Only time will tell whether the Alfa Romeo Tonale is a step up in engineering quality
Alfa Romeo promised big improvements to quality with the Tonale SUV – does it deliver?
The thing with quality is that it doesn’t mean the same thing to all of us. To the layman, things like solidity and switch action are what defines quality, but in business and to engineers, what matters is building the same thing to the same standard every time.
And when it comes to the Alfa Romeo Tonale and the company’s promises for it, we’re talking the second sense. Managers and engineers talk about putting the right people on the right production lines and being given the right tools and processes to make sure that electrics connectors are installed the correct way every time, with hidden components more costly and reliable than those that have gone before, so that the foibles that have bugged previous Alfas are removed.
And when its cars start scoring higher in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys, as Peugeots have, thanks to deliberate attention in these areas, bosses will rightly conclude that the quality battle has been won.
However, that isn’t something that potential customers can feel straight away. And when it comes to the first, perceived kind of quality, the Tonale is competitive. But if you were doing a back-to-back prod-and-look test against some of its rivals, it doesn’t feel yards apart from other Alfas – and not further on than alternative SUVs.
The quality situation might have been dramatically improved, but it will be a while before we know for sure.