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Better late than never: Alfa Romeo developing not one but two SUVs

Fiat’s troubled Alfa Romeo division is reportedly developing two SUVs in a bid to take on BMW and Audi.

Expected to arrive in 2016, the company’s first-ever regular-production SUV will be roughly the same size as the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5, two of the segment’s hotter sellers. It will wear a sporty front end inspired by the upcoming rear-wheel drive Giulia sedan and a sleek overall silhouette that will put a big emphasis on form rather than on function.

In the United States, buyers will be able to choose between four- and six-cylinder gasoline-burning engines and either front- or all-wheel drive. Sources close to the Milan-based automaker indicate a range-topping model powered by a 500-horsepower turbocharged V6 mill will almost certainly round out the lineup.

Alfa’s second SUV will be roughly the same size as the upcoming 2015 Volvo XC90. Set to be positioned near the top of the company’s model hierarchy, the SUV will offer space for up to seven passengers and their gear in a spacious, well-lit cockpit packed with the latest high-tech equipment. The yet-unnamed SUV is still at the embryonic stage of development and it is not expected to arrive until 2017 at the earliest.

Both upcoming Alfa SUVs will play a key part in helping the storied automaker earn a slice of the lucrative North American market.

The idea of an Alfa Romeo-badged off-roader is not new. The company briefly built a Jeep-like vehicle called Matta in the early 1950s, and it displayed a rugged-looking concept dubbed Kamal (pictured) at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show. The Kamal was billed as a close-to-production concept but its development was put on hiatus when the company fell in dire financial straits.

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