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2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: 510 horsepower crossover

by Aldo Martin

Alfa Romeo revealed its new Stelvio CUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show, choosing the top Quadrifoglio trim for the reveal. The performance crossover has a more athletic stance than the lower trim levels - Stelvio and Stelvio Ti.

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The Stelvio leverages a design language popularized by the Giulietta hatchback and expanded by the Giulia sedan. It looks well integrated and unmistakably Alfa Romeo, with design cues and proportions reminiscent of the Giulietta hatchback, despite its higher stance. The Stelvio sports horizontal headlights and tail lights similar to those found on the Giulia sedan, with the familiar V-shaped grille breaking up the front end.

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The rich candy-apple-red display vehicle garnered plenty of attention from the world press. Being on an elevated turntable made difficult to judge the exact height of the vehicle, but appears to be a true CUV in that it is in between a car and SUV in terms of height.

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The Quadrafoglio on display had what looked like 20-inch wheels on low profile tires, and large red brake calipers with prominent Alfa Romeo logos. The interior looks cozy for four adults; the dashboard materials look upscale with an abundance of stitching, and round instrument pods and air vents.

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Though the Levante and Stelvio are both new FCA crossovers, the Levante is based on the Maserati Ghibli/Quattroporte architecture and the Stelvio is based on the Giulia architecture.

The Stelvio and Maserati Levante have similar rear window, three-quarter panel, and c-pillar treatments, but the Levante looks decidedly longer, especially ahead of the A-pillar. The Alfa Romeo looks cleaner and tidier in appearance, with a good combination of creases, sharp and rounded edges, giving the Stelvio an attractive "shrinkwrap" look.

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The other Stelvios

The Stelvio and Stelvio Ti use an aluminum 2-liter direct injection turbo four cylinder, from the corporate GME family that will also yield the Hurricane four-cylinder. In the Stelvio, it yields 280 hp and 306 pound-feet of torque. Every Stelvio comes with user-selectable drive modes, a carbon fiber driveshaft, 18 inch or larger wheels, heated leather front seats, a backup camera, remote start, and passive entry/pushbutton starter. The "Q4" all-wheel-drive system, standard on all Stelvios, can bring up to 60% of torque to the front axle. The Ti adds 19-inch wheels, front parking sensors, real wood accents, and an 8.8 inch screen. There are luxury and sports packages which add to the trim and features.

What the Stelvio means for Alfa Romeo and other premium auto brands

Nontraditional crossover makers, including those still developing one, include Porsche, Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley.

For decades, premium automakers have been defined by their senior sedans, which gave them the road presence and brand prestige they needed to justify a price premium. But as buyers increasingly shift from sedans to CUVs, premium brands have found themselves developing and marketing premium sedans, only to end up sitting on dealer lots. Nevertheless, the four basic ingredients that drove brand prestige in the past haven't changed: (1) superior craftsmanship, (2) superior performance, (3) elegant design, and (4) luxurious and innovative comfort creatures.

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We will have to wait to see how Stelvio performs on the road and in the market, but at first glance Alfa Romeo seems to have found a way to combine all of these ingredients into a vehicle that credibly strikes that subtle, elusive balance between a premium CUV and a sports sedan. As Alfa Romeo is redefining itself, Stelvio appears to provide the means to tie a rich car heritage with its recent past to forge a future.

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What we know from Alfa Romeo itself

by the staff

Named after a mountain pass in the Alps, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is based on a new architecture, reportedly a joint FCA (US-Italy) development expected to make its way to Dodge in around two years. The first car built on this was the Giulia.

Built in Cassino, Italy, the Stelvio will hit dealers in 2017, and is expected to be responsible for a large part of the brand's sales. Engines are similar to those of the Giulia, with the top Quadrifoglio model packing a Ferrari 2.9 liter twin-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, dropping 0-60 times down to a Corvette-like 3.9 seconds. To save fuel, the V6 can turn into a three-cylinder at will.

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Other Stelvios (base, Ti) have a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0 liter four-cylinder, good for 280 hp and 306 pound-feet of torque; most likely, a variant of this engine will be used for Jeep and Dodge. Regardless of engine, the crossover is all wheel drive, with a torque vectoring differential for higher traction; the system can send up to 60% of torque to the front axle.

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Above: Stelvio. Below: Giulia. Despite the different perspectives, you can see the interior is very similar.

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The interior is mainly (and not surprisingly) similar to that of the Giulia, including the driving dynamics knob and dial-driven telematics. Alfa Romeo did not give out any prices, but they are likely to be much higher than the eventual RWD Dodge Journey replacement.

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