alfa-romeo Little by little, Sergio Marchionne rebuilds a brand he himself destroyed, like a capricious child who broke his toy and wanted to repair it. Now, Alfa Romeo must offer a range worthy of its prestige, but which also meets the new expectations of customers who may be ready to return to the dealerships. The Giulia, introduced in 2015, is convincing, but it fights on a market (that of premium family sedans) in real decline and monopolized by the Germans. The new beginning, the real one, is the Stelvio who embodies it. And especially the end of a long wait, 14 years after the Kamal promise.
14 years of waiting that was worth it
It was in 2002 at the Geneva Motor Show. Alfa Romeo, then in full commercial form (it was the 147/156 era), offered the Kamal, his vision of an SUV bearing the Biscione logo. A concept car that really seduced at the time, and which could lead us to believe that an arrival in the range was possible around 2006/2007. Yes, but in 2004, Sergio Marchionne arrived, and we now know that man has scrapped many projects for Alfa, but also for Fiat and Lancia. We know the rest: there will never be an SUV, and the brand will gradually be abandoned, until it falls below 80,000 annual sales, just represented by 2 aging models (the MiTo and the Giulietta).
In 2013, the stingy boss of what became the FCA group (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) finally got his hands on the wallet for the creation of a new Alfa Romeo range. La Giulia opened the ball in 2015 and has been praised by the press, but less by customers: sales are struggling to take off for the moment. Admittedly, Audi/BMW/Mercedes sedans are almost alone in the world in this market, and Alfa’s legitimacy in this segment is no longer as obvious as in the past. In fact, the real chance for the Italian brand to emerge is in the SUV category. The only category where everyone can succeed today, from Dacia to Bentley!
Last November, at the Los Angeles show, Alfa unveiled its “Messiah”, named Stelvio. This D-segment SUV is named after the highest road pass in Italy (2,758 metres). A vehicle on which all the hopes of the Italian brand are based, and which is doomed to success.
It would be quick to summarize the Stelvio as a Giulia 5-door elevated. Certainly, many elements are common, starting with the Giorgio platform and the engines. Certainly, the dashboards are close. Certainly, many style effects are used on both. However, as soon as you see the two cars next to each other, there is no more confusion. By the size of the two vehicles: the Stelvio is higher, wider, more massive. By the plunging front face of the Giulia and the imposing Stelvio (the size of the trilobo is impressive). And despite appearances, the headlights are not the same.
So Stelvio made us wait 14 years, but it was worth it. Its design is simple and sensual, as must be all Italian. The manufacturing quality should be the same as on the Giulia, i.e. very correct. The engine range is modern, from the 2.0L turbo petrol 4-cylinder block (200 or 280 hp) to the 2.2L JTDm diesel 4-cylinder block (180 or 210 hp). It should be noted that the Stelvio does not include the 136 and 150 hp diesel versions of the Giulia. But it keeps the fabulous 2.9L twin-turbo 510 hp V6 engine concocted by Ferrari! Intended for the Quadrifoglio version, this block will allow him to go show off among the powerful German and English. The weight distribution has been particularly careful: 50% on the front 50% on the rear.
In its press release, Alfa Romeo stated that the technology should not be too intrusive, but it is indeed present on the Stelvio, here is a small list:
– Exclusive double wishbone front suspension (AlfaLink), allowing more efficiency during corner acceleration. Exclusive rear suspension also patented by Alfa Romeo.
– Non-permanent all-wheel drive Q4 with Torque Vectoring: torque distribution control on both axles, switching the Stelvio from single drive to 4×4 using an active transfer case. As an option, it is possible to opt for a mechanical self-locking rear differential to favour torque on the right or left wheel depending on the best grip.
As an option, it is possible to opt for a mechanical self-locking rear differential to favour torque on the right or left wheel depending on the best grip.
-IBS (Integrated Braking System) system: the brake booster is supported by the stability control system to improve ABS efficiency and reduce vibration during emergency braking.