At the 2016 Los Angeles Motor Show, Alfa Romeo has officially revealed their all-new and first-ever SUV to the world, the Stelvio, which they debuted in its quickest Quadrifoglio guise, just as they did with the Giulia sedan back in mid-2015.
Naturally, more sedate versions are on the way and will likely reach the market first, a timeframe that Alfa CEO Reid Bigland says should fall to Q3 2017, starting with right-hand drive units with diesel engines. Before long, though, they expect it to overtake the Giulia as their best-selling model.
That should be followed swiftly by the rollout of this shapely Stelvio QV, with its luscious red exterior and an all-aluminium 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 shared with Giulia QV under its bonnet. The Ferrari co-developed motor is good for 375kW and 600Nm in the sedan that should carry over as more than adequate oomph.
A claimed century sprint time of 3.9 seconds was mentioned during the presentation and so was an assertion that it will be the fastest SUV around the Nurburgring, even rivalling the lap time of one of the fastest sedans of the moment, the second-generation Porsche Panamera Turbo’s 7 minutes and 56 seconds.
Unlike the Giulia, and much like its close rival the Jaguar F-Pace, the Stelvio’s initial engine range will be sending power via a permanent all-wheel drive system to both axles. Under normal conditions, Alfa Romeo says that 100 percent of torque gets sent to the rear, but can be shuffled by up to 50 percent to the front and side to side via torque vectoring.
Later in its life cycle, though, a less expensive rear-drive version will also be available as an entry-level offering. Alfa Romeo is positioning their cars class-leaders in driving dynamics, hinging the unique thrill of the drive to sway customers to their fold.
"The Stelvio is uniquely engineered to challenge two door cars on the track without compromising the SUV side of its character," said Bigland. "We have leveraged Ferrari to help deliver class-leading power and it will also come with Alfa Romeo’s Q4 all-wheel drive system.
It’s a sound plan and differentiation strategy, one that’s been associated in varying degrees with the Italian marque over the years. In that span, however, other manufacturers have evolved in a similar direction to embody similar values.
Competitors such as the Porsche Macan and, again, the Jaguar F-Pace do offer a similar overall package to buyers. Hopefully, Alfa Romeo can pair their strategy of doubling down on handling with a level of style and panache other contenders can’t match.
Aside from the range-topping QV, the Stelvio range will also include grades that mirror to the Giulia: Stelvio Super, followed by the Technica, Speciale, and Veloce. There will be a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 206kW/400Nm as well as a diesel unit with 154kW.
Inside, the Stelvio’s interior looks very similar to that of the Giulia upon which it’s based, with lashing of leather and red stitching wrapped around stacked dashboard with a slightly recessed wide touchscreen infotainment display.
In fact, the overall similar exterior styling that more than merely resembles the Giulia is an unmissable parallel. It’s gives us a glimpse at what a possible Giulia hatch might look like if it were squashed lower to the ground.