We might still be waiting on Alfa Romeo's release of the Giulia, but it's clear the Italian brand is now pushing ahead with development on its first SUV. It's been spotted for the first time ahead of its expected release in early 2017.
There's heavy disguise on this prototype, but there's tell-tale signs to give it away as an Alfa Romeo including the iconic 'Scudetto' grille design and curvy shape. The shape appears pretty faithful to our exclusive image, with a coupe-like rear roofline disguised by some boxy cladding.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Sergio Marchionne finally christened the SUV earlier this year. Code-named the Tipo 949 D-SUV, the Stelvio name is in homage of the famous mountain pass that links Italy to southern Austria. Alternatively, Stelvio is also the name of a popular Italian cheese, an Italian National Park and a composer.
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It won’t be the only Stelvio on sale in the internal-combustion world, because there’s also a Moto Guzzi bike with the same name.
Marchionne also used the visit to the Stabilimento Fiat di Cassino plant to confirm the Giulia would finally start production there on March 14.
Alfa has been insistent throughout the SUV’s development that while it would be a competent SUV, it would focus on being best-in-class in on-road ability, and the Stelvio name is a strong hint that Alfa is pleased with what it’s finishing up with.
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It will use a slight variation of the Giulia’s all-new architecture, designed by Alfa Romeo engineers tucked away inside Maserati’s headquarters. Designed for both rear- and all-wheel drive powertrains, the architecture gives Alfa the ability to fit the Stelvio with a range of four-cylinder and V6 petrol and diesel engines.
There will also be a Quadrifoglio Verde version, boasting the same twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine as the similarly named Giulia flagship.
While there were plans for Alfa to deliver eight cars off the same architecture by 2018, those plans have been pushed back until 2020, though sources at Alfa insist the company has not started development work on any of the other promised models.
The original plan called for a larger, seven-seat Tipo 962 C-SUV, a full-sized sports-luxury sedan code-named Tipo 941, along with Spider and Coupe versions of the Tipo 963 sports car. Replacements for the front-drive Giulietta and the MiTo hatches would flesh out the model lineup to eight cars.
The italian brand recently confirmed plans to delay the launch of its first ever SUV – relaying the news via an investor presentation in Italy.
Among the various slides were details of improved Jeep sales and a new plan detailing specific region requirements. However, in addition, it confirmed R&D, manufacturing and product investment would be reduced through 2018.
As a result, the planned product line-up will be completed by mid-2020 instead of by 2018 as mooted in earlier discussions. The SUV will still land by the end of 2017, though, with six other models following after.
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These include a BMW 5 Series-style executive saloon and two further sports utility vehicles - most likely a smaller and a larger model to join the ‘mid-size’ BMW X3 rival after 2018. Two more ’speciality’ models, presumably sports cars, will complete the line-up alongside a rear-wheel drive Giulietta replacement before the end of the decade.
All this follows a photo published earlier this year, whereby FCA's design boss Ralph Gilles subtly teased the new SUV, with fellow designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti sat in the boot.
Behind Ramaciotti you could see the dashboard design, which is entirely different from other Fiat or Chrysler products and looks to be inspired by the Giulia. The boot shape is also new, while a flat floor can be seen underneath. Our rendering shows the possible exterior design.
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Like the saloon, we’d expect the SUV to feature a 2.2-litre diesel engine – recent leaked documents have suggested it’ll be available in the Giulia with 150 180 or 210bhp. A new GME (Global Medium Engine) 2.0-litre petrol unit producing either 200bhp, 250bhp or 280bhp is also likely to feature in both models, while eventually we may even see a hot version of the SUV using the twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 from the launch Giulia with up to 500bhp.
In addition to the powerful petrol and diesel engines, FCA look to be investigating battery and electric technologies. The presentation detailing plans for the upcoming range expansion also talked of mild hybrids, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-ins and pure EVs. All the above would contribute to Fiat Chrysler’s plan for ‘globally optimised CO2 compliance’.
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