The arrival of the Stelvio will please the Americans — whose approval will do most to propel any quick Alfa Romeo recovery — and the prospect of up to two more SUVs could generate real excitement. But will it?
In modern times — which means in the 15 years since the marque achieved the reasonably good annual sales mark of 200,000 cars — the car-owning world seems to have settled into a bit of a stalemate with Alfa. Car people like having the cars around without actually buying one.
Perhaps they like the exotic sound of a name whose ownership can be contemplated for a reasonable price, and possibly at a discount. Real success depends on Alfa scaling some mighty hurdles.
The first is to produce new cars of such desirability that they’re irresistible. The Giulia goes some of the way, or would have done if it had appeared on time. The Stelvio must be brilliant, because no marque needs a quick and easy smash hit as badly as this one.
Even then, there’s another hurdle. Alfa has never had an SUV before. If it becomes the seller of three in short order, we’ll have to see whether the market is willing to see the sports and race-oriented Italian company as a predominant maker of family load-luggers. It worked for Porsche, but that transition was managed magnificently, and from a high base. Alfa’s challenges are even bigger.