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Alfa Romeo's new lightweight rwd/awd platform that underpins the Stelvio, seen here at the recent LA show, will see greater use in the FCA global portfolio including the company's next generation North American large sedans and muscle cars. (Newspress USA) 

Alfa Romeo's first SUV shares new RWD sedan platform, engines

Alfa Romeo's first SUV made its global debut at the 2016 L.A. Auto Show. The Stelvio is based on the Giulia, launched last year, and shares the same architecture and engine range. For North America, power will be provided by an all-aluminum 2.0-L direct injection, turbocharged gasoline engine producing a claimed 280 hp (208 kW) and 306 lb·ft (415 N·m) between 2,250 and 4,500 rpm.

The engine is equipped with FCA’s Multi-Air hydraulic variable-valve timing and lift system. Fuel is injected at a pressure of 200 bar (2,900 psi).

High-performance Quadrifoglio variants are powered by Alfa Romeo’s most powerful production engine, an all-aluminum 2.9-L bi-turbo V6 producing a claimed 505 hp (376 kW) with 443 lb·ft (601 N·m) available between 2,500 and 5,500 rpm. This engine is equipped with cylinder de-activation on three cylinders. The turbochargers are integrated into the exhaust manifold and feature a single-scroll design.

No further engine details were announced at launch, but European models are likely to include the Giulia’s range of 2.2-L four-cylinder turbodiesels.

All U.S. models feature the Alfa Romeo Q4 all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring for Quadrifoglio models. ZF is the program's Tier 1 for the AWD system, with GKN Driveline serving in a Tier-2 role providing two electronic torque-vectoring units (ETV) per vehicle 

Up to 60% of engine torque can be transferred to the front wheels. U.S. models are all equipped with a ZF 8HP50 eight-speed planetary automatic transmission.

Alfa’s DNA Drive Mode system is available with 2.0-L variants, offering Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency drive modes, selected by the driver. Quadrifolglio models gain Race mode and the DNA Pro Drive Mode system in place of the DNA Drive Mode system.

Named after an Italian mountain pass famous for its challenging roads, the Stelvio is based on the same rear-drive/all-wheel-drive platform developed for the Giulia by a Maserati engineering team headed by Philippe Krief. The stiff, lightweight architecture is expected to underpin a number of FCA products during the next (2018) design cycle, including Chrysler and Dodge North American full-size sedans and muscle cars.

Mass-saving measures include a carbon fiber driveshaft, while aluminum is used for the front and rear sub-frames, front shock absorber towers, brakes, suspension components, doors and fenders. The rear cross member is constructed from aluminum and composite material.

Suspension is also derived from the Giulia with double wishbones at the front and Alfa’s patented multilink rear suspension.

"The Giulia and the Stelvio are mechanically very related and as you can see they are design-wise very related", commented Klaus Busse, head of design for FCA Europe. "We are clearly evolving Alfa Romeo's designs from maybe what the 8C started and 4C and Mito continued. Now we are evolving that design to a very sculptured design, first with the Giulia and now with the Stelvio."

Key to developing the Stelvio from the Giulia design is respecting the different dimensions of the cars, noted Busse.

"If you do an Alfa Romeo and you do your first SUV, you really have to think very hard about what kind of expression you want to give the world about where Alfa Romeo sees an SUV," he explained. "For us it was clear that Alfa Romeo would not do a box. While it's very spacious on the inside, on the outside we wanted to make sure that the car looks very sporty, very dynamic, with almost coupe style" and surface treatment that is very similar to the Giulia."

Stelvio is actually the second utility vehicle to wear the Alfa badge. The first was the 1900 M "Matta," built in both military and civilian versions from 1951-54. While strongly influenced by the U.S. Army's Willys-Overland M38 Jeep and its MB predecessor, the four-wheel-drive Matta had the heart of a contemporary Alfa sports car—1.9-L DOHC hemi-head, inline four cylinder with 4-speed gearbox and independent front suspension.

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