Alfa Romeo SUV Will Arrive in America With Baggage

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will introduce its all-new Alfa Romeo SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show to a crowd of interested enthusiasts and wary prospective buyers.It’s called the Stelvio and while the model isn’t necessarily the cause of the wariness, Fiat’s handling of the brand is. With plenty of options in the premium compact SUV segment and no shortage of sales turmoil and delays within FCA’s Italian ranks, will buyers take a chance on Alfa?Alfa Romeo’s reintroduction to the North American market has been a mess. Fiat delayed the Giulia endlessly due to poor crash test ratings and being “ technically immature,” according to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. When the car finally came out last month, it sold just seven units in the U.S.The company also cancelled plans for a larger flagship sedan to compete with the BMW 5-Series. It stopped development on a roadster based on Fiat’s 124 Spider, and it is still deciding what platform to use for their compact Giulietta — not knowing if it should be front or rear-wheel drive. The only horse in Alfa’s stable with a clear course of action is the 4C, and that model is staying the course.Alfa Romeo, a supposedly premium brand, doesn’t even have its own showrooms. It’s forced to share space with Fiat, which has suffered a steady and fairly serious sales drop. Some standalone dealers have closed down, with leftover vehicles making their way to Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealerships. None of this seems fitting of a high-end luxury brand, and it does little to help FCA’s goal of raising the brand’s profile in the U.S.That doesn’t inspire a lot of faith in the brand’s U.S. future. While some enthusiasts may overlook this and buy a Giulia based on “passion” and automotive heritage, many more will be wooed by traditional brands. That’s the problem the Stelvio will have to overcome, no matter how good it looks come November.That said, SUVs have been the savior of many struggling premium automakers in the recent past, from Jaguar to Bentley and even Porsche. Time will tell if the public’s ravenous appetite for utility vehicles lifts Alfa’s fortunes.[Source: The Detroit News] [Image: The Car Spy/ Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]
Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • RHD RHD on Oct 17, 2016

    How about the Swinger? It starts with S, has seven letters, will be understood by the age demographic that remembers that Alfa Romeo used to sell cars here, and will be seen by so few people that it won't matter that it's kind of silly.

  • A4kev A4kev on Oct 18, 2016

    npaladin2000 Although I'm almost ready to concede that you are correct visa vi the manner in which the brand has been allowed to be tarnished, I must take issue with some of the previous comments that suggest that Alfa doesn't/hasn't made solid,safe really fun cars.I speak with a bit of experience with the brand.I'm an auto tech, retired garage owner and I own a 1986 GTV6.Almost sounds like an admission of guilt eh !-I'm Canadian. Anyway all that to say - I've worked on and owned more than a few.My GTV6 has probably seen >300k miles.It's done a lot of track time and I always drove to and from the track eg.Watkin's Glen 400miles each way and a wicked track.My car has always come home smiling.Have I done work on her ? Yes regular maintenance and a head rebuild, more because I was chasing 7 extra hp.than because it needed it.Engine was using a ltr.every 2k miles, valve seals, but now she's back to zero consumption.Guess the lower end,pistons & rings aren't too badly engineered, that's >300k miles. Alfas are great cars that are reliable in very important ways. They are also supremely safe in an intelligent fashion.They are really well balanced cars often 50/50 such as my GTV6.They have extraordinary brakes and Alfa figured out it was advantageous to fire the engine under the car in a head-on collision back in the late 60's So if the spirit off Alfa still lives within the Fiat organization, I believe it does, then we should give them a fare shake in N.A.until the evidence is in. If we don't we risk losing an opportunity to broaden our options in a market where cars/Suvs are becoming somewhat generic. Bye the way how about taking the Guilia Quadrifoglio with a 505-hp 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 and call the damn thing the Demon.Not a 340 Wedge but man does it ever act sacrilegiously !

  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂
  • VoGhost Matt, I'm curious why you write that inventory levels are low at 74 days. Typically, 60 days is the benchmark for normal inventory.