- Alfa is readying a new compact crossover
- Key focus on profitability and sales volumes
- 154bhp – but more powerful versions expected
Alfa Romeo’s CEO, Jean-Philippe Imparato, has confirmed his engineers are working on a new B-segment electric SUV. It’ll be unveiled in 2024, slotting into the firm’s line-up beneath the Tonale SUV and becoming a new rival for the likes of the Peugeot e-2008, Mercedes EQA and BMW iX1.
The new B-segment crossover will kick off Alfa’s ambitious plan to launch a new car every year between now and 2029. It’ll also become one of the main breadwinners in Alfa Romeo’s newly electrified line-up, granting it enough financial wriggle-room to launch exciting products like its upcoming supercar and replacement for the Giulia saloon.
Until recently, projects like those were hanging in the balance. Imparato told CAR Magazine that, when it was governed by FCA, Alfa Romeo was losing money hand over fist – and that made it rather difficult to secure funding from head office for its performance vehicles.
Those plans weren’t shelved when Stellantis took the reins in 2021, but the new group’s boss Carlos Tavares wasn’t prepared to let his other brands bankroll Alfa Romeo’s product strategy. So, he gave the Italian firm an ultimatum – either start making money or lay your neck on the chopping block.
So, how important is this new SUV for Alfa’s future?
Very. Imparato is expecting it to bring in some big numbers for Alfa Romeo, too, as it’ll be marketed as an upgrade for drivers of the company’s older, smaller, high-volume vehicles. He explained the SUV’s positioning, saying: ‘What do I give to the owners of a MiTo? What do I give to the owners of a Giulietta? What do I give to give the guys who bought the Stelvio in 2018 and who want to continue with us? The first answer is Tonale PHEV and the second is the launch you will have in 2024.
‘With these two launches we will have ticked the boxes of ‘Alfa Romeo is sustainable’ because Alfa Romeo […] is able to feed its finances with I would say a car that brings some volumes and that is affordable for people who are waiting for us in this segment.’
Imparato has brought Alfa Romeo a long way since he was appointed the brand’s boss in January 2021 – but there’s still a lot of work to do. However, he’s confident his strategy will improve the firm’s position, both in terms of its profitability and its reputation within the Stellantis group.
‘I’m back to profit since 2021,’ he said. ‘At the end of 2022, we are crossing [margins for] the full year 2021. So, in one semester, we made the same amount of profit of the full year 2021. Boom. So, having said that, when you come back to your president and ask – hey, Carlos! I would like close the product plan until 2030, you are more welcome than you would be if you were losing money.’
What’ll power Alfa’s new baby SUV?
The crossover will be based on the same e-CMP architecture as the new Jeep Avenger – and it’ll share that car’s 51kWh battery pack and 154bhp electric motor. Launch edition models will probably be front-wheel drive only, but there’s a good chance Alfa will introduce a more powerful four-wheel drive variant in the future. Jeep has already teased an Avenger 4×4 concept, which means the technology is available and compatible with the chassis.
Like the Avenger, the Alfa’s maximum range should be around 250 miles on the open road or 340 miles if you’re just pottering around town. Charge times should be fast too – Jeep says the Avenger can recover an 80 percent charge in around 30 minutes when connected to a 100kW rapid charger.
Naturally, electric power will be the focus of Alfa’s new baby SUV – especially when you consider Alfa Romeo’s plans to become an electric-only car manufacturer by 2027. However, Imparato told us the car will also be available with a mild hybrid powertrain (likely based on the Stellantis group’s ubiquitous 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech petrol engine) in certain markets to drag the price down to a more affordable level.
He explained: ‘We are in a world where people cannot afford to pay always £40,000 for a car. So, I will have a hybrid version – an MHEV version – in parallel.’ Despite this, there are no guarantees the hybrid model will be sold in the UK, especially if EV sales continue their upward trajectory. Imparato said: ‘I can easily send the car either on BEV or MHEV. For me, the engine is not something that we can anymore use as a differentiator.’
‘I can easily say okay – in UK, if you want to be BEV guys, that’s no problem. Netherlands – you want to be full BEV? No problem. Italy? No, because I know that Italy needs some hybrid versions. But it’s completely feasible. It’s the same Alfa Romeo whatever the engine.’
Imparato also walked us through his new SUV’s straightforward trim range, which closely follows the conventions set out by the Tonale. The system was designed to suit Alfa’s new online sales model, which will be rolled out over the next couple of years.
‘Two engines, two trims, two packs, five options put same everywhere,’ he said. ‘Net pricing, same range, super simple – because you would switch to selling online in parallel with your guys in the [dealer] network, with exactly the same price for everybody, whatever the country.’
What will Alfa’s new baby SUV be called?
Alfa is still being coy about the SUV’s name, but Jean-Philippe has hinted it’ll be inspired by the company’s back catalogue. When quizzed on the matter, he said: ‘Okay, let’s take back all of the data since the beginning, right? 8C, 6C, Cento, Cinquento – everything. So, you have a pizza of the ingredients.
‘We put everything on the pizza – but what is the choice? It’s more a name? It’s more numbers? So how do we disrupt without betraying our history? To answer your question, the naming strategy we have will be far more driven by the respect we have towards our history, okay?
‘The naming strategy will be absolutely Italian rooted. Absolutely. And that’s important you see, because if in this context, where you have all the worldwide competition coming to us, we have to be straight sharp in our position. You should derail, you open a pandora box and you can have an issue. Do not derail. You are Alfa Romeo. You are Italian. You are sportiness. Do your job like that.’