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Los Angeles Auto Show 2016: Alfa Romeo reveals Stelvio crossover

15 November 2016 IHS Markit Automotive Expert

Alfa Romeo has released details and photographs of its new Stelvio mid-size crossover, which will be revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show (United States) later today (16 November).

IHS Markit Perspective

  • Significance: Alfa Romeo has revealed details and photographs of its new Stelvio mid-size crossover, which will be revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show (United States).
  • Implications: This is the second model to use the brand's Giorgio architecture, after the Giulia, and could well be a key vehicle in the Alfa Romeo line-up.
  • Outlook: While in Europe, Alfa is looking to revive its fortunes, the US launch is about reinventing and returning to the market, although creating this awareness could be steep climb.

Alfa Romeo has revealed details and photographs of its new mid-size crossover, which will be revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show later today (16 November). Stelvio will be the brand's second model underpinned by the automaker's Giorgio platform, which already forms the basis of the Giulia sedan, revealed earlier in 2016. Aluminium and composite materials in its construction help achieve an almost 50:50 weight distribution.

The rakish model will be available in three variants: the Stelvio, Stelvio Ti, and Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The Stelvio and Stelvio Ti will be powered by a 280 hp and 306 lb/ft of torque turbocharged gasoline (petrol) four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine in the US market, allied with an eight-speed automatic transmission, although 2.2-litre diesels are anticipated for Europe. As with the Giulia, the Quadrifoglio variant of the Stelvio will feature the automaker's gasoline twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V-6 engine producing 505 hp and 443 lb/ft of torque, which is combined with the same eight-speed automatic transmission. This version will also come with the Q4 four-wheel drive system and is capable of accelerating from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 177 mph.

In terms of technology content, all variants will receive the Alfa DNA Drive Mode system, which has three driver selectable modes: Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficiency. The Quadrifoglio has a fourth mode, Race, for the Alfa DNA Pro system. The Stelvio also gains Chassis Domain Control (CDC), which can co-ordinate the vehicle's driver systems where fitted, including stability control, torque vectoring differential, and the Alfa Active suspension system. Offered on the Ti and Quadrifoglio variant, this is a four-channel suspension system that can be adjusted by the driver via the DNA selector. Safety features include the integrated braking system (IBS), which replaces a traditional electronic stability control (ESC) and brake booster for a more instantaneous braking response, Full-speed Forward Collision Warning with autonomous braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Stop, Lane Departure Warning, Blind-spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross Path.

The interior specification's main features include either a 6.5-inch or 8.8-inch infotainment system that can show details of real-time vehicle performance, 3-D satellite navigation that recognises handwritten gestures on the rotary pad, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver also gains a Formula One (F1)-inspired steering wheel with aluminium column-mounted paddle shifters and a TFT cluster display between two large white-on-black face analogue gauges. While all variants gain leather seating, the Ti will add wood interior accents and the opportunity to add Sport and Lusso packages. In addition, the sporting Quadrifoglio gains high-performance leather and Alcantara front seats, featuring 12-way power and adjustable thigh support as standard, while as an option it will be offered with Sparco carbon-fibre racing seats.

Outlook and implications

This is the next model in a string of vehicles being developed by Alfa Romeo as part of the brand's revival strategy. It is also arguably more important that the Giulia sedan, given the still-growing popularity of premium D-segment crossovers and sport utility vehicles (SUV) versus the sluggishness of their conventional sedan counterparts, particularly in the markets Alfa Romeo is targeting with its recent offerings: Europe and North America.

While in Europe, Alfa is looking to revive its fortunes, the US launch is about reinventing and returning to the market. Alfa Romeo has been gone from the US market long enough for millennial buyers to have little or no awareness or understanding of the brand and few Gen X consumers will understand that history. For Alfa, this presents an interesting conundrum, as the company has a rich heritage to play on, but US buyers may not connect immediately with it. Based on a recent drive of the Giulia, the Stelvio will arrive with a sensuous exterior and the terrific driving dynamics Alfa has promised. On paper, and on the road, the brand is coming to the US market with the right products, in that they demonstrate its values exquisitely and are in the right segments for the premium market.

However, getting over the lack of awareness can be a steep climb. And even then, the market is quite crowded, so carving out a niche and proving a sustainable unique selling proposition remains difficult. In the United States, Alfa is looking to be the alternative to traditional luxury vehicles from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. But so are Cadillac, Lincoln, and Genesis, with each holding steady to historic values or creating new ones. It remains to be seen whether the Alfa proposition is different enough to make an impact: aside from more flowing, warm styling, the product offers little not easily found at Audi, BMW, Cadillac, and Mercedes-Benz, or even Lexus. Jaguar is starting to prove with the F-Pace that there is certainly an appetite for a more dynamic and stylish vehicle in the crossover space, but whether Alfa Romeo can achieve the same success with the Stelvio remains to be seen.

IHS Markit currently anticipates demand in the first year will support production at the Cassino (Italy) facility, expected to build 58,000 units. We will be watching closely to see whether this level is sustainable or can even be improved on in the following years.

About this article

The above article is from IHS Automotive Same-Day Analysis of automotive news, events and trends, and is a deliverable of the World Markets Automotive Service. The service averages thirty stories per day and also provides competitor and country intelligence. Get a free trial.

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