Currently reading: Alfa Romeo Milano name changed to Junior after political backlash
Italian politicians raised concern over the Milano name as the model is actually built in Poland

Alfa Romeo has been forced into changing the name of its new Milano urban SUV to Junior less than a week after it was launched, following uproar from Italian politicians.

Issues arose over the weekend because the car was named after the Italian brand's home town but to be produced at parent company Stellantis’s plant in Tychy, Poland.

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” Italian industry minister Adolfo Urso told Automotive News Europe.

Alfa Romeo said it had made the name change “in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding”, even though, according to CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato, “we know that we are not required to do so”.

“We want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always generated and avoid any type of controversy,” Imparato added. 

“We are perfectly aware that this moment will remain engraved in the history of the brand. It's a great responsibility, but at the same time it's an exciting moment.”

On why the Junior name was chosen for the brand's first series-production EV, Imparato said it is “completely natural” and “strongly linked to the history of the brand”, citing 1966’s GT 1300 Junior, a best-seller of the time.

Positioned as the spiritual successor to the Giulietta and Mito hatchbacks, the new Junior majors on accessibility but offering both premium appeal and driver engagement in a bid to "attract a new generation of Alfisti".

Imparato said that the Junior was designed to help the brand go "from exclusive to inclusive". He highlighted that it would sit in the same line-up at the ultra-exclusive 33 Stradale, adding: "Alfa is the only brand that is able to sell a car at €2 million and €30,000."

Imparato added: "Many of Alfa Romeo's fans still miss the Mito and Giulietta, and now we revamp their stories. Welcome home."

Measuring 4170mm long by 1780mm wide and 1500mm tall, the Junior adopts several bold new design cues but nods back to Alfas of old with features like the swollen wheel arches, a 'coda tronca' bluff rear end and SZ-inspired headlights. The most distinctive feature is the new interpretation of Alfa's traditional front-end grille, which on electric versions featured stylised elements from the firm's logo.

As with the Citroën C4Fiat 600Jeep Avenger and Peugeot 2008 with which it shares a platform (and its basic dimensions), the Junior is available with the choice of electric or mild-hybrid petrol power.

The Junior Ibrida combines a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a 48V starter-generator and a 28bhp electric motor in the six-speed automatic gearbox for 134bhp and the possibility of short-distance EV running. It's front-wheel-drive as standard, but a four-wheel-drive version will arrive later - "a first in the premium segment", Alfa says.

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Alfa Romeo Milano Alfa Romeo Junior

The Junior Elettrica uses a familiar set-up featuring a 54kWh battery – good for 255 miles and capable of charging at 100kW – and a front-mounted 154bhp motor, but with a "specific calibration" aimed at providing "excellent performance and an engaging and very sporty drive, like every Alfa Romeo".

Claiming "the lowest weight in the segment and optimal mass distribution", Alfa talks up the "best-in-class" driving dynamics of its new small crossover, noting that the chassis was tuned by the same team responsible for the hardcore Giulia GTA super-saloon.

The top-rung Veloce variant of the EV is positioned as the most driver-focused Junior, with the same 237bhp front-mounted motor and a Torsen limited-slip differential as the upcoming Abarth 600e. There are front and rear anti-roll bars, with the firm claiming best in class driving dynamics.

It also has "the most direct steering in the segment", Alfa said, with a ratio of 14:1, alongside a 25mm suspension drop, stiffer anti-roll bars at each end and "high-performance" tyres.

Alfa Romeo Milano Alfa Romeo Junior

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Chunky 380mm front brake discs clamped by four-piston calipers round off the agility-focused chassis overhaul.

There's no word yet on the likelihood of a full-bore Quadrifoglio version, but Imparato has previously said he "will always study the possibility to make a performance version" of each new model, as long as it is "fully consistent with the product portfolio message we send".

"If I consider that I’m not able to offer the right level of performance steps of Quadrifoglio, I will not do a Quadrifoglio version.”

For now, the Junior comes in three trims, which can be combined with each of its three powertrains.

Alfa Romeo Milano Alfa Romeo Junior

Techno kit includes a hands-free boot lid, LED matrix lights and a virtual assistant; Premium gets vinyl-fabric upholstery, a massaging driver's seat and ambient lighting; and Sport is differentiated by its Sabelt seats, Alcantara trim and performance-inspired exterior trim.

The high-spec Speciale launch edition is available to order now, but Alfa hasn't said for how long it will be available.

All versions have a 10.25in digital gauge cluster – mounted in a retro-style 'telescopic' binnacle – and same-sized infotainment touchscreen, as well as a 400-litre boot and, in the EV, a cable storage bay at the front. Alfa claims that the design of the latter was inspired by the front storage areas offered on its rear-engined supercars.

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The car is now available to order in Italy, and will launch in 28 markets in the next six months. Alfa will give UK prices closer to launch, but Imparato hinted it would cost around €30,000 in Italy, so we expect the petrol to start at around £26,000 and the EV to command a circa-£10,000 premium, following the example of the Avenger and 600.

Will Rimell

Will Rimell
Title: Deputy news editor

Will is a journalist with more than eight years experience in roles that range from news reporter to editor. He joined Autocar in 2022 as deputy news editor, moving from a local news background.

In his current role as deputy news editor, Will’s focus is with Autocar and Autocar Business; he also manages Haymarket's aftermarket publication CAT.

Writing is, of course, a big part of his role too. Stories come in many forms, from interviewing top executives, reporting from car launches, and unearthing exclusives.

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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KeithS 16 April 2024

As has already been said, at least from an English standpoint, 'Junior' just doesn't have the same ring as 'Milano', and just makes you think child like! 

Personally I think the car looks great with some clever design touches that shows real effort being put in.

I would have considered the hybrid, but at probably over 30k for a decent spec, it's too expensive for me.

I am in the process of waiting to try the imminently due to be  released MG3+ hybrid, which at 20k is fully loaded and great value for money.

Jeremy 16 April 2024

Imagine how different motoring history would have been if Italian politicians had objected to the name Ford Capri back in the 1960s...

And don't get me started on all those Seats with Spanish city names that are not made in Spain...

No wonder Italian politics is in the gutter if this is what they worry about!

jason_recliner 16 April 2024

I love that Italy has a law banning that, and I love the name 'Junior'! Love the little 4WD, too, Great outcome.