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Specs Check: 2021 Alfa Romeo Tonale vs. 2020 Volvo XC40

When it comes to luxury goods, bigger is always considered “better”—after all, you don’t see the super-rich buying up tiny homes, flaunting microscopic diamonds, or sailing in dinghies. Luxury cars and SUVs often have the same problem. A big, imposing Audi Q8 can be considered properly luxurious, whereas the little Q3 just doesn’t have the same impact. But nevertheless, some subcompact luxury SUVs manage to buck that trend. Hailing not from Germany, but the design capitals of Italy and Sweden, the Alfa Romeo Tonale concept and Volvo XC40 are two of the most stylish and convincing small luxury SUVs in the segment. Here’s how they stack up on paper.































Whereas the old saying, “Same sausage, different lengths,” applies nearly universally to the lineups of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, both Alfa Romeo and Volvo deserve some credit for allowing their small SUVs to have their own sense of individuality.

Of the two, the Alfa Romeo Tonale represents more of a design departure than the Volvo. With the big caveat that the Tonale is still technically a concept and likely previews the coming design direction for Alfa, the Tonale is refreshing in how different it looks from its Stelvio big brother. The Tonale manages to be unmistakably an Alfa, with its signature Scudetto grille and sumptuous curves, but still unique in its own right. Its headlights harken back to the old Alfa Romeo Brera, while the SUV’s sleek lines are held together around the Tonale’s sides and back with hidden rear doors and an LED taillight strip across the back of the tailgate.

Like the Alfa, the Volvo XC40 won’t ever be mistaken for anything but a Volvo. Thanks to its Thor’s Hammer headlights, and corporate grille, the XC40’s nose looks much like its XC60 and XC90 big brothers’, but around back the XC40 has its own unique design language. Whereas Volvo’s bigger SUVs are fairly mature-looking, there’s a youthfulness to the XC40. Especially in R-Design trim when equipped with a contrasting roof, the XC40 manages to capture the essence of the latest in streetwear and combine it with the clean lines and purposeful stance of a sporty crossover.


















Volvo has quietly been both designing and building some of the best automotive interiors over the past half-decade, and the XC40 is no exception. Ignoring style for a moment, Volvo really nails all the details from a practicality standpoint. Its seats, both front and back, are supportive, comfortable, and roomy. Its trunk is spacious, and, for added versatility, the XC40 features a pass-through to the backseats for longer items, and fold-flat rear seats.

Beyond practicality, the XC40 arguably sports one of, if not the, nicest interior in its class. It’s well-designed, intuitively laid out, and features a refreshing mix of materials and colors—especially if you opt for the orange carpeting on the XC40 R-Design.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale’s cabin is a bit harder to pin down because as of today, it’s pure concept fantasy, with four seats, and a sprawling leather, Alcantara, and aluminum center console that’s backlit in the brand’s signature red hue. Looking past the Tonale’s concept eccentricities, it would appear that the baby Alfa SUV’s cabin will look much like the rest of the lineup once it hits the streets. We expect a sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel (including the engine’s on/off button), a large driver-oriented infotainment screen, and a prominent “DNA” drive-mode selector once the production Tonale is finally unveiled.


As we saw with the Alfa’s cabin, pinning down the Tonale’s powertrain is a bit difficult due to its concept status. Alfa Romeo says the Tonale concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain but hasn’t given any further details on it. Our guess is that the Tonale sports the same powertrain as the Europe-only Jeep Renegade plug-in hybrid since both SUVs share a platform. The Jeep sports a 1.3-liter turbocharged I-4 up front and an electric motor at the rear axle, giving the Renegade all-wheel drive, about 240 horsepower, and roughly 31 miles of electric-only range on Europe’s generous WLTP test cycle. Given the Alfa brand’s sporty reputation, this powertrain, if it ever makes it to the U.S. in the Tonale, could make about 260 horsepower or so.

We expect the Tonale to be offered with at least one non-hybridized turbocharged four-cylinder engine when it goes on sale in the U.S., perhaps as early as model-year 2021.

The Volvo XC40’s powertrains, on the other hand, are known. Currently, it’s available in the U.S. with two different gas-powered four-cylinders (and overseas with a three-cylinder engine, a diesel, and a plug-in hybrid). The base engine on the American-market XC40 T4 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 making 187 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic and is only available in front-wheel drive. A step up is a XC40 T5, which also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4, but it makes 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It sends its power through an eight-speed automatic to a standard all-wheel-drive system.

The XC40’s lineup will soon be augmented by the XC40 Recharge, Volvo’s first full-electric vehicle. Expected to hit the streets late next year—coincidentally about the same time we expect the Alfa Tonale to go into production—the XC40 Recharge has an electric motor at each axle, with a large 78 kilowatt-hour battery pack mounted underneath the floor. Combined power output is said to be 408 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque. The XC40 should offer around 200 miles of range.


The Volvo XC40 starts at $35,340, and we expect the range-topping electric model to sticker for around $45,000 before incentives.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale will likely start in the mid-$30,000 price bracket, too, and top out under $50,000.

The post Specs Check: 2021 Alfa Romeo Tonale vs. 2020 Volvo XC40 appeared first on MotorTrend.

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Author: Erika Pizano

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