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This new Alfa Romeo Tonale is a BMW X1 and Audi Q3 rival

Alfa's new crossover concept is a plug-in hybrid, full version ready in 2020

You can tell when a motor-show concept is just a thinly disguised future production car. It’ll have windscreen wipers. The Alfa Romeo Tonale doesn’t. And yet… “This concept gives a good indication of the production model,” says the boss of Alfa Romeo in Europe, Roberta Zerbi. “Not just the proportions, but the details, including the telephone dial wheels and the triple headlamps. Also the dashboard lines.”

So it’s going to be made. When, TG enquires. “At the end of 2020,” says Zerbi. So that’s pretty specific then.

It’s right in the hot part of the crossover market, against compact stuff such as the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. But they don’t have the headlights off an Alfa SZ and the wheels off a 33 Stradale.

The concept has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, Alfa’s first, and Zerbi confirms it’ll be launched with that. Plus conventional combustion choices.

“The concept has four seats but that would be a nonsense in a crossover. It will have five seats,” says Zerbi. Ahead of the driver is a digital screen, and another 12-inch central screen handles the infotainment. Standard stuff these days, though Alfa has lagged in this department.

Zerbi emphasises that the proportions are real. When you look at the sides, the position of the front wheels implies a transverse engine (as all rivals have). She won’t be specific on the platform. “We’re looking at architectures that we have in-house.” It’s pretty reasonable to speculate that it’s derived from the Jeep Compass and Cherokee are themselves derived from the Alfa Giulietta’s. Which is actually pretty modern in principle, though not updated often enough so far.

Also at the Geneva show, Jeep launched a Compass with a PHEV battery, so the speculation all fits together.

Tonale, by the way, is another Italian mountain pass, not too far from the Stelvio. But not as high.

So, does Alfa need another crossover? Well, Alfa’s sales haven’t grown as fast as the company hoped since the Giulia and Stelvio arrived, so launching into the big-selling segment should add sales by itself, and also add awareness that will help the rest of the range.

Now, does the super-busy small posh crossover market need an Alfa? Comments below please.

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