One of our favourite ways to appreciate the Lexus RX has always been as a passenger in the second row. While the SUV’s driving dynamics are nothing to write home about, there is a certain Orient Express level of luxury and refinement that is best experienced while being chauffeured. The ride quality is superb.
Luckily for larger families or folks that need to ferry other folks around town, the RX now comes in a longer three-row L version. The new ute can be configured to seat six in complete comfort with second row captain’s chairs, or even up to seven passengers with a bench seat installed instead. The extra room comes courtesy of 4.3 extra inches of body length and some rather ingenious packaging, including a steeper tailgate angle to ensure third row headroom. Second row seats are slightly higher than the third row, creating additional room for feet.
Denizens of the rear rows also benefit from the 12-speaker audio that comes with the Navigation Package, which create sound clarity enough to both listen to music and have a conversation at the same time. The infotainment touchscreen gets a boost as well, jumping up from a generous eight inches to a colossal 12.3. USB ports in the middle row interface with the system.
Need more cowbell? An 835-watt Mark Levinson Surround System with 15 speakers can be added to the nav option. So much for conversation.
Though longer, the RX L is claimed to boast the same agility as the regular RX version, nor should the ride compromised in any way. It also gets the same standard lane keeping assist, intelligent radar cruise control, pedestrian detection, and pre-collision system as its two-row sibling. Full length side curtain airbags cover all three rows in the RX L. Advanced safety and drivers assists are the same for all models, such as blind spot monitoring, surround view camera, intuitive parking assist, and rear cross traffic braking.
What is new on the safety front is that the Lexus Enform Safety Connect service is now free for the first 10 years. The service includes an emergency assist button, roadside assistance, automatic collision notifications, and stolen vehicle notification.
Two RX L models will be available for 2018. The 350L is powered by a 290-horsepower V6 with 263 lb-ft of torque and comes in front- or all-wheel drive configurations. The 450hL is a hybrid model that uses the same engine but adds a rear-mounted electric motor for a total of 308 horsepower. The system drives the rear wheels when needed to maintain optimal traction, and can also be run as a full EV for short distances.
Few names are more synonymous with American muscle and speed than Steve Saleen, the personality and driving force behind Saleen Automotive. From the early supercharged Mustang variants of the 1980s to the roaring, 1,300-plus horsepower S7 of the 2000s, V8 power has been a defining hallmark of the specialty manufacturer.
Not any longer.
Debuting at the 2017 LA Auto Show, the latest Saleen is the elegant S1. “We’re really charting a new breed of car here,” says Steve Saleen of his newest model, and the reality of that statement is apparent all throughout the vehicle.
For underneath the glowing, burnt orange paint lies a surprise: four fewer cylinders than any reasonable person has a right to expect from the California company. Just 2.5 liters of lightweight turbocharged four dwell amidships, hidden by elegant carbon fiber bodywork. When compared to previous and even current models, the 450 horsepower on tap is almost dainty.
However, the intent of the S1 is to be more than just another steroid-crazed American powerhouse. This is a world car, with an almost Zen intent on balance, and the engine reflects that. Its small size allows it to be packaged in the center of the chassis, which aids rotation and is a boon to handling. Its low weight means that more of the power it does produce can be put to its intended use: speed. And, perhaps most importantly, turbocharged powerplants are efficient, a necessary requirement to meet highly-regulated global standards.
The same sense of balance can be seen in the design. The S1 looks truly like a road-going sports car, with an exterior that is positively restrained compared its predecessor, the fire-breathing, Le Mans-storming S7. The S1 is far smaller, Porsche Boxster size, and would be a breeze to drive through the narrow city streets of Europe or Asia. The exterior is svelte and taut, curvy in all the right places and bulging with power in the others. The car looks refined and grown up.
The first supercar to be completely designed and built in-house was the aforementioned S7, a track-focused monster that would be “delightfully bonkers” if it weren’t so damned good at winning races. All of them, in fact. “It has won at every major racetrack in the world,” according to Steve Saleen. Every fin, diffuser, spoiler, and aero bit on the S7 is there for a clearly defined purpose: to cheat every last molecule of air out of its power to slow the car down. The monstrous engine is there to pound the sand out of the best racing teams that Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche can field.
