No, alfa romeo making the stelvio suv is a good thing
You may have already seen my breathless ramblings about Jaguar’s appearances at the LA Auto Show, but what about everyone else?
It was my first time at the show, and having attending Geneva and Paris earlier this year I was surprised by the small size of LA. Not what I was expecting from a trip to America.
It took a little while to get past the masses (and masses) of enormous trucks on display, making even a Range Rover look tiny. But there were some interesting highlights, and one in particular fits the Drive Forward agenda to a tee.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a sports utility vehicle. A four-by-four. An off-roader, even. But leave the SUV connotations at the door and just look at it. No matter how tall it is, the Stelvio is a gorgeous car. It of course helps that Alfa chose to present it in its flagship Quadrifoglio spec (that’s four-leaf clover, by the way, Alfa’s answer to GTI, S-Line and RS), but nonetheless it looked fabulous.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Alfa’s three-pronged resurgence which began with the 4C sports car and continued into the Gulia saloon should next visit the SUV, because that product class is far-and-away the most popular among buyers. Just look at the success Porsche has had with the Cayman and Macan, Jaguar with the F-Pace (currently its best-selling car), and how even Rolls-Royce is preparing to enter the market. SUVs (or high-riding vehicles if you’re Rolls) are hugely popular and here to stay.
So anyway, the Stelvio. Named after Italy’s most famous Alpine pass, the car looks stunning and in four-leaf clover guise is powered by a turbocharged V6 engined related to the V8 used too great acclaim by Ferrari in the California T and 488. The big Alfa also comes with carbon-ceramic brakes, a flappy-paddle sequential gearbox which can shift cogs in 150 milliseconds, a 0-60mph time of under four seconds, and a traction control system with ‘Race’ mode.
Fully laden, the Stelvio shown in LA will likely be knocking on the door of £100,000 when it goes on sale in 2017, but further down the ladder there will be more wallet-friend petrol and diesel-powered Stelvios to compete with entry-level Macans and F-Paces.
An SUV appearing in the Alfa Romero catalogue might take some getting used to, but if the Stelvio can achieve just sliver of the Porsche Cayene’s success, then it will put a once-beleaguered company in a healthy position to create cars more in keeping with Alfa’s heritage. But this time without the dodgy reliability.
I really think Alfa Romeo is in a better position than it has been for years. The 4C’s performance failed to match its stunning looks, but early road tests suggest the Guilia fixes this, and if the momentum can continue than the Stelvio could do the same again.
With sports car, saloon and SUV boxes ticked, can we look forward to a couple or even a hatchback in the coming years? I’ve always hoped so, but for the first time in over a decade I now really believe so.