After years of selling niche vehicles like the Spider, Brera, and GT, Alfa Romeo is planning to add an SUV to its lineup (Autocar reports). The idea of an Alfa-branded SUV isn’t new though, dating back to at least 2003 with the Kamal concept. But the plan to turn Alfa into a volume manufacturer, hatched by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, is what really pushed the idea into reality. With an SUV in its lineup, Alfa will be better equipped to compete with the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Parent-company Fiat expects 500,000 Alfa sales per year by 2014, adding an SUV could be vital to the brand’s future success, especially with the brand planning to reenter the U.S. market by 2013.
The C-SUV’s underpinnings, Fiat’s new Compact Plus Global Modular Architecture, will support four-wheel-drive and Fiat engineers say that the chassis can be tuned to better suit Alfa’s sporty nature, despite being a modular platform. According to Autocar, the C-SUV’s off-road capabilities will be similar to that of the Euro-market Nissan Qashqai, a relative of the U.S.-market Rogue. Autocar also speculates that the C-SUV will receive similar engines to those used in the Guilia, including a 1.8-liter direct-injected gasoline I-4 with Fiat’s Multiair 2 technology, producing around 200 hp and a 140-hp 2.0-liter diesel engine featuring Multijet and Multiair technologies. Autocar also believes a 273-hp 3.3-liter version of Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6 might be used in the range-topping model, while a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 producing anywhere from 220 to 250 hp could be used in the higher-end diesel models.
Based on a stretched Giulia platform that will underpin the forthcoming BMW 3 Series-sized sedan, Alfa’s new SUV, codenamed C-SUV, will be built next to its sister car, a Jeep model to replace both the Compass and the Patriot, in late 2012. Produced at Fiat’s Mirafori plant in Turin, Italy, 280,000 Jeep- and Alfa-branded SUVs are expected to roll out every year. Of those units, at least 100,000 will be Alfa C-SUVs—half of which will be destined for the U.S.
With only four models in its current lineup, adding an SUV to its offerings will help strengthen Alfa’s appeal for American audiences. While the C-SUV will likely be the brand’s entry-level SUV, a Jeep Grand Cherokee-based SUV is also planned to go into production shortly after Alfa’s reentry into the U.S. market. Combined with the rest of Alfa’s future lineup, including the flagship 4C sports car and upcoming variants of the Giulia and Mito subcompact, these SUVs will help Alfa reach Marchionne’s goal of selling 85,000 units in the U.S. as soon as 2014.