Alfa Romeo’s first SUV, the 2018 Stelvio, debuts in Los Angeles

The 4C sports car and Giulia sedan may have melted the hearts of car enthusiasts, but they won’t save Alfa Romeo. This car might, though.

Debuting at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2018 Stelvio is Alfa Romeo’s first-ever SUV. It may seem like blasphemy for an automaker known for sensuous sports cars and fast sedans, but the popularity of SUVs cannot be denied. Now that companies like Porsche, Jaguar, Maserati, and Bentley are building them, and making plenty of money in the process, it’s time for Alfa to jump on the bandwagon.

At first glance, it at least appears that the Stelvio will be an Alfa first, and an SUV second. Its styling borrows heavily from the Giulia, which is a good thing. It looks like Alfa designers took a sheet of tracing paper to the sedan to create the Stelvio’s front fascia. The roofline is fairly low, and the Stelvio has a decidedly cab-rearward profile, making it look almost more like a station wagon than a traditional SUV.

Powertrains are shared with the Giulia, meaning most versions will get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 280 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. Alfa also plans to offer a performance-oriented Stelvio Quadrifoglio model, with same Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 as the Giulia Quadrifoglio. Output is unchanged at 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, allowing the Stelvio Quadrifoglio to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and reach a top speed of 177 mph.

All models use an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard. A mechanical limited-slip differential will be available for increased traction in corners, and the Quadrifoglio will have a torque-vectoring differential, which shunts power side to side to help turn the vehicle in corners. Also helping handling is a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution.

On the inside, the center console is bedecked with rotary knobs that control the driving modes and infotainment functions. The Stelvio also comes standard with a 7.0-inch display screen wedged between the gauges, plus a 6.5-inch center-stack display screen (an 8.8-inch screen will also be available).

Alfa did not say specifically when the Stelvio will be available, but it likely won’t arrive in showrooms until sometime next year. Pricing information will be released closer to the launch date.

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