Oh, Alfa Romeo, honey, no

I was more than a little disturbed to see this assertion from Alfa Romeo pop up in my Twitter feed recently:

…and I couldn’t quite hide my disgust:

My response was perhaps a bit more dictatorial than it needed to be; who am I to tell Alfa Romeo what values they can and cannot embrace?

What chafes is that, as an enthusiast with some knowledge of Alfa and its history, I see the Stelvio as a necessary evil, not a core product with a strong connection to the brand’s DNA (which they so cutesily tout with their “DNA” drive mode selector). Alfa wants to be a player in the mainstream luxury market, and they’re attempting to break into the tough U.S. market, and midsize crossovers are what sells, so Alfa needs one. And by all accounts the Stelvio is a decent one! But it doesn’t get to the heart and soul of what an Alfa Romeo is—the “purest Alfa Romeo driving experience,” if you will—because payload and cargo capacity and family friendliness are not core Alfa Romeo traits.

I don’t begrudge anyone who feels that they need payload and cargo capacity and family friendliness, but wants a more spirited driving experience, and I hope that those people buy lots of Stelvios—so that we can have other, purer Alfa Romeos. I have a feeling, though, that most Stelvio buyers won’t really care about whatever essentially “Alfa” traits it has, and will buy it because it looks good and isn’t a Lexus or Mercedes like their neighbors drive.

Alfa doesn’t want to be, and can’t afford to be, merely a heritage brand peddling new Spiders and GTVs in minuscule numbers, but it also can’t ignore that its heritage, and the traits that it has preserved from its heritage, are what differentiate it from other luxury car brands.

Does the Stelvio represent Alfa Romeo’s purest driving experience? It may be good, for what it is, but god, I hope not.

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