By on October 14, 2016

By The Car Spy (Alfa Romeo 8c Spider) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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)]

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38 Comments on “Alfa Romeo SUV Will Arrive in America with Baggage...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    LOL you guys. Just LOL.

  • avatar
    whynot

    Wait, the Giulia is here?

    Does FCA US know?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You know what’s telling? You cannot build/price ANY Giulia on their website. You can only sign up for updates.

      https://www.alfaromeousa.com/build-and-price

      So how’s it on sale if you can’t build it? The Cincinnati area “Alfa Romeo dealer” has seven (7) cars, all of which are the 4C, and three of seven are 2015 models.

      http://www.alfaromeousaofflorence.com/new-inventory/index.htm

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        You would also think it is time to start advertising and pushing the Alfa Romeo brand now that it is actually receiving a mainstream car instead of a niche product like the 4C.

        Or are they purposely only targeting car enthusiasts? In which case good luck…

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          I am on the Alfa mailing list. They used to email updates, but there’s been radio silence for the last few months. I suspect they are having trouble rolling out US versions of the Giulia.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The Giulia already launched in Europe, so Alfa Romeo sales are skyrocketing there.

      The brand sales are up a stunning 2500 units over last year in September alone. At this rate they might sell over 30K Giulias in a full year!

  • avatar
    VoGo

    From the headline, I was hoping that Alfa had cut a deal with a fine Italian leather goods manufacturer, the way Lexus had Coach edition cars.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I thought Alfa dealers were paired with Fiat and/or Maserati. Has that changed?

    I wouldn’t worry about the Fiat dealers that closed. They probably sucked at selling cars. Locally we’ve got 4 Fiat dealers, but only 1 doesn’t suck. The rest look like they should still be selling Plymouth Volarés. Not surprisingly, almost all Fiats I see have markings from the one good dealer.

    The inside scoop on the Giulia is that they modified it to share more parts with the Stelvio. The delays were for tooling, not for whatever someone told you behind the boys’ locker room. All the European Giulia reviews have been great (other than the inescapable fact that it is being released into a dying segment), so maybe it was worth the wait.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Its not being released into a dying segment – if it was a mid-priced, mundane, 4cyl FWD then yes – but its not. I live in the city, they sell more 3/4-series, C-class, A4/A5 than they do Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas. The Giulia will do just fine, but they have to tell people about it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m a sucker for Italian cars, so I’m eager to see what their Stelvio is like.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Since 1992 I’m not a sucker for ANY Euro cars, but I sat in a A-R Mito back in 2008 and really liked it and thought it would be a perfect hot hatch to go up against Mini. EIGHT years ago….!

  • avatar
    qfrog

    When was the last time there was a reasonable argument for buying an Alfa Romeo? Affection for Alfa Romeo is a clear symptom of the disease that is being a car person. I write that knowing well that I’ve long had a persistent desire to own a GTV6 and a 70’s GTV 2000. Seeing what Alfaholics does with one makes the problem flare up again. I get to watching EVO’s TCOTY and much like an Alfa I quickly find that I lack the motivation to start and do any work today.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Buying an Alfa is admitting that you’d rather have a mechanical Italian Mistress than a flesh and blood one.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      qfrog,

      Do you mean in the US? In that case it was around the time Alfa pulled-out in the mid-90s. The 164 and Spider were both good cars.

      In the rest of the world? There have always been some reasonable arguments for buying an Alfa. The Giulietta is a decent small hatch, and the hot versions are very appealing.

      The 4c is good too, but there’s no reasonable argument for buying such an unreasonable car.

  • avatar
    NN

    A Giulia (and maybe a Stelvio) is high on my list as the next car I buy. After all, humans are irrational beings. I rented an Alfa last year in Europe and enjoyed it. So I hope they don’t implode after the longest brand re-launch in history (hasn’t Alfa been coming back for more than 10 years now?). Also, 7 Giulia’s sold last month surely isn’t an indication of demand, but more of supply.

    Similar to Jaguar, I think these would sell relatively well if they just got them in here and started advertising a bit. Join the Alfa Romeo dealers with Maserati and it will have the correct panache for both brands.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    the dealership issues cannot be overlooked. People used to buying Lexus’s, BMW’s, Audi’s, and Benzes are used to a certain quality of service both in the showroom and in the service department, and while some Fiat dealers might’ve been able to offer that, not all can, especially those joined to a CJDR dealer. Central Florida should be a prime Alfa market, but the Fiat dealer that would’ve been best equipped to sell the brand, Fields, closed earlier this year (and they were one of the top Fiat dealers in the southeast). I enjoyed taking my car there and it felt like they were extending a more premium car level of service to mainstream buyers (they had complimentary loaner cars, complimentary unlimited hand car washes, and you knew pretty much everyone at the dealer). Greenway is the only one left and they are in no position to chase premium customers (their Fiat/Alfa store is on site and shares its lot and service area with the CJDR dealer and the property with their Ford store). They said they are in the process of upgrading the dealership and service area so that Fiat and Alfa customers will be separate from the CJDR ones.

    Daytona seems to be set up better with Fiat, Alfa, and Maserati all sharing the same service area. However, most prospective Alfa buyers from Orlando are not going to want to drive all the way to Daytona to get their car serviced. The dealership situation is one of the reasons this may be my only Fiat. The car is fine and has been reliable. The lack of dealer choice isn’t.

  • avatar
    moff90

    The Giulia crash test ratings were so awful that the EURO NCAP rated its adult occupant protection at 98%, the highest score ever achieved in that category.

    http://www.euroncap.com/en/results/alfa-romeo/giulia/24849

    Remember, always take with a grain of salt sensationalistic articles that refer to “reliable anonymous sources”.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      I suspect the article meant more that the car was delayed repeatedly due to poor internal crash test results, performed by Alfa Romeo during development before sending it off to the authorities for a rating.

      Or do you think NCAP/NHTSA/IIHS/whoever are actually the first to crash test a new car?

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        That’s not why it was delayed. The article is just spreading manure.
        You don’t get from “poor” to “highest score yet” with a last-minute tweak. It’s not that simple.

        The car was delayed so that it could share more stampings with the Stelvio, simple as that. It may seem like a minor thing, but it saves FCA millions over the life of the two products.

  • avatar
    automaniak

    No truth about Afa model plans in the article.

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2HZLHeAo1z0/V9qqLGJE28I/AAAAAAASOjY/M8xT9l8l2poLPnIZjZEY5VfvVxTKO7fqwCLcB/s1600/Alfa-1.jpg

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Another CUV, groan. I always thought we would getting the Alfa MiTo as a model above the Fiat 500. It would have competed against other Hot Hatches such as the GTI and Focus ST. Sergio’s sweater is on too tight.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Honestly, the way the nameplate has been treated, it may be time for Alfa to go. Dodge can serve as the performance brand, and can be gradually moved upmarket. Unless the Stelvio is a smashing success, the Giulia fiasco may doom them. At least they can change the front end and rebrand it as a Hornet though. Now, what Dodge name do you give the Stelvio?

  • avatar
    RHD

    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.

  • avatar
    A4kev

    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 !

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