight design remains, albeit without the exposed 3D running lights of the concept.
The wheels are also very similar to those seen on the Geneva car, appearing with the marque’s trademark 5-hole design. Unsurprisingly, the concept’s blade-like door mirrors have been replaced with more conventional items, and gone are its sleek flush-fitting door handles. The swooping window line and shapely rear haunches have remained intact, however.
At the rear, this test car wears a set of rudimentary tail lights, although the full-width lightbar of the concept will feature on the final car. As with the headlights, we expect a more conventional lighting setup than that of the concept.
Leaks of a production-ready Tonale have surfaced previously, and this test car serves as another indication that the compact SUV aims to mirror the concept as closely as possible.
The Tonale will mark the second SUV in the brand’s 111-year history, as Alfa Romeo looks to tap into the growing crossover-craze. It’ll also be the first Alfa Romeo to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, which is currently undergoing further development to improve performance.
At the 2019 Geneva Show, Alfa’s European boss Roberta Zerbi told us: “Clearly we are working on the plug-in technology for the range. Tonale will be the first.”
If the Tonale arrives with no major engineering changes brought about from Alfa’s integration into the new Stellantis group, it will adopt the ‘Small Wide’ platform from the Jeep Renegade. The Milanese offering will, however, be fitted with specially-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes for improved dynamics.
Alfa Romeo is yet to release engine and specification details, but we expect the Tonale to use drivetrains fetched from other Stellantis models, alongside the new plug-in hybrid unit. These could include the FireFly petrol engines from the Fiat 500X, and the 125kW 2.0-litre diesel motor from the Jeep Renegade.
The Tonale is set to launch next year, as part of Alfa Romeo’s SUV-offensive that will include a smaller, entry-level crossover in 2023.