Alfa Romeo's long-awaited Tonale crossover might not make its global debut in 2021 after all. Its launch has reportedly been delayed because the firm's boss wasn't satisfied with the proposed plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
Anonymous sources familiar with the company's product plan told industry trade journal Automotive News that the Tonale won't begin arriving in showrooms until the first part of 2022 at the earliest, a delay of at least three months. It was tentatively scheduled to enter production on the outskirts of Naples, Italy, in October 2021. While setbacks aren't uncommon, the same sources claim the soft-roader's postponement was ordered by Jean-Philippe Imparato, who was appointed Alfa Romeo's chief executive in January 2021 when FCA merged with PSA to form Stellantis.
Formerly at the head of Peugeot, Imparato demanded better performance from the hybrid powertrain that will be offered on some variants after seeing the Tonale for the first time in January 2021. Whether he wants additional electric range, more horsepower, or both remains to be seen. Alfa Romeo hasn't released technical details, but Automotive News reported the crossover will be closely related to the Jeep Compass, so it could get its American cousin's gasoline-electric plug-in technology. It consists of a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor mounted over the rear axle. The system's total output checks in at 190 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, though a 240-horse variant of the drivetrain is available on more upscale trim levels. Electric range is rated at 31 miles at up to 81 mph, and hitting 60 mph from a stop takes 7.5 seconds, a respectable figure for the segment.
Another point that's unclear is how engineers will improve the Tonale's numbers. Making tweaks to Jeep's 4xe powertrain is an option; borrowing components from the Peugeot-Citroën parts bin is another, though the latter solution is more difficult to implement than the former. Less than a year away from production, even with the delay taken into account, the Tonale is mostly locked in. Photos taken during a design clinic (pictured) suggest it has changed significantly since we discovered it as a concept in 2019. Redesigning the engine bay to accommodate a different four-cylinder or reengineering the structure to fit a bigger battery could cost millions of development dollars.
Alfa Romeo hasn't commented on the report, but the Tonale doesn't appear on a timeline of 2021 launches that Stellantis sent to its suppliers last month. When it finally lands, the crossover will be positioned at the bottom of the Italian firm's range, in a spot formerly occupied by the Giulietta hatchback, and it will very likely become Alfa Romeo's best-selling model. Whether it will be offered in the United States hasn't been clarified yet.