The S1, then, is Saleen entering uncharted territory, but with the same unity of design and purpose that defined the S7. “Steve had a very distinct vision for the car,” says Gary Ragle, the designer responsible for the exterior. “Once we came together and had a good heart to heart, and we all understood where his mind was with the car, it was a pleasure. It was a very simple design process form that standpoint.”
Interior designer Chris Schuttera tells much the same story. “The car itself is uncomplicated from a design standpoint,” he said. “It’s very straightforward. It’s a turbocharged four-cylinder. It’s a manual transmission. It’s two seats. And that’s it.”
The interior design of the car continues the theme of elegance and simplicity. The car is small, but the cockpit feels light and spacious. There are few electronic buttons or other distractions. It’s quiet and downright reverent. This is a temple to speed.
From inception, starting with a blank sheet of paper, the S1 was designed and built in just a year. The guiding principle was to let low weight and big power define the heart and soul of the vehicle, and that is the most fundamental of Saleen qualities. It’s incredibly light for a modern car, clocking in at a model-thin 1,217 kg (that’s 2,685 pounds). With 350 lb-ft of torque available at low rpm thanks to the turbo, acceleration promise to be somewhere between a slingshot and nuclear war.
The S1 will appear in US markets in late summer of next year, sporting an affordable-for-a-supercar $100,000 price tag. The vehicle was also designed with global domination in mind, so Asia and Europe are in the plans.
No word on a right-hand drive yet, though. Sorry, Britain.
Saleen S1: in pictures
Looking nothing so much like the radiant love child of Toyota’s capable U.S-market 4Runner and cute-ute C-HR, the FT-AC concept debuted at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show could, if built, fill a fun niche in the manufacturer’s line-up.
Envisioned as an all-terrain vehicle, the vehicle’s proposed torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, high ground clearance, variable terrain-response settings, and four-wheel lock functionality would make it enough of a of serious go-anywhere truckster to capture customers from Jeep.
Toyota’s only serious off-road SUV is the aforementioned mid-size 4Runner with a starting price of over $34,000 (around £25,000). Jeep has a number of competent 4x4s for far less: the baby Renegade starts at £18,250, the new Compass from £22,995, and the legendary Wrangler from a whopping £35,000 in the UK (in the U.S, it’s priced from just £18,000).
The FT-AC would most likely, speculating based on size, equipment, and market segment, come in around the $26,000 mark (£20,000 – or, more likely, from £25,000, if it actually makes the UK), making it a perfectly situated alternative to the overlanders from Ohio.
Toyota clearly is already thinking of just this. The funky SUV’s full name is the Fun Truck Action Concept, and while that may sound downright silly, it comes equipped with heavy-duty skid plates, tow hooks, beefy A/T tires on rugged 20-inch wheels, and short front and rear overhangs.
While the integrated bike rack is probably too niche to make it onto a production vehicle, rear-facing LEDs on the roof rack and ambient LED lighting at the corners are a fun idea for lighting the trail or campsite. Cameras mounted to the mirrors can upload footage directly to the cloud via wifi capability, making livestreaming an epic Moab run possible.
The FT-AC is cute and funky. If it can hold a candle to the coveted 4Runner’s capabilities, we can’t wait to see it in production.
Toyota FT-AC: in pictures
Unveiled at the 2017 LA Auto Show, the stunning Aria FXE exhibits all the looks, performance, and engineering prowess necessary to enter the hypercar kingdom. Each example will be hand-built to customer specifications and cost more than $1 million, ensuring the exclusivity needed to succeed in this increasingly busy segment.
What really sets the FXE apart, though, is its provenance: it’s American.
With a planned production run of just 400 vehicles per year, there is a strong case to be made for the existence of the FXE. At its debut, the mid-engined coupe garnered attention usually reserved for the rarest from Ferrari or Lamborghini. Its construction is certainly on par: a carbon body surrounding a carbon monocoque, with many components 3D printed using the cutting edge of technology.
