WE’VE sprung the world’s first-ever Alfa Romeo SUV testing in Italy, and while it is still wearing plenty of ugly body concealing cladding, it’s not enough to fully hide the curvaceous shape lurking beneath.
The Audi Q5-sized medium SUV (also known by its Tipo 959 codename), will wear an Alfa Romeo Stelvio badge, and is likely to be unveiled late this year. As it is set to help spearhead the brand’s North American market return after three decades away, pundits are predicting the Los Angeles Auto Show in November as the most likely venue for a premiere, although a month earlier at Paris isn’t out of the question.
Don’t be fooled by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta coupe-like silhouette, because below the rakish surface is the Fiat Group’s all-new Giorgio longitudinal architecture that also underpins the upcoming Giulia mid-size sedan.
This is an exciting development for driving fans, because the platform co-development with Maserati hints at a proper sports car focus to the Stelvio’s dynamic capabilities. It also means that even entry level models will adopt a rear-drive platform that promises to live up to the marque’s reputation. There will be all-wheel-drive versions as well.
The choice of petrol engines is likely to run to a 2.0-litre in-line four-pot turbo and a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 (engineered with Ferrari for the Quadrifoglio Verde flagship). Diesels, meanwhile, are believed to be either a 2.2-litre four-cylinder or a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. Most will deliver their power through an eight-speed automatic, though we’d be very pleased to see the six-speed manual land in Australia.
Expect the Alfa Romeo’s price to shadow that of the BMW X3 when it arrives in 2017, ranging from a low-$60,000 for the 2.0-litre turbo, and stretching to almost $100,000 for the Quadrifoglio Verde.
The Stelvio will be the first of three SUVs that Alfa Romeo is believed to be planning for about 2020, and will be built alongside the Alfa Romeo Giulia in Cassino, Italy.
A smaller rear/all-wheel drive compact SUV will be based on the next-generation Giulietta, while a stretched seven-seat version will spin off the Tipo 959 platform to give the Audi Q7 some serious competition.
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