LA Motor Show Shorts 1

This is the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. You will have seen it elsewhere. They are pitching it as an SUV.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: source
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: source

I am reminded of the images of hamburgers shown over the counter in fast food restaurants and the way the damp wad you are served is somewhat less manicured and airbrushed. Here we are being told the car is a CUV or crossover or SUV (Autocar says SUV) but is it not just a tall hatchback? Take a hard look with the prejudice goggles off. If you were told it was a new Giulietta, would you be able to accept that?

The show car’s interior is full of carbon fibre. I object to this horrible and ugly material as much as others do to wood. Also, it’s a car for 2018 meaning another 13 months from now. By 2018 the car will seem like it has been around for ages. Where is the truly new, surprise car today?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

22 thoughts on “LA Motor Show Shorts 1”

  1. I’m confused (by which I mean uninterested) as to when a crossover becomes a CUV becomes a SUV. Big Lumpy Vehicle. But what I do know is that, if you want to make as good a looking BLV as you can, you don’t take a hatchback and set the distort tool to vertical only. I’m sorry to be like this – we were getting stick only a couple of days ago for being too Alfa-negative – but this has nothing of its own to offer.

  2. Great points made here! It really does look like a supersized Giulietta replacement, and one with a fat, lumpen backside at that. The interior is very Giulia, especially the dash. This latter gets a gentle pasting in the just through my door edition of TWBCM as containing poor quality fake wood, an outmoded and poorly resolved infotainment screen, and cheap’n’nasty plastic gear lever and infotainment controllers (both modelled on the equivalent items by BMW). Overall, one can tell that the author of said comparison test wants to be positive about the Alfa, but it comes last. In this test of diesels, they place the FWD A4 first (! this is Car, right, not What Car?) and the XE second (in spite of more complaints about the manners of the Ingenium). More damning is the aside that two Italian journo colleagues along for the ride prefer the Jag to the others – if an Italian is not going to love Giulia, then she might just end up a wallflower.

    Back to the new supersized Giulietta, no doubt it will become Alfa’s best seller, but it’s surely going to be parked in the space marked ‘guest’ rather than be assigned a permanent berth in the premium SUV multi-story.

  3. I think (in the US at least) 2018 means it will go on sale sometime in 2017… A bit like the December issue of your favourite magazine which has just hit the shelves, halfway through November.

  4. That massive rear overhang is terrible. I agree, nothing new added here, just another mountain of pressed steel. I truly hope the will make the Giulia estate.

    1. True, but will even doubling sales be enough to fund a next generation? I know I’m being a right old Jeremiah, but Alfa/ Maserati needs really profitable winners – its hopes are on Levante and Stelvio, but the SUV sector is now stuffed with well developed, appealing offers (well, if you are open to that kind of thing), and my main point above is that this Stelvio, like the Giulia, seems under-developed and uneven in its execution.

  5. This turdlike appliance could just as easily be a Hyundai. Alfa are well and truly finished; they were always able to sell a fair few cars despite poor reliability and awful dealers when they were stunning to look at but what’s their USP going to be now?

  6. On a related matter, surely the time has come to decide that discs ‘n calipers aren’t really that good looking, and the novelty value in flaunting them, like back-to-front baseball caps, is far, far, far past its Best By Date? Like the Giulia, Alfa see fit to show the top end version first and, to my eyes, the MaxPower bits do it no great favours.

  7. Have I seen an ix35? Not in person. I won’t call it very good and I don’t consider it very bad. It’s colour sensitive. In white it’s a bit too tall. In dark colours it’s acceptable.

  8. I don’t know about categorisation, but I do know that:

    1) No Stelvio will ever, ever tackle rough ground, and
    2) Even with two or even three visual tricks around the wheelarches to try and disguise the height of the bodywork, and large wheels, the rear wheel arch still gapes with far too much fresh air.

    Remember when automotive journalists used to comment on how well or otherwise the wheel fitted the arch? This pleasing detail seems to be totally overlooked these days.