Powering the is the latest and greatest 6.2-liter supercharged V8 from an American manufacturer, paired with twin electric motors on each of the front wheels for a total of up to 1,150 horsepower and an explosive 1,316 lb-ft of torque. The engine hides amidships and is accessed by lifting up the rear half of the body, which splits at the rear door cutline.
With a curb weight of only 3,450 pounds, the FXE’s acceleration will be on par with the world’s most elite racing vehicles. Aria claims 2.7 seconds to pass the 60 mph mark: both a Formula 1 car and MotoGP bike take 2.6.
Aria: did you know?
Relaxed crash testing regulations have allowed the California specialty manufacturer to enter the realm of ultra-low volume automaker. Before venturing into the world of bespoke hypercars, Aria kept itself busy for more than 20 years doing low-volume projects like movie vehicles, the Las Vegas monorail, and projects for aerospace.
Its automotive pedigree includes making body panels for the “reimagined” Porsches created by design house Singer, and crafting both the Ford GR-1 and Kia Stinger concepts.
The car will be manufactured in Orange County, CA. Deliveries of the first examples are expected in late 2019.
In pictures: new Aria FXE
The LA Auto Show is a feel-good show. Local hotels and restaurants are putting out the Christmas decorations, despite the sunshine and 25-degree temperatures outside, and the just-right size and just-so layout of the stands means it’s a show it feels churlish to gripe about.
Manufacturers reward it by showing some interesting cars, and bringing along Grade-A execs to present them. Sure, the list of genuine world-firsts is slight, but this doesn’t stop LA having its own share of surprises – this year, there were certainly some prominent ones on the roster that proved its status as serious car show. Such as? Let us be your guide…
Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV
America is back in love with Alfa Romeo. The Giulia was the warm-up: now, the Stelvio SUV is the car winning over hearts, few more so than the potent-looking QV version. Its V6 turbo engine produces 510hp and has, literally, more than a whiff of Ferrari about it, while the gorgeous Alfa red paint of the show stand car couldn’t help but draw onlookers. Your writer remembers when Alfa was relegated to a corridor at LA, merely in the way of the other big brands. Not anymore.
Aston Martin Vantage
Aston Martin wasn’t there in person, probably because it was still giving itself high fives over the successful UK launch of the new Vantage. That didn’t stop massive local dealer Galpin Motors convincing the firm to ship over one of the first models for it to display on its incredible hall-of-its-own stand. In what other colour, but vivid lime green? Perfect.
BMW i8 Roadster
BMW has been chopping the roof off the i8 almost as long as it’s been making the i8. But only now is it an official production car, as opposed to a concept. And it looks even better than we ever imagined. The i8 Coupe, as it’s now called, is a cool car, but don’t be surprised if the majority of buyers choose the i8 Roadster instead.
Monster power from a monster Corvette. But also a dinosaur. This is a last hurrah for the front-engined Corvette: its replacement will have an engine in the middle, one producing even more power than this ludicrous powerhouse. If that’s progress, hang the history: we’re all for it.
This is the most important Infiniti there’s ever been. Sure, it’s an SUV; god knows, how could it not be? It replaces a similarly-sized SUV that was forgettable. This one won’t be, though. Because it’s powered by the first production-ready variable compression engine in the world. A colossal breakthrough two decades in the making, that means it’s as economical as a diesel but as powerful as a V6. Infiniti’s so confident in the merits of this engine, it’s not offering the pretty new QX50 with any other motor. How rival makers must be stomping their corporate feet at the Japanese premium brand’s potential engineering-led big break into the big time.
Jaguar Project 8
It costs £150k, but for good reason. Very little of a regular XE is actually left. And the reward for Jaguar indulging its SVO engineers with this wild flight of fantasy? A record-breaking Nürburgring lap time. No four-door production-spec car has lapped the Green Hell more quickly than this. It’s 11 seconds faster than the previous record holder, the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. Dammit, it’s even faster than a Ferrari Enzo. £150k, you say? Bargain.
