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Future models - Alfa Romeo - Kamal

Official: Alfa SUV locked in for Oz next year

Top priority: The Kamal concept from 2003 hints at what the upcoming Alfa Romeo SUV may look like.

Alfa Romeo goes off-road in a bid to secure sales Fiat to bring 500 auto here first

Alfa Romeo logo18 Jan 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

ALFA Romeo has confirmed that a Giulietta-based compact SUV is in the pipeline and set to reach the Australian market in 2012, several months before its 159-replacing Giulia sedan materialises for a 2013 launch.

Speaking at the Giulietta launch this week, Alfa Romeo Australia general manager Andrei Zaitzev said that the growth of the SUV sector – which in Australia expanded by 25 per cent last year – makes the first-ever off-road Alfa a top priority in the race to increase sales.

This will be joined in 2014 by a full-size Alfa Romeo SUV, which Mr Zaitzev said is to be based on the underpinnings of this year’s new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

He also hinted at the possibility of a wild Maserati SUV flagship powered by a Ferrari V12 engine.

No names for the Italian off-roaders have been revealed but, as GoAuto has reported, both Alfa Romeo and Maserati revealed SUV concepts back in 2003 named Kamal and Kubang respectively.

Asked whether entering the SUV arena would pose a risk of damaging Alfa’s brand image, Mr Zaitzev said: “It would only erode the image for very few people – the Alfa die-hards – but we would more than make up for that by attracting new customers to the brand.”

26 center imageFrom top: Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Maserati Kubang and Fiat 500.

Mr Zaitzev went on to say he had a good relationship with the Alfa Romeo owners clubs and the ‘Alfisti’, but conceded that they were generally far more interested in the Alfas of 20 and 30 years ago than the current product line-up.

Maybe the die-hards will be brought into the 21st Century by the Spider replacement, confirmed to join Alfa’s new-model renaissance in 2013 and previewed by Pininfarina’s ‘2uettottanta’ concept at last year’s Geneva motor show.

In an interesting revelation, Mr Zaitzev also said that, in recognition of Australia’s prominence in the field of self-shifting small cars, Alfa’s parent company Fiat has contacted Australian importer Ateco Automotive with a view to bringing the first self-shifting right-hand drive 500 – originally thought impossible due to engineering issues – Down Under for evaluation.

Fiat originally developed an automatic 500 for the North American market, where it is currently trying to make inroads on the back of its tie-up with Chrysler. First deliveries of manual transmission-equipped cars are expected there in February, with automatic variants arriving in April.

Meanwhile, a further Alfa model that could make its way Down Under is an entry-level, 88kW variant of the Giulietta hatch. Ateco has submitted this variant for Australian Design Rule (ADR) certification, but there are no plans to introduce it at this stage.

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