With Alfa Romeo preparing to make its first ever foray into the SUV market with the Stelvio SUV, details of the product plan are starting to emerge, and Alfa’s shooting straight for the top.
That’s according to UK publication Autocar, which reports that, just like the Giulia medium sedan, Alfa Romeo intends to debut the Stelvio with a high-performance variant first.
To do that the Stelvio will utilise the 2.9 litre twin turbo V6 engine from the Giulia sedan. In the bigger, heavier Stelvio, however, the Giulia’s 380kW output is likely to be trimmed slightly, while torque will be boosted.
That also means that Alfa Romeo’s hallowed Quadrifolglio Verde badge may not appear on the Stelvio, reserved instead for vehicles with more purist appeal.
Unusually for a performance SUV, the top-spec Stelvio is also unlikely to be offered with all-wheel-drive, coming instead rear-wheel-drive only to minimise weight.
If that is the case, it gives the Stelvio a chance of offering a real dynamic difference when compared to its all-wheel-drive competitors.
And when it comes to competitors, the Stelvio is set to have a fight on its hands, arriving onto a market that already features The Porsche Macan Turbo, Audi SQ5, Jaguar F-Pace, and set to be joined by the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63.
The focus won’t remain at the top end of the market for long, with volume selling models powered by the same petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines as the Guila range, set to follow quickly.
Those variants will likely arrive with rear or all-wheel-drive, and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, but Australia’s preference for higher specification cars means that manual variants are less likely here.
The Stelvio, following hot on the heels of the Giulia, is set to turn the tide on Alfa Romeo’s declining sales, introducing the brand’s first ever SUV and allowing it access to that growth market – all the more crucial as Alfa Romeo makes its return to the North American market.
Alfa’s ageing product range is set for the biggest overhaul in recent history with a rumoured rear-wheel-drive compact set to slot in below the Giulia, along with a slew of new models outlined as part of Fiat Chrysler's now-delayed five-year plan.
Alfa Romeo first showed its SUV intentions with the Kamal concept of 2003, 13 years ago. The long gestation for the Stelvio won't have it surfacing until either this year’s LA Auto Show, or the Detroit Show in January.