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Updated Alfa Romeo Tonale possibly caught camo-free during design clinic

It could become the firm's best-selling model

Amateur spy shots taken during what looks like a design clinic held behind closed doors have shed light on how Alfa Romeo's Tonale concept is evolving on its way to production. They suggest the design study presented during the 2019 Geneva auto show wasn't as close to done as many thought.

The photos were posted on an Italian enthusiast forum and quickly taken down, but they were saved and published by an Instagram user named CocheSpias. Alfa Romeo did not distribute them on its official channels, so we can't be 100 percent certain about their authenticity. Assuming they're the real deal, they reveal the Tonale has mellowed out considerably since it first showed its nose in Geneva. The headlights are bigger in nearly every direction, they're less bionic-looking, and they're separated from the grille by smaller, recessed air vents. It's a look that's very loosely reminiscent of some of the company's classic models, like the Giulia Sprint GT. Stylists also re-shaped the hood.

The profile and the overall proportions don't appear to drastically change. The rear door handles remain integrated into the C-pillar to give the Tonale a two-door look, a styling cue also seen on the Giulietta sold in Europe. The rear lights are bigger, though they're still connected by a light bar. The emblem on the hatch confirms Alfa Romeo hasn't changed its mind about the crossover's name.

The user who posted the photos from the design clinic explained he wasn't given permission to upload images of the interior. He reported the Tonale's steering wheel looks a lot like the Giulia's, and the dashboard receives the same blend of round and rectangular air vents. The infotainment system's touchscreen is propped up on the dashboard rather than neatly integrated into the center stack, a layout which makes it easier to change during a mid-cycle update, or as tech advances.

Mechanical specifications remain under wraps. Alfa didn't have much to say about the concept, either, but we know it used a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The production model will receive at least one electrified option, though cheaper, non-hybrid drivetrains will also be available. Expect nothing bigger than a turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. Front-wheel drive will come standard, and all-wheel drive will be offered at an extra cost. 

Alfa Romeo showed the prototype depicted in the images to customers in order to get their feedback on the design, so what you see isn't necessarily what you'll get when the Tonale makes its global debut in 2020. Some details will evolve, but a ground-up redesign is highly unlikely at this stage.

While its introduction date hasn't been set yet, we wouldn't be surprised to see it in the metal for the first time during the 2020 edition of the Geneva show. If that's accurate, it will arrive in showrooms several months later as a 2021 model to lock horns with the Volvo XC40, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the BMW X2 and the Audi Q3. The Tonale could quickly become the best-selling Alfa.

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