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Update on Alfa Romeo's first SUV

By raccars Published

Alfa Romeo logo

Alfa Romeo has revealed new details about its upcoming SUV, expected to be named the 'Stelvio'.

Like Maserati with the Levante, this Italian SUV is a new step for its manufacturer and is expected to arrive in high performance format, powered by Alfa Romeo's punchy V6. The car is due to reach the market next year.

The decision to kick off with the halo model follows the same approach as the release of the much-awaited Giulia compact executive model, which shares a number of components with the SUV. By prioritising the high performance model, Alfa Romeo is demonstrating huge confidence in the Stelvio's ability to take on fast SUVs by Jaguar, BMW and Porsche, among others.

The chic and sporty SUV

This has been an important project for Alfa's engineers, who were apparently directed to aim for best-in-class driving dynamics, combining sharp handling with full-on speed. This corporate strategy is to be extended to the whole Stelvio line up in a bid to set it apart from other Fiat Chrysler brands' SUVs, such as Jeep.

Giulia Quadrifoglio V6

The 2.9 litre V6 petrol engine used by the Giulia Quadrifoglio will power the hot Stelvio, an engine which Alfa Romeo claims is based upon Ferrari's V8 turbo unit. It gets the Giulia from 0-62mph in an astonishing 3.9 seconds but is likely to be re-tuned for a focus on torque rather than straight line speed when used in the SUV.

As yet, it is unclear whether this high performance Stelvio will wear the Quadrifoglio badge, but along with the engine, it will use the same eight speed automatic gearbox as the top of the range Giulia. Although the SUV will be offered in all wheel drive and rear wheel drive layouts, this high performance version will probably remain a rear wheel drive to increase agility and to reduce weight.

While petrol and diesel models will be at the heart of the model line-up, Fiat Chrysler is aiming to have a plug-in hybrid powertrain available by the end of the year, which could be used in the Stelvio. Nonetheless a 2.2 litre diesel unit is expected to form the mainstay of UK sales, available with 150bhp, 180bhp and 210bhp. The 2.0 litre petrol models will come in 200bhp, 250bhp and 280bhp variants. Entry-level models are expected to be priced from £40,000.

The high performance Stelvio looks more than capable of competing with the likes of the Audi RS Q3 Performance, which reaches 62mph in 4.4 seconds and the Porsche Macan Turbo, which takes 4.8 seconds to get to 62mph. However with prices expected to start at about £65,000, it's also more expensive than both of them at £50,000 and £62,000 respectively.

The Macan and the new Jaguar F-Pace SUV are said to be the benchmarks against which Alfa is measuring the Stelvio, with former Ferrari technical director Roberto Fedeli in charge of development. He moved to Fiat Chrysler earlier this year from the BMW M division, after a career which included the engineering of the Ferraris 458 Italia, F12 Berlinetta and the LaFerrari. That's a pretty serious sporting pedigree and bodes well for the Stelvio.

The Stelvio Pass

The Stelvio name has yet to be confirmed but is said to be the favourite from a shortlist of three. It refers to an Alpine mountain pass of the same name in north Italy which is considered to be one of the world's most challenging driving routes. This choice of name works as a statement of intent, showing the importance Alfa Romeo is placing on sparkling driving dynamics for the SUV.

Although few official details have been released at this stage, the Stelvio has been spotted out testing in heavy disguise. The SUV is expected to follow Alfa's current design language and seat five adults in comfort, despite a sporty, sloping coupe-esque roofline.

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