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Alfa Romeo Tonale is pretty to the eye and sets the right tone

Alfa Romeo is a brand you don’t often see on the roads in South Africa. But when you do, you can't help but stop and marvel at the Italian beauty - just as many Joburgers did as we cruised around town in the all new, red Alfa Romeo Tonale, writes Prashirwin Naidu.

Four years after its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, the Alfa Romeo Tonale, named after a mountain pass in Italy, has arrived in South Africa. 

This car, particularly in red, is ravishing. There are some other exciting colour pallets like green and blue as well. But remembering my zany red-loving gran Ruby, red is the one for me. Morgan Naidu, my funky grandad, would have also approved. Not to mention Morgan Naidu Junior, whose motoring footsteps drive and ride with the same zeal. 

Alfa Romeo is a brand you don’t often see on the roads in South Africa. But when you do, you stop and marvel at the Italian beauty. The Alfa Romeo Tonale was a head-turner in that regard. 

It has a fine blend of assortments with the striking red colour that’s Alfa Romeo’s signature pallet, along with some red callipers added to the 20-inch low-profile wheels. Interestingly enough, the wheels are a classic Alfa Romeo design resembling elements of an old-school telephone dial wheel. 

Many more details were added to give it a sharp look—the matte black body detailing, “the 3+3” LED headlights. There are also some elements of the 1980 SZ Zagato (Alfa Romeo classic car) in the front-end design, and towards the rear, it has dials of the 8C sports car. 

True blue, the brand stays authentic to its sporty theme.

The crossover SUV was more prominent in person, it was finer and pleasing to the eye too. 

Hopping inside the cabin, it was high levels of luxury. Appreciating the sporty feel the brand always seems to evoke. The 3-spoke steering wheel with the paddle shifters made it feel racy. 

The infotainment system was a tad delayed but still quirky as I tried connecting my device a million times. It comes with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is responsive and a 12.3-inch instrument cluster for the driver.

There was a whole host of leather trimmings as well, with some sporty racing seats that were added to the mix- along with a premium Harmon Cardon sound system.

Now, delving into performance. It was a smooth operator, easy to wield. This was by no means supposed to be fast; it had the zippiness to it. 

It incorporates a hybrid turbocharged 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine- also using a small lithium-ion battery pack with a 48-volt electric motor (offering 15 kW and 55 Nm) which is also capable of powering the wheels even when the internal combustion engine is not running.

The cabin features a 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 12.3 inch instrument cluster for the driver.

It was economical as claimed fuel consumption is 5.7l per 100km. I achieved around 7.3l per 100km. 

For under R800 000, you get an intelligent compact crossover that slots into a crowded segment dominated by considerably more expensive and extremely common rivals such as the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evogue and Volvo XC40. 

Of course, this Italian wonder has a fanatical following, but sales in South Africa could be better. The German brands dominate but could the Alfa Romeo Tonale buck the trend? 

According to Alfa Romeo, the Tonale completes the 0-100 km/h sprint in 8.8 seconds. It also produces a modest 118KW of power and 240Nm of torque. 

It was by no means made to be quick. The Alfa Romeo Tonale is an affordable car that ought to do well if motorists dare to be different. Make mine a red – Uncle Morgan would say, drive and ride in style, boy!

Fleet Street: the Tonale range is available in a choice of six colours – Alfa White, Alfa Red, Alfa Black, Misano Blue, Montreal Green and Vesuvio Grey.

• Pricing: Alfa Romeo Tonale cost in South Africa:

  • Tonale Ti 1.5 Hybrid 160 DCT – R739 900
  • Tonale Speciale 1.5 Hybrid 160 DCT – R799 900
  • Tonale Veloce 1.5 Hybrid 160 DCT – R819 900
Prashirwin Naidu
Prashirwin Naidu
Aspiring scribe, Prashirwin Naidu is a writer focusing on cars and the arts.
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