Alfa Romeo Stelvio as imagined by Autocar
Alfa Romeo's next all-new cars are likely to be dictated by the rapid growth of the highly profitable SUV segment - starting with the Stelvio mid-sized SUV, and potentially growing to include all-new larger and smaller models.
The Stelvio will be revealed at the Los Angeles motor show in November before going on sale in mid-2017.
Alfa Romeo CEO Reid Bigland says it will stand out from rivals such as the BMW X3 through a combination of better driving dynamics, more advanced technology and more emotive styling. "When people drive that car,' they will understand we are being true to the Alfa DNA," said Bigland.
Beyond that, Bigland declined to confirm any new models, but conceded: "The whole world is gravitating to SUVs. A few years ago an Alfa Romeo or Maserati SUV would have been sacrilegious, but now? It makes sense to give customers what they want. We must keep an eye on consumer preferences."
Asked if an SUV could be Alfa Romeo's halo model, potentially displacing the launch of a BMW 7 Series-rivalling model above the Alfa Giulia, Bigland added: "10 years ago I'd have said we need the saloon to credibly take on the Germans. Now, the explosion in growth of SUV sales changes that. I'm not saying we don't do the saloon, but it might not be next on the list."
A larger, BMW X5-sized SUV or a coupé-styled version of the Stelvio have been mooted for launch in 2018, with a smaller X1 rival also believed to be under discussion. While Bigland refused to talk about specific models, he insisted that driving dynamics would be key to any new launches, probably ruling out a seven-seater.
"Whatever car Alfa Romeo makes must stand apart for its agility, noise and general driving experience," he said. "A large SUV can work in that space - the Maserati Levante proves that - but it's a five, not seven-seater."