Alfa Romeo Stelvio Preview

What it is: The latest in a string of Italian blasphemies that should make the Pope blush and will undoubtedly be the best-selling Alfa Romeo in the U.S.

Why it matters: If you work in an Alfa dealership, you’ve had ample time lately to perfect some sick drum licks with pencils and your desk. The Stelvio and its Giulia sedan sibling might actually coax a few customers through your doors, simultaneously saving your job and the brand.

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Platform: The same architecture on which Alfa drops the Giulia, including aluminum for the doors, fenders, subframes, and assorted suspension bits. This bodes well for the Stelvio, as the Giulia is rather spectacular and just dispatched a BMW M3, a Cadillac ATS-V, and a Mercedes-AMG C63 S to win a comparison test last month.

Powertrain: Again, the same as the aforementioned spectacular Giulia: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, which embarrasses many sixes with its 280 horsepower and 306 poundfeet, or a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. Fairly described as 75 percent of a Ferrari V-8 for about 25 percent of the price, the 90-degree sextuple pounds out 505 horsepower and 443 poundfeet. In a crossover. If it can meet its claimed 3.9-second zero-to-60mph time—we expect it’ll actually beat it—it will be the cheapest subfour-second SUV by some $30K. Which is a sentence we never expected to write. All Stelvios will come standard with all-wheel drive.

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Competition: The Stelvio enters a pretty busy—and, we begrudgingly admit, exciting—class that includes the Audi Q5, BMW X4, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Porsche Macan. What might go wrong:  Crossover buyers could decide that an Italian offering 505 horsepower is just too sexy and retreat to the familiar safety of the Honda CR-V. Or, for the money, three CR-Vs. So really, not much.

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Estimated arrival and price: Watch for it to interrupt desk-drumming sessions this summer. Which means this fall, using Alfa time. Maybe the following spring. Summer 2018? Do we hear 2019? Prices for the turbocharged four-cylinder Stelvios will start at around $40,000 but climb beyond $80,000 for a loaded twinturbo Quadrifoglio model.

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