The Alfa Romeo Tonale shows off its good looks

19 August 2022

Sonja Nehls, principal analyst at Autovista24, took the Alfa Romeo Tonale for a ride and explored its residual-value (RV) potential.

The new Alfa Romeo Tonale combines iconic Alfa design with the popular C-SUV body style, a promising mix. The striking exterior, the driver-focused interior, and the premium ambitions of the brand give rise to high expectations.

Comprehensive standard equipment, convincing cost performance, and a five-year warranty ensure attractiveness for fleet customers. However, the initial engine line-up, material selection, and fit and finish fall short of premium models. How does all this translate into the remarketing outlook for the Alfa Romeo Tonale?

Alfa Romeo Tonale remarketing potential

Remarketing upsidesRemarketing downsides
Iconic design and popular body styleInitial engine line-up
Comprehensive standard equipmentMaterial selection and fit and finish
Five-year warrantyAlfa Romeo’s previous RV performance

With the Tonale, Alfa extends its portfolio to three models. It also marks the carmaker’s return to the C-segment, which it left when the Giulietta was discontinued in 2020. Different to the Giulietta, the Tonale is a C-SUV, a body style that is continuously growing in popularity.

Among three-year-old used cars with a mileage of 60,000km, C-SUVs already have a market share of 18-22% in Italy, France, Spain and the UK. At 12.5%, Germany is the outlier. When looking at 12-month-old used cars, C-SUVs even claim the top spot in the UK, with a 24.1% share of the used-car market.

These figures demonstrate the popularity of the segment and its models, but also the tight competition, the variety on offer, and the importance of a C-SUV model for a carmaker.

Standing out in a crowd

Given the intense rivalry in the C-SUV segment, a new model has to stand out to raise awareness. The Alfa Romeo Tonale does just that.

Alfa Romeo managed to transfer its brand heritage and iconic design very well to the Tonale, especially with its distinctive front and Scudetto grille. The model is immediately identifiable as a sporty C-SUV. At 4.52m, it is slightly longer than the BMW X1, the Cupra Formentor and the Hyundai Tucson. It is also 4cm and 5cm lower than the X1 and Tucson. Only the equally sporty Formentor is lower. Despite having the shortest wheelbase of the four, the Tonale’s rear interior space is not compromised and the 500l boot is sufficient.

Specifications and dimensions versus rivals (petrol versions only)

Click to expand (opens in new tab)
Source: Autovista Group specification data

The engine line-up does not tie in well with the brand promise or the expectations evoked by the exterior. In the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio the smallest available engine has a power output of 190hp.

The Tonale enters the market with two mild-hybrid petrol engines, 130hp and 160hp, as well as a 130hp diesel variant. The fuel efficiency of the two petrol models is better than for rivals, especially 5.7l/100km for the 130hp mild hybrid. However, you also feel the emissions-optimised engine set-up, which lacks driving dynamics.

A fourth engine, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with 275hp and all-wheel drive, will be introduced soon, bringing with it a more exciting driving experience.

Premium ambitions met?

The interior matches the sporty exterior of the Tonale. It comes with a driver-oriented dashboard, the DNA drive selector, a start-stop button on the steering wheel, and large gear-shift paddles.

The 10.25-inch screen is complemented by some physical buttons for the main functions, such as the climate control. The navigation system is not as clearly laid out as in other models, but the search function works smoothly and identifies addresses and other points of interest quickly.

The digital instrument cluster in the ‘cannocchiale’ has a high resolution and can be customised to a certain extent.

The premium appeal of a car is dictated not only by its engine noise but also the sound of its infotainment system. The navigation system’s directions sound a bit odd in the Tonale and also appear to come from a different speaker.

The styling and material selection look nice and are pleasing to the eye, but haptics and sturdiness fall behind. There are a lot of hard plastics and the softer parts atop the dashboard or front-door panels feel comparatively simple.

A compelling offer

The 1.5 T 96kW (130hp) 48-volt hybrid variant starts at €35,500 on the German market. The Super trim line already comes with 18-inch wheels, 10.25-inch display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB-radio, two-zone climate control, LED-headlights with high-beam assist, the DNA drive selector, and dynamic suspension.

To put this in context, the new BMW X1 sDrive18i starts at €43,900. For fleet and leasing customers, the diesel variants still hold major relevance. So, the detailed equipment comparison below focuses on those.

Remarketing-optimised configuration comparison

Source: OEM configurators
Note: S = standard equipment, prices given refer to cost of a pack or single option

An exact like-for-like comparison is always subject to the availability of options and packages. Also, the current supply difficulties impose further build restrictions.

The configuration of the 130hp diesel variant of the Tonale in Ti trim line confirms the comprehensive standard equipment. The list price is 15% below the X1 and only 2% above the Hyundai Tucson.

After adding segment-typical and fleet-relevant options, the gap to the BMW increases to 17%. The Cupra Formentor is the only all-wheel drive (AWD) model in the comparison and has the lowest level of standard equipment. The customised Tonale is priced 11% below a comparably-equipped Formentor.

While the Alfa Romeo Tonale does not meet the premium ambitions of the brand when it comes to the engine line-up or material selection, the pricing stays below premium competitors. All-in-all, the risk of a poorly-equipped Tonale arriving at the used-car market is low, and the cost performance of the small Alfa is convincing.

Remarketing outlook

The design and cost performance of the Tonale drive its remarketing potential, while the brand’s previous residual-value positioning prevents a stronger RV level. The five-year standard warranty and vehicle history recorded as a non-fungible token (NFT) are good measures for winning the trust of used-car buyers.

Alfa Romeo Tonale RV forecast, 36mth/60kkm, August 2022

The Tonale’s depreciation, the main determining factor for leasing rates and total cost of ownership, stays below €20,000 over the course of three years in Alfa’s domestic market, Italy. This, in combination with the strong standard equipment, makes the Alfa Romeo Tonale a good choice for fleet customers.

Alfa Romeo Tonale depreciation forecast, Italy, 36mth/60kkm, August 2022

The interactive dashboard gives a more detailed cross-country overview and benchmarks the Alfa Romeo Tonale’s residual value and depreciation against comparable models in the markets.

In the crowded C-SUV segment, the Tonale manages to stand out as a promising alternative. It can leverage its beautiful design, cost performance, and five-year warranty, making it a good choice for fleet customers across Europe.

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