We spy evidence that Alfa Romeo is indeed still alive and not just pranking everyone.
The Germans are a very practical people, and this is exemplified perfectly in their cars. Automakers like Mercedes and BMW don't only make great cars with engineering up the wazoo, but the companies make business moves with the efficiency and precision of an Olympic archer. Mercedes has hit the market with a slew of SUVs, AMGs, and niche cars not just because they are cool, but because they make loads of cash for the brand. These bold moves have helped to keep the Germans on top of the luxury car segment for decades.
Meanwhile, the Italians remain unswayed by any of this and are still doing things their own way. Not too long ago, Alfa Romeo decided to try and reenter the US market. They did this by doing the exact opposite of what the Germans have done; introducing the low-volume car first in style a-la-Tesla and saving the cash cow SUV for later. The 4C, a simple, light, and beautiful reintroduction of the Italian car to Americans, is the car that started the whole shebang. The low-volume machine is supposed to be followed by the Giulia sedan in order to steal some buyers from Germany as long as it is as good as Alfa has been saying it will be. Now, evidence is surfacing that it is finally time for the customer-bait SUV to hit dealership shelves around the world.
Our photographers managed to snap some photos of the heavily camouflaged car testing on the roads nearby the Nurburgring, and we can expect that it will be hitting the racetrack soon for some further testing of its performance soon. The thick camouflage on the SUV looks like it was dipped in tar before it hit the German roads, but the distinctive Alfa Romeo front end is present and shares DNA with the Giulia sedan. The rounded roofline gives the car a profile close to that of the Porsche Macan or the Infinity QX50 or QX70, both cars that the Stelvio will compete with. On the rear is a large boxy protruding angle that may be hiding a coupe-like roofline, much like the one on the Mercedes GLC SUV.
It's a good thing that the front resembles the Giulia because another part of the front that the Stelvio will have in common with its Italian sedan brother is a few engine options. The most exciting will be the turbocharged 3.0-liter Ferrari V6 that will be featured in the top trim Quadrifoglio Verde (QV). That engine will make 503 horsepower and power the Stelvio into the Mercedes GLC 63 AMG, Audi SQ5, and BMW X3 M territory. The base model will likely get the 2.0-liter four-cylinder from the Giulia that makes 276 horsepower while diesel options will win over some European customers. Giving the Stelvio a broad range of options is one sign that Alfa Romeo is gunning for the Germans, who tend to offer a bevy of engine alternatives on each model.
While constant delays have wavered beliefs that Alfa Romeo could make a comeback in the US with it's eight planned model releases by 2020, seeing the Stelvio driving down public roads gives us some evidence that Alfa is working on this. The Giulia and the Stelvio are the first two of the eight planned models. The other six will be made up of a full size luxury sports sedan, a hatchback, two SUVs, and two "specialty" vehicles. We'd love to see Alfa Romeo do well with these cars. Despite the delays, the luxury segment is crowded with the old automakers that have been around forever and a fresh whiff of Italian pizzaz, design, and drama is just what the segment needs to become more interesting.