Is a Maserati-based SUV the key to Alfa Romeo’s U.S. success?

It’s quite a leap from the minimalist two-seat 4C sports car to a family-hauling SUV, but that’s exactly the direction Alfa Romeo seems to be headed.

Ever since the Kamal concept appeared at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, there have been rumors that Alfa would use an SUV to broaden its appeal.

Now it appears Alfa is getting closer to that goal. Autocar reports that a forthcoming small SUV will use a shortened version of the Maserati Ghibli sedan’s platform, and that car’s all-wheel drive system (with rear-wheel drive also available).

This would yield a vehicle about the size of an Audi Q5 or BMW X3, but Alfa would likely target the Porsche Macan by giving its small ‘ute a sporty attitude.

Expect turbocharged four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, and an eight-speed automatic transmission also cribbed from Maserati.

Related: Alfa Romeo plans full-blown model offensive

However, the Macan fighter could be just one of two Alfa SUVs in future showrooms. There have already been reports that the brand wants more than one.

First hinted at back in 2013, Alfa could also market an SUV based on the Maserati Levante, which in turn is expected to borrow heavily from the Jeep Grand Cherokee. You can really feel the FCA family love here.

Neither vehicle will be ready for production anytime soon, but an SUV is seen as vital for Alfa’s plan to re-establish a firm presence in the U.S.

Like other low-volume brands, Alfa sees an SUV as a surer path to increased sales than a more traditional sedan, because apparently SUVs are the only things Americans like to buy.

However, it doesn’t appear that any Alfa SUVs will arrive in time to help the brand achieve a previously-stated goal of selling 300,000 cars a year by 2016, although it does have a blitz of other new models in the works.

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