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Alfa Romeo Tonale 2024 review: Veloce PHEV long-term | Part 1
The 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is a truly significant new model for the famous Italian brand for a couple of reasons.Firstly, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is an example of Alfa Romeo’s first small SUV, which is an entry-level segment that should deliver the premium marque significant incremental volume.Secondly, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is exactly that: a plug-in hybrid, which is something that Alfa Romeo has never offered before.[read-more-default-title]Petrol-sipping swansong: Iconic Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale reborn as modern supercar, and you can't have one"Maybe we've known it all along?": Alfa Romeo closing in on 2024 launch of small electric car SUV to challenge Mercedes EQB and Volvo EX30Can Alfa Romeo be Italy's Tesla?Needless to say, expectations are high for the Veloce PHEV Q4, as not only does it have to help drive sales for Alfa Romeo alongside the rest of the Tonale line-up, it’s also its first meaningful step towards a zero-emissions future.With all of that mind, I’ve been handed the keys to an ‘Alfa White’ Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 for three months to conduct a long-term EV Guide review that will detail what it’s really like to live with the Italian supermodel.In this first instalment, I’m going to focus on what the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 has to offer on paper, covering its pricing and features within the context of its competitive set. To finish, I’ll touch on plug-in hybrid life for the first time. Let’s get to it, shall we?Is the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV Q4 worth it?It’s an interesting question. At $78,500 plus on-road costs, there’s no denying the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 costs a lot for a small SUV, even a plug-in hybrid one – and that view doesn’t really change with the lens of the premium segment.See, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s biggest competition doesn’t come from other plug-in hybrids. Instead, it comes from fully electric vehicles, including the 230kW/494Nm BMW iX1 xDrive30 ($84,900) and 300kW/660Nm Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Motor ($85,990), both of which also have all-wheel drive.For reference, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 uses a 132kW/270Nm 1.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine to drive its front wheels via a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. It also has a 90kW/250Nm electric motor to drive its rear wheels. Of course, as part of a series-parallel hybrid system, those two power sources can operate independently of one another or in tandem, depending on the conditions. When combined, up to 208kW of power is available, with Alfa Romeo not quoting a total torque figure.As a result, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 can complete the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds. While that is quite encouraging, the iX1 xDrive30 takes 5.6s and the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor just 4.9s. So if it’s straight-line performance you’re after, it’s hard not to recommend spending an extra $7000 or so to get the German or Swede – and that’s before you even take into account the other advantages of going fully EV.But even within the context of the Tonale line-up, the flagship Veloce PHEV Q4 still doesn’t make a lot of sense from a value point of view. The mid-range Veloce ‘mild hybrid’ and its 118kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine is priced from $58,900, which makes for a whopping $19,600 difference between it and the PHEV.To be fair, Alfa Romeo Australia is at pains to point out that the Veloce PHEV Q4 comes standard with the Lusso pack (a 14-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, a heated steering wheel and eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and cooling), which is a $4500 option for the Veloce mild hybrid. It also includes the $2500 panoramic sunroof, but even so the plug-in hybrid premium is still a very challenging $12,600. Point being, you’re not going to recoup that investment in fuel savings anytime soon – but more on that later.So, what else do you get for your spend? Well, there’s adaptive dampers, dusk-sensing LED lights (including adaptive LED Matrix headlights), rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, four-piston Brembo brake callipers finished in red, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors with heating, keyless entry, rear privacy glass and a power tailgate.Inside, a keyless start and a 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, TomTom satellite navigation and digital radio feature. And then there’s the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charger, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full-grain leather sports steering wheel, aluminium column-mounted paddle-shifters, pedals and door sills; and ambient lighting.Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), steering assist (with lane keeping), adaptive cruise control (with stop and go functionality), traffic sign recognition, active blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, driver attention monitoring, rear seat reminder alert, park assist surround-view cameras, front, side and rear parking sensors, and tyre pressure monitoring.Six airbags (dual front, side and curtain) also go some way in helping the Tonale achieve the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating under the 2022 protocol – but the Veloce PHEV Q4 remains unrated, as the further independent testing required for its unique plug-in hybrid system is yet to be conducted in Europe, let alone Australia.So, what don’t you get overall? Well, the Veloce PHEV Q4 misses out on the space-saver spare wheel the rest of the Tonale line-up gets. Instead, there’s a tyre repair kit, which is nowhere near as handy. Otherwise, it’s very well equipped for the segment.And when it comes to aftersales support, the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is on par for the premium segment these days. It also gets five years of roadside assistance.Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing is available for the first visits, with the total cost $3100, which averages out to $620 per visit – that’s reasonable for the premium segment.PHEV charging dilemmas and consequences…Time for a confession: I live in an apartment building, which is hardly the best place to live with a plug-in hybrid.Now, I’ve lived with several fully electric vehicles with no issue, as public DC fast chargers are increasingly available in inner-city Melbourne, where I reside.But plug-in hybrids are a different kettle of fish as public AC chargers are quickly being outnumbered. And the ones that do exist in my area, bar one, require you to bring your own Type 2 to Type 2 cable, which is a problem for me and the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 I have the keys to, because it didn’t come with one.To be fair, a 3 Pin to Type 2 cable was provided, but that’s only useful if you have access to a domestic power socket, which are few and far between in apartment building car parks like mine.Point being, I’ve only been able to plug in and charge the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s 15.5kWh battery on four occasions in my first month of ‘ownership’. And even then, the highest capacity I drove away with was 35 per cent, as a 7.4kW AC charger takes 2.5 hours to fully charge all of the cells and I don’t ever intend on taking that long to do my weekly shop.The upshot of this is I haven’t been able to take full advantage of the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s WLTP-rated 60.5km electric-only driving range, which you need if you’re going to come close to achieving its fuel consumption claim of 1.5L/100km on the combined-cycle test.That said, I have been taking advantage of one of the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s two e-Save modes, opting to use the internal-combustion engine (ICE) as a power generator for the battery. But I’ve primarily only done so when travelling at highway speeds to maximise efficiency, as the ICE would be running then anyway.As a result, I averaged 7.0L/100km over 958km driving in my first month (249km of which was electric-only), when I rarely ventured outside of the city limits. Again, that’s not a fair indication of what the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 is capable of, but it is indicative of the consequences of not consistently charging a plug-in hybrid’s battery the ‘right’ way.It’s worth nothing that if the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4 also supported DC fast charging, none of the above would be a problem, as I would be in same position as I would be in if it was a fully electric vehicle, but that’s currently not the case with many plug-in hybrids, which is a shame.The good news is, though, that Alfa Romeo Australia is kindly sending me a Type 2 to Type 2 cable so I can take advantage of more public AC chargers in my second and third months with the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4, so I look forward to reporting back with much better fuel consumption. Stay tuned. Speaking of which, in the next instalment of this long-term EV Guide review, I’m going to share my thoughts on the Tonale Veloce PHEV Q4’s stunning design and deep-dive its sub-par practicality. I’ll be saving my mixed driving impressions and overall verdict for the third part. Until next time! Acquired: March 1, 2024Distance travelled this month: 958kmOdometer: 3517kmAverage fuel consumption this month: 7.0L/100km
Toyota C-HR 2024 review
7.5/10
According to the chief engineer for the Toyota C-HR, a second generation was never guaranteed for this uncharacteristically (for Toyota) design-led small SUV.After the Corolla Cross came into existence, the top brass didn’t think the brand needed two similarly sized models in the line-up. So, why is it here, and is it any good?The first question is easy to answer - the team drew the new C-HR up as a European model, built in hybrid-only and with enough key differences from the Corolla Cross to avoid the models competing. The second question? Let’s find out.[read-more-default-title]Hybrid-only! Toyota Corolla, Yaris and Yaris Cross to ditch petrol, so say goodbye to the sub-$30K Toyota passenger carToyota suspends shipments of HiLux, LandCruiser and more after 'irregularities' found during engine testing - Toyota Australia seeking information on local impactToyota's mini monster! LandCruiser FJ name secured for Australia as RAV4 Hybrid-powered Suzuki Jimny rival prepares for launch
Mazda CX-60 2024 review: D50e GT Vision long-term | Part 3
6/10
This is it, the final instalment of our long-term test of the Mazda CX-60 D50e GT Vision. Yep, after three months and 2252km the Berry family is saying farewell to a family SUV which should be outstanding in every way… but isn’t. First, though, this month we’ve covered 917km with almost half of that spent on motorways heading up and down the coast, and the other half on suburban duties including the daily school runs and grocery shopping trips.Measuring diesel usage at the pump saw averaging 8.0L/100km which is close to the consumption from the previous two months but nowhere near the seemingly mythical 4.9L/100km Mazda’s specs sheet says we should see. Still, if this was a petrol-powered SUV and not diesel that figure would be close to 12L/100km.  [read-more-default-title]Mazda CX-60 2024 review: D50e GT Vision long-term | Part 1Mazda CX-60 2024 review: D50e GT Vision long-term | Part 2Just who is the 2023 Mazda CX-60 for? Mazda shares who is buying its first truly premium SUV, and who it would like to join the club in the future as it predicts strong supplySo, what is it about the Mazda CX-60 D50e GT that we felt could have been outstanding but wasn’t? Well, the ride comfort needs improving. We found that on Sydney’s roads the CX-60’s suspension is too firm and jostling for a family SUV. Then there’s the rough and jerky feeling transmission which Mazda has admitted could be better.  Cabin technology also disappoints with a beautifully expansive media display that promises so much interaction only for it to be rendered almost useless.That's because while the car is in motion the display's menu can only be accessed using a rotary dial which is so awkward and distracting it almost reduced me to tears.  There’s more. The gear shifter which won’t shift until it's ready, the wireless phone charger that can’t keep hold of your phone and no climate control in the second row nor sunshades for the windows.Really, at $70,550 we’d expect more - more comfort, more features and more things to work better. Servicing is also not cheap at about $3200 over five years. It’s not all bad. The CX-60 D50e GT looks superb, and the interior design is excellent with a very impressive fit and finish. This SUV is also practical for a small family with good storage, room for people and a decent sized boot.The inline six-cylinder diesel engine also feels strong and offers good acceleration, but a discovery that's we've only made in the past month is that the braked towing capacity of our diesel D50e is 500kg less than the petrol variants at 2000kg.Yes, the six-cylinder diesel variant can't tow as much the six-cylinder petrol versions nor the four-cylinder plug-in hybrid CX-60.But there is the good fuel efficiency thanks to this being a diesel engine and also having a mild-hybrid system.This SUV is also loaded with advanced safety technology and scores an outstanding 93 per cent for child occupant protection.Should have been outstanding, but wasn't.Acquired: November 2023Distance travelled this month: 917kmOdometer: 9136kmAverage fuel consumption this month: 8L/100km (measured at the pump)
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