As the first all-new Alfa Romeo model in over five years, the premium compact Tonale SUV looks to take on the highly-competitive C-SUV segment. Despite setbacks from the pandemic and now the semiconductor shortage, Alfa Romeo engineers continue to fine-tune the newest Italian SUV. Our good friend Walter Vayr of GabetzSPYUnit happened to get our closest look yet at the entry-level 2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale Sprint.
The name Tonale comes from the Tonale Pass, which is not far from the Stelvio Pass in the Alps. The Tonale Pass is a large natural amphitheater famous for its majestic peaks, the natural spectacle of frothy waterfalls and snow all year round in a breath-taking natural setting.
The all-new 2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale looks to carry over a lot of styling elements from the Tonale Concept, that was first shown at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. Its curvy bodywork and signature Alfa-styled nose, make the Tonale resemble its big brother the Stelvio. However, it’s the minor details that show us where the Alfa Romeo design team is taking the brand.
In these photos, we see that the Alfa Romeo design team gave the Tonale a more aggressive look with a more leaned forward to look like a cat ready to pounce on its prey. While the camouflage does a good job covering most of the vehicle, we can see the narrow headlamps and taillamps like those from the concept using tri-LED daytime running lights (DRLs).
The engineering sticker tells us a little more about this prototype than the details peeking under the camouflage. The sticker states that this prototype is a Sprint model. For those not familiar with the Alfa Romeo trim structure, the Sprint trim is the entry-level model on the Giulia and Stelvio.
While our sources have indicated that Tonale will feature an all-new turbocharged 1.5-liter “FireFly” inline-four-cylinder engine from the Stellantis Global Small Engine (GSE) family, we can see that this prototype is powered by the current turbocharged 1.3-liter “FireFly” inline-four-cylinder from the GSE lineup (hence 1300 on the decal). The turbo 1.3-liter currently sits under the hood of such models as the Jeep® Renegade, Jeep Compass, Fiat 500X, and Fiat Toro. In Europe, the 1.3-liter is best known for being a key part of the Renegade and Compass 4xe powertrain.
It is expected that the Alfa Romeo Tonale, will share key components of Renegade and Compass 4xe powertrain for its own plug-in hybrid variant.
The Renegade and Compass 4xe powertrain integrates two electric motors and an 11.4 kWh battery pack, with the fuel-efficient 1.3-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. This architecture provides two cars in one – a battery-electric vehicle featuring an electric motor and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack on the rear axle and a conventional vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) fitted on the front axle.
Two electric motors, one of which is located on the front axle and coupled to the ICE that, in addition to working in synergy with the engine, can act as a high-voltage generator, as it is necessary. The second motor is located on the rear axle and features reduction gear and integrated differential (also known as the “e-axle”). It delivers 60 horsepower and 250 Nm (or about 184 ft.-lb) of torque, generating traction and recovering energy while braking.
The turbo 1.3-liter is entirely made of aluminum for lightness (it weighs 106 kilograms or about 234 pounds). The crankcase, developed in partnership with Teksid, is made of high-pressure die-cast aluminum alloy. After studying various crankcase designs, a bedplate architecture was chosen, to offer the best balance of weight, structural performance, noise, and vibrations. Like all turbocharged versions in the GSE family, it includes exclusive third-generation MultiAir technology that improves combustion efficiency by adjusting valve lift and timing and further optimizes independent intake valve opening and closing.
By integrating the electric machine on the auxiliary belt it was possible to design a control logic that optimizes the dynamics and efficiency of the ICE and the downstream automatic transmission. The result is a front axle superior to any equivalent of conventional powertrain capable of offering a lively, smooth, and efficient behavior.
The 11.4 kWh, 400-volt lithium-ion battery pack uses cobalt-nickel manganese/graphite chemistry. It is located underneath the second row of seats, where it is protected from outside elements. Enclosed in a steel casing, the pack is fitted with a dedicated heating and cooling circuit to keep the battery at its optimum temperature for best performance.
It was originally announced that Alfa Romeo CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato was not too happy with the performance from the PHEV prototypes of the Tonale. So we expect that Alfa Romeo engineers could have placed an even bigger lithium-ion battery pack in the Tonale version to help squeeze more power from the Italian electrified variant.
While customers of the Jeep 4xe models can customize their electrified drives with custom E Selec modes, we expect the Alfa Romeo model to do the same with its signature DNA modes. On the Tonale Concept, Alfa Romeo stated that the Tonale could be customized to the following specifications…
- “Dynamic” mode evolves into “Dual Power” mode and guarantees maximum output from the ICE and electric motor
- “Natural” mode continues to maintain the best performance optimization, and the compromise between using electric and internal combustion engines is managed automatically. This translates into everyday energy and fuel savings, but not to the detriment of performance
- The “Advance Efficiency” mode becomes “Advance E” for performance in full electric mode. So, in line with the principles of the brand, the plug-in hybrid propulsion enhances the beauty, sporty and dynamic driving characteristics of each Alfa Romeo model, taking them to a new level. In Tonale, electrification embraces performance and represents a new way to achieve high performance and outstanding driving fun
- The infotainment touch screen featured an “E-mozione” button, which offers specific throttle settings, sharper braking, and a more direct steering response
It will be interesting to see how much of the production is based on the concept. But judging on how well received the concept was, we expect besides some packaging changes that Alfa Romeo will have left the gist elements still intact like the DNA drive modes.
The Tonale is expected to push the Italian marque on the global stage by offering a vehicle in one of the most competitive segments in the auto industry.
2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale Sprint Prototype Image Gallery: