The upcoming 2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale small SUV has been delayed.
Sources have told industry publication Automotive News Europe the launch of Alfa Romeo's critical new small SUV has been pushed back to early 2022, after new brand CEO Jean-Phillippe Imparato demanded "better performance" from the Tonale's flagship plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain.
However, it remains unclear whether Imparato's concerns relate tophysical driving performance from the engine and electric motor, poor fuel economy performance, or a short all-electric range.
The new early 2022 production start date represents a delay from the October 2021 date previously in the schedule, and around three years after the Tonale concept debuted at the Geneva motor show in March 2019.
Reports from January claimed the first production Tonale examples would reach European dealers in November 2021 – though the new delay would see that date pushed back to around March or April of 2022.
While Australian launch timing has yet to be confirmed, it's now unlikely Alfa Romeo's small SUV will reach local showrooms before the middle of 2023, if European and Australian launch timing for current and previous Alfa Romeo models is any guide.
It's widely expected the Tonale will share its platform with the Jeep Renegade and Compass, with the flagship PHEV powertrains in those models developing a combined 177kW from a 134kW/270Nm 1.3-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine paired to a 44kW/250Nm electric motor on the rear axle and an 11.4kWh battery pack.
The petrol engine sends its torque to the ground through a six-speed automatic transmission, which combines with the e-motor to enable a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.5 seconds and a 49km all-electric range.
Automotive News Europe cites the Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid for a performance comparison – a vehicle developed under Imparato's watch, as Peugeot CEO from September 2016 to January 2021 – with flagship 3008 models extracting 221kW and 59km from a 150kW 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors and a 13.2kWh battery.
Re-engineering the Tonale to match or exceed those specifications would see it lined up as a natural rival to sporty small SUVs including the 225kW/450Nm BMW X2 M35i and 221kW/400Nm Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 – a variant which could wear Alfa's mid-tier sporty Veloce name.
Speaking to Reuters, a Stellantis spokesperson said "We want to be on the market with the most updated electrified offer, leveraging on the Stellantis technology and know-how. Our teams in Pomigliano are strongly working to update the production line [at the Pomigliano plant, where the Tonale will be built]."
The Tonale was first unveiled as the aforementioned concept in early 2019, before leaking in production form in late 2019 out of a consumer test clinic.
The small SUV will be followed up by an even smaller 'light' crossover in 2023, based on parent company Stellantis' CMP platform with the option of all-electric power.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest on the 2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale as its launch nears.