New SUV key to Alfa Romeo’s U.S. return

New Alfa SUV will likely be styled after 2003’s Kamal Concept

New Alfa SUV will likely be styled after 2003’s Kamal Concept

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The Fiat Group has set a goal of achieving profitability for Alfa Romeo, and to do that, says Alfa CEO Luca de Meo, the marque will need to increase its sales volume. With a goal of 300,000 vehicles per year by 2010, there are several steps being taken to help ensure it is met. Around the same time, Alfa has plans to introduce of a new SUV to further bolster its sales upon its return to the U.S., which is in the early stages of taking place.

The Italian carmaker first hinted at the possibility of an SUV when it revealed the Kamal Concept back at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, however development didn’t really start in earnest until it was confirmed Alfa would return to North America. Choosing to build an SUV, even in America, after seeing the bottom fall out of the market may seem an odd choice, but de Meo thinks it's necessary.

"It is true that sales of these cars have plummeted in the U.S., [but] these tall cars are the most appropriate for that market. Even if only because in traffic in a saloon, you feel surrounded by monsters," de Meo said, according to Elmundo. There is also a perception at the company that it must at least offer an SUV to be taken seriously in the U.S., even by buyers not personally interested in the tall and fuel-thirsty vehicles.

There are also plans to introduce engine stop-start technology next year and eventually hybrid systems borrowed from parent company Fiat. These technologies could help improve efficiency to the point that the SUV wouldn't pay a heavy penalty for its size, though the Kamal-derived vehicle won't be a full-size SUV.

This rendering shows that Alfa’s new SUV will likely be styled along the lines of the original Kamal Concept and it’s thought the car could be released in both three and five-door variants. The underpinnings for both vehicles is expected to be based on a revised version of the platform used for the 159 sedan, which means a range of four and six-cylinder engines will likely make the cut. A flagship model will run Alfa’s familiar 3.2L 24V V6 but with several unique elements to achieve a 250hp (186kW) output. Other models will include a smaller 2.2L petrol version as well as a highly efficient five-cylinder turbodiesel with 295lb-ft (400Nm) on tap.

Alfa’s new SUV will have a lot of competition when it arrives at the end of the decade. Both Mercedes-Benz and Audi have already revealed their respective GLK and Q5 compact SUVs and Volkswagen and BMW also have their own Tiguan and X3 models to contend with.
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Comments (21)
  1. oh great.. just on time for no one to care at all. If it isn't a crossover, it's a huge mistake.

  2. Could have potential if done right...

  3. The car in the picture looks more like a BMW with Alfa nose. Where is Alfa's latin charm?

  4. Four years too late. Screw an SUV, bring the Brera over here and then we'll talk.

  5. When the Mini came back, did it need a SUV model to boost sales. I am tired of all of the SUVs. give me a good sporty, hatch with great lines.

  6. It will be interesting to see how this strategy develops.

  7. They are SOOOOO off the mark!!! The "monsters" mentioned should be replaced by "dinosaurs". They will become extinct or evolve into smaller, lighter and more efficient vehicles. Alfa is a sporting brand. Bring us hot hatches and sports cars and sports sedans. NO SUVS!!! STOP THE MADNESS ALREADY!!!

  8. Maybe small SUVs with DI inline 4's and V6's for gas models, throw in some diesels, should be fine, but if I buy an Alfa, it would be one of their stylish hatches with a diesel engine.

  9. "a highly efficient five-cylinder turbodiesel with 295lb-ft (400Nm) on tap" Sounds like a great engine, I would buy it in a stylish vehicle like the Brera with awd.

  10. Ahhhhhhh!
    And here I thought Luca de Meo really got it. I love Alfas and can't wait for their return to the US, but I tend to agree with most of the posters here.

    But on the other hand (taking NoNameDenton's point) - could a small, hgih performance SUV do for Alfa in the US what the Cayenne did for Porsche?
    I wonder.....

  11. Alfa Romeo Brera 2.4 JTDm
    I5 2.4L diesel, variable geometry turbo, common-rail direct injection, intercooler
    Max output: 209PS @ 4000rpm
    Max torque: 400Nm @ 1500rpm
    0-100km/h: 7,9s
    1000m from standstill: 28,4s

    NoNameDenton, that car costs 37.290 euros in Spain: And the Spider (convertible version of the Brera) starts at 39.150 euros also in Spain:

  12. Jim- your probably right!

    Americans do not buy hot hatches in enough numbers to make money. This strategy will work and work well because Americans buy SUV's.

    I understand you all hate the Cayenne but clearly the people with money love it and thats all Porsche cares about.

    The car industry knows one thing about car enthusiast! The majority of them are broke or the car they lust after is at the end of the dayis just to impratical to take up space in the garage. That my friends just does not earn enough pofit to stay in business.

    For instance Porsche would not be where it is today without the Cayenne, period!

  13. I would really like to see the market research for these European companies that seem to think that SUV's still hold a huge market share in US new car sales. They have missed the mark by 2-5 years. Look when even Toyota gets in trouble over here because they can't dump their trucks and SUV's its over, they're not being bought anymore they're being traded in and are worth more in scrap metal now then as functioning cars. On top of that this companies knows nothing about SUV's so how they going to compete with the American manufacturers who are kings at creating the larger ones and the likes of Toyota, BMW etc. who have the small-midsize SUV market locked up. These are called BARRIERS TO ENTRY! And frankly these are some tough ones to over come, plus if they've picked up a paper recently they'll know that the economy is hurting way too bad to reach that sales figure of 300k (even thats world-wide I'd still be surprised if they hit because their American est. must be way off).

  14. NaBUru38, you need to translate that to American numbers for me, I would do it myself, but I do not care enough.

  15. Alfa Romeo should be concentrating on bringing cars like the MiTo here and the successor to the 159, not some SUV that will have very little if no impact here in the US.

    If Alfa Romeo pursues this course, it will be to their own peril and their exit from the states (due to poor sales as a result of model offerings) will be quicker than it took them to get back here and sell cars. I hope they change their minds about this SUV thing....

  16. Alfa can not stand on its own, they will need to partner with someone else. An alfa SUV? thats like a Hummer sports car.

  17. The Mito will probably not come to America.

  18. So here's the thing guys. All of us car aficionados agree an Alfa SUV to open the doors of the US market is like using a chainsaw for brain surgery.

    And we're all a bunch of amateurs, just people that like cars.

    You'd think car companies and their officers would know better. Apparently Luca doesn't.

    So Alfa may try to reenter the US market with the ugly thing up there and when (not if) they fail we will not be able to see sexy Breras and perky Mitos on our streets.

    Spez de coccu...

  19. alfa really needs to keep up with changing times
    suv's are done in america
    bring the!!!!!!!!!!

  20. NoNameDenton, you could have searched the conversions.

    Brera 2.4 JTDm
    Max output: 209PS (206hp) @ 4000rpm
    Max torque: 400Nm (295 lbft) @ 1500rpm

    As Alex suggests in this article, this Alfa soft-roader should be sized close to the Q5, XC60 and GLK (ie under 4600mm / 180in long). I think it's not a bad idea, as long as it remains designed for on-road use. You Americans wouldn't even give a look at the old 147, you'd better keep your hopes high for its replacement and the Mito.

  21. I don't wanna do it, I am a lazy American

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