► Alfa Romeo electrical plan unveiled
► Details of the cars that will follow the Tonale 2022 SUV
► Hybrid and electric, front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive
Alfa Romeo will unveil the Tonale SUV tomorrow, a car that announces the brand’s “metamorphosis” from purely thermal propulsion to purely electric motorization by 2027. This is the electrification timetable defined by Alfa’s CEO Romeo, Jean-Philippe Imparato, in an exclusive interview with Car.
“When I launch a car from 2025, it’s only electric,” Imparato says, instantly leveling Alfa with Audi for its switchover year. ‘When talking about the Alfa Romeo makeover, Tonale is the first step that says “hey guys, we’re electrified”. But electrification will serve Alfa Romeo, Alfa Romeo will not serve electrification.
What do we know about Tonale?
The all-new Alfa Romeo Tonale, rival to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, will be unveiled to the world at 2:00 p.m. (UK time) on Tuesday, February 8. Then come back for Car’s exclusive story.
Alfa previewed the Tonale at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, confirming the concept uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain. In the nose was a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol, with an overhead electric motor spinning the rear axle for four-wheel drive. Fiat-Chrysler also revealed that the Tonale will use a reworked version of the Jeep Compass/Renegade platform, and a version of the Tonale concept drivetrain – with up to 240 hp and 30 miles of pure electric range – powers the Compass 4xe plug-in.
But there’s a good chance the Tonale will top those numbers. ‘We have postponed the launch to the very beginning of 2022 [for a few months] because I wanted to secure [electrified] features and performance that meet market expectations,” reveals Jean-Philippe Imparato.
Everything will become much clearer on February 8.
The Alfas to succeed the Tonale: a small crossover
Over the past decade, Alfa Romeo has had a bad habit of grandly announcing a range of cars to propel the brand to 400,000 annual sales, then failing to follow through. In 2021, admittedly at the height of the Covid-induced supply crisis, Alfa only delivered 56,000 cars worldwide.
Imparato refuses to make the same mistake. “I will explain to you every year what the plan will be for next year. And 2022 will be the launch of Tonale, provided I have the right level of quality. Then we have a big event produced every year for five years, and then we repeat the cycle. I have my 10 year vision and the product plan locked in and funded.
After Tonale comes a smaller SUV: the baby Renegade Jeep shows the potential to scale back its platform to spawn a baby Alfa: expect that in 2023/4. The Renegade has a choice of two electrified drivetrains: the plug-in 4xe and a 130hp mild hybrid with an electric motor that allows it to run at low speeds in pure electric mode.
Alfa Romeo’s new head of design, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, arrived in July 2021 – too late to affect the design of the Tonale. But it shapes the baby crossover. “It’s not your typical large SUV, it’s very sporty in its proportions. It’s really cool, I like it a lot. It will definitely be an Alfa Romeo,” he told Car, in his first detailed interview in post.
Also expect a big Alfa Romeo SUV…
Alfa Romeo’s B-segment crossover, a rival to the Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q2, is unlikely to be Alfa’s only new SUV. CEO Imparato reveals that at the end of 2021, Stellantis approved a new car aimed directly at the North American and Chinese market. That suggests a large SUV in the space above the Stelvio: something around 4.9m with five- and seven-seater capacity would rival the BMW X5.
The alternative is a large sedan or an 8-Series Gran Coupe rival, but an SUV is probably the most likely. ‘I heard some [commentators say]: “Ah Jean-Philippe, stop SUVs!” Sorry my friend. The problem is that the world is made up of SUVs. And as I say, even an Alfista has a family! laughs the boss.
What do we know about purely electric Alfa Romeos?
The first purely electric Alfa Romeo is coming in 2024, with CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato confirming the car will be “hybrid and fully BEV”. And the following year Alfa Romeo’s step change begins. “In 2025, I will be disruptive and we will launch a super performance all-electric car. And from there, the cars that I launch are only electric.
Stellantis is developing four purely electric architectures, to support its 14 passenger car brands as they embrace zero emissions. Imparato confirms that Alfa will use four Stellantis architectures and directly verifies the name of the electric STLA Medium and STLA Large (pronounced Stella). Preparation is also underway for Alfa to use STLA small, but that won’t be in service until 2026. The final platform – for now – is surely the Tonale’s hybrid underpinnings.
STLA Medium is expected to enter service in 2023. It offers up to 104 kWh of battery capacity and electric motors developing up to 180 kW (241 hp) that can be mounted on the front or rear axles, or both. STLA Large is bigger with more impactful performance – for more details on Stellantis’ EV strategy, click here.
What future for the Giulia sedan and the Stelvio SUV?
The STLA platforms are expected to spawn the bulwark replacements for the current Alfa lineup, the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV. Imparato says both cars are increasing their share of the D-segment combustion segment, and it’s possible Alfa Romeo will keep them in service with extensive makeovers, to bridge the gap until they can move to STLA .
“The successor to the Giulia will not come in 2024,” says Imparato. “But as I am in love with the shape of my Giulia, I can tell you that the Giulia will have a successor. You’ll see one day, it’s great, really beautiful. And the Quadrifoglio version of the cars that we will launch will have a very high level of performance.
So expect phenomenal performance from Alfa’s electric vehicles, long range and fast charging. “Alfa Romeo is freedom”, says Imparato. “An Alfisti is a guy who does what he wants. So if I’m BEV I don’t want to be stuck in a charging station for two hours. I want to charge 80% of my car in 15-20 minutes. I want to be able to travel 700 kilometers (435 miles) in my car because I don’t want to stop – and freedom drives it.
And what else can we expect as stalwarts of the new era of Alfa Romeo under Stellantis ownership? ‘Sportiness. Inspired by Italy. And always driver-centric. Artificial intelligence will be an asset in my cars, but I will always select the data that will improve your driving feeling, the behavior of the car. I don’t want to sell an iPad with a car around it.’
And that’s a good summary of Alfa Romeo’s metamorphosis: electrified, connected and digitized – but still with Alfa’s values of good dynamics and high performance at its core, we hope.