The Mercedes-Benz CLS. First one, great. Second one, not so. Here’s that tricky third album, make or break for the CLS. The initial signs are good, with a sexy body shape drawing back to the reason why people loved the original, and steered clear of the ham-fisted second one. Will it sell, for upwards of £55k at a minimum? We’ll see. But we hope so. Not everything needs to be SUV-shaped these days. There’s still room for a bit of beauty.
Porsche 911 Carrera T
The Porsche 911 Carrera T has already gone on sale in the UK, and if you’re one of the people who have placed a deposit on the £85,576 stripped-back 911, you can expect to take delivery in January. That’s one way to chase away the new year blues. Speaking of which, we’d take ours in optional Miami Blue, a snip at £1,877.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
This is a formidable machine. With a combined output of 680hp, the all-wheel drive Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo will sprint to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 192mph. Driven carefully – some chance – you can expect an electric range of 15 to 30 miles. The price: £139,287, before options.
Range Rover facelift
The Range Rover’s facelift is subtle, but the big changes lie under the skin, most notably the arrival of a new plug-in hybrid version. The P400e boasts a 31-mile electric range, 101mpg NEDC fuel economy and total power output of 404hp. Prices start from £86,965, but you’ll pay £105,865 for the Autobiography.
The original XC90 and XC60 were hugely successful in North America, and we expect the XC40 to follow suit. We’ve driven the compact SUV and can confirm that it’s every bit as good as it looks. We had no hesitation in giving it a maximum five-star rating, and the word on the floor in LA is that Volvo has another hit on its hands.
The last big motor show of the year is always LA. Automotive chiefs are taking a break from the winter chill and enjoying a few days of sunshine at the annual feel-good event. It always has an end-of-term feel to it, but also serves as a great warm-up for the new cars that will start the year ahead with a bang. Read on to see what we already know will be there in 2018…
- New Infiniti QX50 revealed ahead of 2017 LA Auto Show debut
- 2018 Volvo XC40 first drive: watch out, Jaguar E-Pace
- Elton John’s Bentley offered for sale
Mercedes-Benz invented the modern four-door coupe segment back in 2003 with the CLS. After the slightly humdrum current car sapped some of the excitement of the original, the firm is set to take LA by storm with an all-new third-generation CLS. Using plenty of tech from the E-Class again, we hope the styling has rediscovered the elegance of the original, although we’re happy to bet the drive is going to impress. With a welter of autonomous tech, it could be the CLS back to its best.
The Infiniti QX50 could not be more market-perfect. It’s as spot-on a replacement to its predecessor as the old one was wholly ignorable. Because not only does it look pretty, it also has a brilliant new engine, and we don’t use the adjective ‘brilliant’ lightly. Called VC-Turbo, this is a variable compression unit that can become bigger or smaller, as the needed arises. No engine on sale before has been able to do this. The QX50 looks smart but could also, quietly, be the single most significant new car revealed at LA 2017.
Not heard of Aria Group? Don’t worry – it’s an expert engineering firm that usually makes the concept cars for big-name manufacturers. Now it’s decided to make one of its own, and the FXE teased here is our first look at the start-up supercar. Yes, we’re excited to see more.
BMW M3 CS
There’s a new BMW 3 Series next year, so this one is trying to go out on a high with a zippy new CS-tuned version of the M3 range-topper. Taking much of the carbon fibre styling addenda from the M4 CS, it also gets a power boost to 453hp and two criminally cool features – a ducktail-style rear spoiler and ultra-lightweight staggered wheels: 19 inches on the front and 20 inches at the rear. The current M3 has always slightly disappointed. Is BMW saving the best until last?
Saleen is a US performance car firm that used to make its own supercar, but more recently has tuned up versions of other hot cars, such as the Ford Mustang. The S1 was originally revealed in China, as it’s a joint venture development with Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technology Co, and will be built from 2018 for sales in both the US and China. Boasting up to 450hp, it’s an intriguing proposition that we’re keen to see more of.
