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Long-term review

Alfa Romeo Tonale - long-term review

£48,495 / as tested £53,345 / PCM £534
Published: 22 Feb 2024


  • SPEC

    Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce 1.3 280 PHEV AT EAWD



  • BHP


  • 0-62


Living with an Alfa Romeo Tonale: pothole-related tyre woes

According to BBC News, potholes and pothole damage is at a five-year high. From January to November last year, almost 630,000 potholes were reported on mainland Britain. The AA estimates that potholes may have cost UK drivers as much as £500 million in repairs. And the environmental cost of replacing all those otherwise undamaged tyres that would still have been good for up to another 10,000 miles is yet to be calculated.

Why am I telling you this? Because the Alfa and I are now part of the large (and growing) proportion of the British driving public that has experienced this exact form of extreme disappointment.

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Yes, on a recent daytrip down to the far end of nowhere in the deepest depths of the Cotswolds, the Tonale found its way into a grossly unpleasant pothole, which ruined the sidewall and caused a non-negotiable puncture.

The bad news is that the car has no spare and, in fact, no tools whatsoever – all it has is a container of tyre gunk and a compressor to shove the gunk into the tyre. Which means that if you are away from home and get an unrepairable flat you are basically stuck where you stop.

The good news is that Alfa has AlfaAssist (otherwise known as the RAC) on hand to help should you have a mishap. I called, Dave arrived within half an hour – I wish all emergency callouts were so swiftly attended – and, after a thorough examination of the wheel and tyre, he decided that as the sidewall was irreparably damaged there was no alternative but to front up for a new tyre. He suggested a local mobile tyre service who could come out and replace the flat as a pancake Bridgestone.

Had this happened at any time other than a Sunday morning, I feel certain the story would be different from now on, but it was a Sunday morning. And, had the Alfa been fitted with a standard size tyre, I also feel certain the story would be different. But it wasn’t.

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It turns out that no tyre shop in the area had a replacement for the unusually sized Alfa rubber. Meaning we would either a) have to wait until Monday to even see if one existed anywhere and if it did then persuade someone to bring it to the stranded Tonale and fit it or b) call back Dave from the RAC, get recovered home and try my luck there instead.

A few calls to tyre shops in my own area showed they had no suitable tyres in stock either. Not good. Why can’t carmakers use ‘normal’ tyre sizes and eliminate all this stress? Anyway, after too much tyre research and too little relaxation, I decided to stay put and see what the local tyre fitter could do.

This is where the story begins to improve...

At 9.03am on Monday, I had a text from Anthony the mobile tyre fitter to say he had sourced a tyre (about 100 miles away) which he was happy to go collect, bring to the Alfa and fit. This was just what I needed to hear, naturally I asked him to go ahead. He kept me informed of his progress, arrived swiftly, fitted the tyre perfectly (side note: if you ever get the opportunity to look into a mobile tyre fitter’s van, you should – it is a fascinating mini workshop with all the fitting kit neatly packaged inside) and sent me on my way just before lunchtime. He also mentioned that the majority of his work now is pothole related – no surprises there, I guess.

Now, I know what you’re wondering – how much did this excellent service cost? Including sourcing the new rubber, then driving over 200 miles to go get the tyre and bring it to the car, fitting it and being in remarkably good spirits, the final bill was £495.95. Five hundred quid to turn the Tonale from huge paperweight back to a car – worth every penny.

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