The Alfa Romeo Tonale is finally causing a bit of a stir in the silent showrooms again. With its design it knows how to steal many hearts, but is it also a match for the BMW X1 and the Volvo XC40 with its safety, space, finish and comfort?
Alfa Romeo took the time to develop the Tonale. After the introduction of the Stelvio in 2017, the Italians remained silent for more than five years. Not a single new model was introduced and sales figures declined. Last year, the long-awaited compact SUV finally hit the market. Like the Stelvio, the Tonale is named after a mountain pass. And for good reason, because for car enthusiasts, winding mountain roads are pretty much the ultimate. And Alfa Romeo of course has a reputation in this area.
But this first part of the test is not yet about exciting driving characteristics. We also look at the space, comfort and safety of the Alfa Romeo Tonale 1.5T Hybrid 160. He takes on the BMW X1 sDrive20i and the Volvo XC40 B3, the Dutch crowd favorite.
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Alfa's famous scudetto grille (which literally means 'shield') is sandwiched by three pairs of LED lamps and at the rear the logo is placed in the center under a narrow LED strip. It is all very nice what the Tonale has to offer optically. The mood is also there inside. There, the Tonale hints at historical models, with classic 'Alfa tubes' for the instruments. The space in the front is less good than in the BMW, but you have more space than in the Volvo. You sit a little tighter in the back of the Tonale; the sloping roofline limits headroom.
Compared to the Tonale, it also lags behind Volvo XC40 more spacious. The interior is 7 centimeters wider. If there are no people in the back, the driver can fold the rear seat headrests at the push of a button. That's nice for clarity. But the BMW X1 has larger windows and narrower C-pillars, so it even outdoes the Volvo.
The predecessor of the BMW X1 was a winner with its handling, thanks to the intelligent iDrive system. But BMW has been tinkering with this so much lately that the praise disappears like snow in the sun. The rotary knob in the middle has disappeared, instead you have to make do with a multitude of menus on the central screen of the curved display. It is a confusing whole. Fortunately, the voice control in the BMW works fine, just like in the Volvo XC40 incidentatlly. The Volvo's display with its menus arranged one below the other is easier to understand.
The Alfa Romeo Tonale is the most difficult to understand. The menu structure has a small display and the touchscreen does not always respond when you press it with your finger. The same applies to the button in the tailgate, which closes it automatically. In terms of quality and finish, you see large gaps between the different interior parts, but they are uniform. Hard plastic has been used here and there, but everything is neatly finished and you don't hear any strange rattles while driving. The Tonale also manages to score many points with its luggage space of 500 to 1550 liters.
Only when we start driving are the blades sharpened and the measuring equipment is unrelenting. It is immediately noticeable that the seats of the Alfa Romeo Tonale Hybrid do not provide enough support for your shoulders. Moreover, you are more likely to sit up than in the chair; the seat padding is very sturdy. You will sit comfortably on the back seat, because it offers your thighs just the right support. The seating comfort of the BMW X1 is the best. The sports seats are perfect and the sliding rear seat (with adjustable backrest) is better than those of its two competitors.
The noise comfort in the Tonale is somewhat less due to the rolling noises at high speeds. Compared to the busy Italian, the BMW is an oasis of peace. The rumbling sounds of the engine and tires are so well muffled that you barely hear them. The passengers of the Tonale have to brace themselves for a very firmly tuned chassis. This way they are never left in the dark about the quality of the road surface. If it is poor, comfort becomes unpleasant, especially when fully loaded. The suspension reaches its limits sooner than that of the BMW and the Volvo.
The Volvo XC40 does not have adaptive dampers and you don't miss them on the highway. The standard suspension and damping also work properly on a bumpy road surface. However, the Volvo sways more than the BMW, which has (optional) adaptive shock absorbers. However, not everything is hallelujah with the Bavarian, because his bodywork is in a lot of motion on bad road surfaces. He knows how to master manhole covers and thresholds; better than the Tonale and the XC40.
This post was last modified on September 29, 2023 11:12 am
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