Land Rover Discovery SVX
Even a standard Land Rover Discovery can pretty much go anywhere. We proved as much on the launch earlier this year. But the way it looks is, well, just a bit too posh and elegant for some to believe it can do all this. Enter the SVX, hand-built by the same Coventry, England division that makes ultra-posh Range Rover SVAs and ultra-fast Jaguar SVRs. Land Rover reckons it’s the most extreme car it’s ever made – yes, more off-road-ready than any Defender – and we’re going to pore over it in LA ahead of its launch in 2018.
Range Rover and Range Rover Sport facelift
The Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have been facelifted and LA show-goers get to see them up-close for the first time. The big news is the introduction of a plug-in hybrid model that can do up to 31 miles in full EV mode, but we’re also looking forward to checking out the new front end in the metal, and the even posher interior in all its leather-laden glory. You don’t even have to stop with the regular Range Rover: Land Rover will also be showing the SVAutobiography range-topper, aiming to redefine – again – just how luxurious you can make a Range Rover.
Hyundai’s premium division, Genesis, has already caused a stir with its excellent G90 luxury car, a cracking first attempt at taking on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Now it has the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 in its sights. The G70 was only revealed a few months ago, so this is still a relatively fresh first-show. It’s aimed at sports saloon drivers in the U.S. but we’ll be checking it out to see if Hyundai UK should take an interest.
BMW i8 Roadster
How long have we been expecting this? A roofless i8 has been years in the making, but might at last be arriving in LA, and we can’t wait to flip-up the doors and jump straight in on the show stand floor – before possibly being escorted away, depending on the humour of the security guards. Honestly, we’ll take our shoes off.
BMW X7 iPerformance Concept
LA will be another opportunity for us to see the rather large BMW X7 luxury SUV concept. This is BMW’s Range Rover, focused on the Chinese market, and all kinds of massive. LA is so connected, we might take up residence in the back of it and order some takeout once we’ve charmed the security guards.
While Land Rover dillies and dallies over the new Defender, finding itself in the bizarre situation of phasing out a model without a replacement ready to jump into its shoes, Jeep shows the way to treat an icon with the all-new Wrangler. It’s familiar, of course, but jam-packed with new stuff, to both make it even better off-road and even more connected inside.
The sales figures prove how much people love the Lexus RX SUV. But in all this time, it’s remained a two-row five-seater. No more. LA 2017 marks the debut of the three-row seven-seat RX, ingeniously called RXL. If you’re eco-thinking and have three children, each with an inseparable best mate, bingo.
Mazda 6 facelift
You tell us. The Mazda 6 is a marvellous car, a premium BMW rival sold at Ford Mondeo money, but if you can tell what’s different about this one, you have keener eyes than us. Still, we will nevertheless head over to check out and admire the people’s BMW 3 Series.
Porsche 911 T
Yes. This is the one enthusiasts have been waiting for. T means turbo, of course, but T also harks back to the 911’s 1960s heritage, where things were oh-so simple. Here, T means Touring, and Porsche’s made sure it’s a driving holiday with rear-wheel drive, a limited-slip differential and a manual gearbox. It has 20mm lower suspension than a regular Carrera, standard adaptive dampers, and is 20kg lighter thanks to thinner glass, no rear seats and even straps for the doorhandles. Where do we sign?
Porsche 718 GTS
What enthusiasts really want is the return of the six-cylinder Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster. With the GTS… they don’t get it. But they do get more power, 365hp, from the 2.5-litre turbo flat-four, which Porsche reckons will accelerate one from 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds if you go for the fast-shifting PDK automatic. Quick enough to knobble a 911 or two, while GTS accoutrements give it a bit more focus in corners too.
Subaru is such a well-loved brand by people who know their cars, so why shouldn’t it too get on the modern SUV bandwagon and try to attract more of those to whom it’s unknown? The good-looking Ascent, pictured here in concept form, is its first three-row seven-seat SUV, thoroughly on-form and set, more than likely, to sell like hot cakes in North America. Those who know their cars would love it in the UK, but would it sell?
