A development version of the upcoming Alfa Romeo Stelvio has been photographed testing at the Nürburgring, ahead of the car's anticipated launch early next year.
This is the second time we've seen the car running in its own bodywork; on previous occasions in Italy, all development mules have been wearing a chopped-about Fiat 500L body.
Although it's heavily camouflaged, the latest mule's shape confirms that the Stelvio will get a coupé-like roofline, much like that of the Maserati Levante, with which it is rumoured to be twinned. It also gets several exterior details and a dashboard that strongly resembles that of the Alfa Giulia - unsurprising considering that the Stelvio uses the same Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) modular underpinnings.
The Alfa SUV will also share parts with upcoming Fiat and Jeep medium-sized SUVs and use the same basic structure, although engines and transmissions will differ. It's expected that the three brands will allow FCA to cover a broad spectrum of the SUV segment. Jeeps will be the rugged off-roaders, Fiats will mix some off-road ability with on-road practicality, and Alfa Romeos will offer the highest performance.
It's thought that the crossover will share its engines with the Giulia saloon, meaning 2.2-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol engines will most likely be available in various states of tune. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 from the range-topping Quadrifoglio could also feature in a hot model with as much as 503bhp. This is the model that would be angled most directly at Porsche's performance SUV line-up.
FCA's modular platform will later spawn a larger, BMW 5 Series-rivalling model, which will in turn be followed by two more 'utility vehicles', one larger than the Stelvio and one smaller. Two further 'speciality' models will then complete Alfa Romeo's product plans.
Alfa Romeo is yet to confirm a release date for the Stelvio, but it is expected to be launched at the start of 2017, with UK sales kicking off in the late autumn or winter. It will likely be a rival to the BMW X3 in its most basic form, with the Porsche Macan a key target for Stelvios running more potent powertrains. With this in mind, expect pricing to start close to £40,000.
Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester has previously hinted at the importance of entering the crossover market, telling Autocar: “You can remain pure and ignore the crossover trend, but if you do, you can look forward to a beautiful death."
The new SUV is one of several Alfa Romeo models that have been pushed back or delayed. FCA's original plan called for seven new Alfas following the Giulia to be on sale before 2018, but in a presentation to investors in January, FCA confirmed that the planned product range would now not be completed until 2020.