    1. To be fair, rubbish stances are a long-running Fiat Group disease. But indeed, that fact doesn’t excuse this monstrosity.

    2. “1) No Stelvio will ever, ever tackle rough ground,”

      Aha, I see you don’t keep up with the blokes at They’ll have it spinning its wheels in some Australian mudhole on the side of a hill five minutes after they get their press vehicle!

  9. I’ve come across a convoy consisting of a few Giulias, Stelvio development mules and a Maserati Levante a few days ago. The Stelvio’s stance is similar to a very large, jacked-up hatchback’s, coupled with an enormous derrière akin to its Levante brother. It’s somewhat lumpen, I’ve got to say.

    FCA should re-hire Walter de’ Silva. He used to be good at picking the right kind of styling for Alfa, and he’s available, if I’m not mistaken.

  10. Bill: yes, but will the Stelvio get out of the mud? The more I think about it, the wronger the Stelvio looks. It is an ordinary car with CUV proportions. Alfa have made little attempt to think of a Alfa form language that is appropriate to (pretend) off-road duties. Maybe I am being too literal to expect such visual communication. Did AR even try off-roadesque concepts before bravely (or “ballsily”) smearing Giulia shapes over the running gear?

    1. “Did AR even try off-roadesque concepts before bravely (or “ballsily”) smearing Giulia shapes over the running gear?”

      Depending on your perspective, the short answer is yes. The list of missed opportunities is extensive – you can even trace it all the way back to Bertone’s Alfa-badged Sportut of 1997. It’s interesting to speculate on the outcome if they’d moved to produce something like this when the segment was really starting to grow in earnest:

      I personally think the Kamal – 13 years old now – has dated remarkably well. Indeed, even this research mule lash-up from 2009, with just about every non-body-panel exterior element taken from the parts bin, arguably has more going for it than the Stelvio:

      The point here is not to suggest that any of the above were production-ready, or that compromises would not have had to be made to make them so. It’s more to highlight the fact that, given how long Fiat has been messing around with the basic notion of an upmarket SUV, the Stelvio is disappointing in its timidity and hard to pick as an Italian design. Mark remarked above that it could be a Hyundai – this was along the lines of my initial reaction also. In that sense, it’s like the Giulia – that is similarly difficult to pick out in its class and very little about it says that it is the product of an Italian studio. Fiat are no better in this respect – the new Tipo is not even worth acknowledging. For whatever reason, the confidence seems to have drained out of FCA’s design entirely.

      On that basis, and given what contemporary streetscapes look like, I expect the Stelvio will be a huge success.

    2. Somewhere along the line, they also did a revised Kamal mock-up with interior, presumably intended for production, before the money box was slammed shut:

    3. I miss them dearly, but that Bertone proposal poignantly illustrates how off the pace they were by the mid-90s. This concept actually looks older than Enrico Fumia’s Alfas, and those had been penned more than half-a-decade earlier.

      Does anybody know who was in charge at Bertone at that point? Was it still Marc Deschamps?

  11. The Kemal sprang to mind. While it too is composed of Alfa shapes on a raised platform it is a better looking version of that.
    It’s a commonplace that design matters – who in FCA is choosing the people who guide the design? Don’t they know this? FCA have adopted Chrysler’s habit of making consistently low-grade designs, flashy but short-lived, always superficial. Off the top of my head I don’t know who FCA’s design supremo is. Telling, no?

    1. Well, Lorenzo Ramaciotti is enjoying retirement as we speak, so I guess Ralph Gilles is in charge by now.

      Mind you, the Stelio would still be 100% Ramaciotti, whatever that may actually mean (the man hasn’t really produced any kind of signature style during the course of his illustrious career).

      FCA could do with a Bangle/Schreyer, that’s for certain. Or even Wagener*.

      (*Did I really just write that? It appears as though the success of The Michael Bay Of Automotive Styling is having some effect on my mind.)

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