We’ve only seen a teaser of this, and it frankly looks fantastic already. Packed with LED lights and a bulging body, we don’t quite know if it’s an SUV, a pickup, a van or what, but we’re still hoping it’s the cool post-apocalyptic Toyota this image suggests it is. One to keep an eye on.
Mini Electric Concept
We saw this at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show, and now Mini’s showing off the battery electric concept in the market destined to take a substantial proportion of sales. Expected to use BMW i3 electric tech, it will be fast, have a decent range and generally thoroughly Mini-flavoured, just with zero emissions from the (non-existent) tailpipe.
Mazda Vision Coupe Concept
Meet the future of Mazda styling. This is another car we’ve already seen, but it’s still worth a second look because of just how pretty and elegant it is. Who says they don’t make jaw-dropping and achingly beautiful cars anymore? Join us at LA to see yet more lovely pictures.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
The car with the longest name at the show. To decipher it, this is a shooting brake Panamera with a 55 hp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, a 140hp electric motor and a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery good for 30 miles on full EV power. But, more importantly, a total system output of 680hp and 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. Not bad for an estate, huh?
A Volvo at a motor show is a rarity – the firm has pared back the number of events it attends, preferring instead to do things its own way. Luckily, LA is one of the events it is attending, and lucky for Los Angeles, the XC40 is yet another marvellous modern Volvo. It rivals the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. It is also, according to early drive reports, better than the new Jaguar E-Pace, which isn’t quite what the British firm had planned.
First revealed in Dubai, the monster Corvette now gets its homeland reveal. A production Corvette has never been faster or more powerful car than this: 755hp may even see it dip beneath seven minutes for a Nürburgring hot lap, the firm hints. We’ll join the throng and lust over it in LA.
The posh compact Lincoln SUV gets a new look for 2018, with the same cool front end we’ve seen on the Continental. It’s much nicer than the current setup and the interior is, to follow a bit of a trend of LA 2017, said to be even posher and more luxurious as well.
Lexus is looking to take on the big Audi Q7 with the launch of a new seven-seat version of its posh hybrid SUV, the RX L. Teased here, the new model will fully debut at the 2017 LA Auto Show later this month.
Indicated by the ‘L’ in the name, Lexus is presumably squeezing in the third row of seats by stretching the wheelbase of the existing RX, which is already an SUV 4,890mm long.
An Audi Q7 is 5,052mm long, so presumably the new seven-seat Lexus will also grow to over five metres. It remains to be seen by how much Lexus will use this new metalwork opportunity to tweak the styling of the hybrid SUV.
The teaser image it’s released suggests changes may be mild…
As indicated by the name, the Lexus RX450hL will use the firm’s petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, making it a more on-message alternative to the TDI diesel-powered Audi Q7 e-tron. That car costs from £66,000 and it’s expected the seven-seat RX L will also nudge over the £60k mark.
Can’t wait to hear more? Well, you’ve a few weeks yet to hold on. The new model will be revealed on 29 November in LA. We’ll be there so come back then to hear more of the new family-friendly addition to Lexus’ posh SUV line-up.
At long last, Alfa Romeo has revealed its first ever SUV, called Stelvio. Debuting at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio will in 2017 launch to take on the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace in the battle of the sporty premium SUVs.
And Alfa reckons it’s in the running with the first SUV it’s made in over 100 years of production. Read on to find out why…
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the next part of Alfa’s rebirth as a sporting premium alternative to BMW, Audi and Jaguar. The Giulia saloon set the ball rolling, but it’s the Stelvio SUV that’s the most important of the two. This is the model that should deliver the strong sales and fat profit margins necessary to make Alfa sustainable. There’s a lot riding on the Stelvio, alright – hence launching it in LA, one of the world’s key SUV markets.
It certainly packs a visual punch, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Derived from the look of the Giulia saloon, this is much bolder and more substantial, particularly its prominent, huge Alfa grille and the inset bonnet shutline. Air intakes are suitably enormous on this Quadrifoglio variant too.
