Alfa Romeo’s first ever SUV will be called the Stelvio. The name is borrowed from a small town located in the Alps of northern Italy, close to the border with Switzerland, though it’s more commonly known because of the nearby Stelvio Pass. This famous stretch of winding road is considered one of the best driving roads in the world because of its fast switchbacks and elevation changes combined with beautiful scenery, though it’s often clogged with traffic.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the Stelvio name for the Alfa Romeo SUV during a recent meeting with staff at the Fiat Cassino Plant in southern Italy, Auto Express reports. At the meeting, Marchionne is said to have also confirmed that production of the Stelvio will start in the final quarter of 2016.
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This means we’re likely to see a reveal at one of the major auto shows in the second half of the year, most likely the 2016 Paris Auto Show in October. Expect sales to start in the United States in the summer of 2017, which would make it a 2018 model. The vehicle was originally due here in the fourth quarter of 2016 or early 2017 but like the Giulia small sedan, the first model in Alfa Romeo's brand renaissance, it has suffered from delays.
Pictured above is a test mule for the Stelvio, with the new mechanicals hidden beneath the makeshift body of a Fiat 500L. Though it’s yet to be confirmed, the platform is likely to be a modified version of the rear-wheel-drive platform debuting in the Giulia. Both rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations are expected.
The Stelvio will be a small SUV targeting the likes of the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. According to FCA's latest plan for Alfa Romeo, it will be joined by two additional SUVs, a compact and a mid-sizer. Other models in the brand renaissance will include a mid-size sedan, a rear-wheel-drive replacement for the Giulietta compact, and two "specialty" cars.