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Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV

By raccars Published

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What do you think of the new Alfa Romeo's name, the 'Stelvio'?

Alfa Romeo is playing catch-up in the hottest automotive trend of the past decade with its first SUV. This has been spotted out testing in Italy, and will be named the 'Stelvio'. With the release too of Alfa Romeo's much anticipated new rival to the BMW 3 Series, the Giulia, 2016 is going to be a big year for the Italian firm.

Stelvio caught out testing

Spy shots show that development is proceeding on the SUV. Whilst a disguise concealed much of the Stelvio's fine detailing, a curvy silhouette and some distinctive Alfa characteristics are discernible, such as the Scudetto design front grille.

Alfa Romeo is known for making absolutely beautiful cars, so the lumpy black cloak used to hide the SUV's form is rather off-putting, however a sloping, coupe-esque roofline looks interesting and could confirm the rumoured co-development with the Maserati Levante.

As part of the Fiat Chrysler Group, the Stelvio team has access to Jeep's components and a wealth of experience in building SUVs, although its engines and transmissions will be unique to Alfa Romeo. With Jeep, Fiat and Alfa Romeo, FCA is covering most SUV industry requirements: rugged off roaders from Jeep; medium range all-rounders with Fiat; and sporty performance from Alfa Romeo.

Is it a mountain pass or a cheese?

During the lengthy development process, the SUV has been known as the Tipo 949 D, but the Stelvio name was announced earlier in the year and is said to be taken from an Italian mountain pass leading to Austria. This is considered to be one of the most interesting and thrilling drives in the world with more than 40 hairpin bends to negotiate.

While this may be a natural habitat for Alfa's cheeky little sports cars, it may not be ideal territory for your average SUV, and so the use of this name hints at the Stelvio's sporting ambitions. The same name has already been used in Italy for a National Park, a cheese, a composer and a motorbike by Moto Guzzi.

Alfa Romeo plans range expansion

Alfa Romeo's brief for its SUV included a strict requirement for some off-road ability, but the main focus was on class-leading on-road driving dynamics. The new platform which is to underpin the Giulia has been modified for use on the Stelvio and is capable of accepting rear and all-wheel drive formats.

The Stelvio will be fitted with the Giulia's petrol and diesel engines in four cylinder and V6 variants, while there will also be a range-topping Quadrifoglio Verde model, which will use the equivalent Giulia model's 2.9 litre twin turbo V6.

The same platform has been designed to offer Alfa Romeo a base for up to eight models within the next couple of years, but the Italian company doesn't appear to be sticking to that schedule. For the moment, all its efforts are focused upon the Giulia and on getting the Stelvio on the road during the second half of next year. But the planned seven seat large SUV, a BMW5 Series -rivalling luxury sports saloon, a new sports car and replacements for the Mito and Giulietta are still slated for future development.

The Giulia's development has been plagued by delays but the SUV looks to be proceeding well, so hopefully a final production version will be introduced by the end of the year. The medium-sized, performance-focused Stelvio is likely to go up against the BMW X3 and the Porsche Macan, particularly in the high performance variant and, as such, prices are likely to reflect that ambition.

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