Cloverleaf crests feature on the front wings (that’s what Quadrifoglio means in Italian) and the extended wheelarches are colour-keyed, as are the side skirts. Carbon fibre trim features on this launch model too – more mainstream models will be toned down a bit. Even so, whereas many SUVs go for colour contrasts with the plastic bits to reinforce their tough off-road nature, Alfa’s instead given the Stelvio more of a performance car finish. Its intent is clear.
The rear hatch has a steep rake and a big roof spoiler, plus quad exhausts on this Quadrifoglio variant. The sculpting around the rear lights is smart and we like the ‘Kamm tail’ design of the tailgate itself. This crisp cut-off is likely to benefit high-speed aerodynamics. The rear haunches are powerful too, although from this angle it does also remind us a little of the Maserati Levante…
Inside, the command-like interior is familiar from the Giulia, but perhaps even more elegant and premium than that car. Alfa’s had a bit more time to work on the Stelvio dash, and it shows. The cowled dials, flat-bottom steering wheel and huge central screen dominate: also check details such as the Ferrari-like starter button on the steering wheel, and the Alcantara dash top with red stitching.
Underneath, the Stelvio is derived from the Alfa Romeo Giulia architecture. It’s built in Modena – famous for its Ferraris – and the brand insists the Stelvio name has been chosen to reinforce its sporty SUV focus. The Stelvio Pass is the highest mountain pass in Italy and packs 75 corners into 20km. If Jeeps are Trail Rated, it seems this Alfa Romeo is Stelvio Rated.
The engine is one of the most exciting bits. This is not quite a Ferrari engine in an Alfa, but it’s the next best thing, as the supercar maker has been heavily involved in its design. The 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine produces 510-horsepower and, while performance figures haven’t been released, we’d suggest the Quadrifoglio will do 0-60mph in the fours, and top 175mph all-out.
If a 510-horsepower engine developed with Ferrari is too much, don’t worry. Alfa is also offering a 280-horsepower 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder and, later, a suitable range of turbodiesels. All will be paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Of course, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is all-wheel drive: the system is called Q4. But in normal driving, you’d never know it: 100% of drive is sent to the rear axle, to give it a suitably sporty feel. Only when the limits are reached is up to 50% of drive sent forwards. Response is rapid – indeed, the system even predicts loss of grip and will adjust drive before it actually happens.
Derived from the well-received Giulia saloon, the Stelvio has double wishbone front suspension and a patented ‘four-and-a-half’ link rear setup, called AlfaLink. Rear suspension innovation is where it’s at these days: also see Jaguar Integral Link. As for the steering, forget mud-plugging off-road stability – Alfa’s focused on maximising feel and feedback when cornering fast, by keeping loads on the tyres constant.
Active suspension, ESC and Q4 all-wheel drive are all coordinated by the Alfa Chassis Domain Control system. This adjusts the mapping in real time, says the firm, for super-fast adaptive changes during fast driving. Alfa Torque Vectoring is also combined with the Q4 system for the first time: clutches in the rear differential control individual drive delivery to each wheel.
Brakes are more track-speck than trail-spec: on the Quadrifoglio, Alfa Romeo is fitting carbon-ceramic discs to the Stelvio. It also has the same Integrated Brake System as on the Giulia, which pairs electronic aids with a traditional servo, upping response and cutting stopping distances. It’ll need a good set of anchors if it’s to grab a hot Nürburgring lap time…
We don’t yet know how heavy the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio is, but the firm says it’s tried to make it as light as possible. There’s a carbon fibre driveshaft and the doors, wings, bonnet and tailgate are aluminium, as are the engines, suspension and brakes. All the heavy stuff has been centralised as much as possible. If you’re naming a car after the most famous sequence of corners in the world, you don’t want to make it a bit of a boat through them, do you?
Size-wise, the Stelvio is 4.68 metres long, 1.65 metres high and a healthy 1.9 metres wide. By way of comparison, a Porsche Macan is 4.69 metres long, 1.62 metres high and 1.92 metres wide. Spot-on dimensions alongside its rivals, then.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio: in pictures
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