The original Alfa Romeo SUV.

Name: Alfa Romeo Kamal

Debuted: 2003 Geneva Motor Show

Specs: V6 3.2-litre engine with 250 hp, 221 lb-ft torque, all-wheel drive with three differentials, six-speed sequential gearbox, 200+ km/h top speed

Why We Remember It Now:

With the Stelvio taking center stage at the Los Angeles Auto Show as Alfa Romeo’s first production SUV, we have decided to take a look at the concept that signaled the brand’s intentions towards dipping its toes into the now much-disputed segment.

Alfa’s lineup 13 years ago was pretty amazing, with models such as the 147, 156, GT, GTV, Spider, 166, and the GT creating a nice family portrait. In 2003, the Kamal concept came out and proposed a new and entirely different addition to model range, but it never evolved to become a production vehicle.

Significantly smaller than the Stelvio, the Kamal was envisioned as a proper SUV with an all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring capabilities and three differentials to give it some real off-road credentials. It still had to be as sporty as one would expect an Alfa Romeo to be, so the engineers gave it an independent suspension at both axles and a fast Selespeed six-speed sequential gearbox with electronic clutch developed by Magneti Marelli.

2003 Alfa Romeo Kamal

Much like the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the Kamal concept had quad exhaust tips denoting there was something strong lurking underneath the hood. It too had a V6 engine, a 3.2-liter taken from the 147 GTA with a healthy 250 hp (186 kW) and 221 lb-ft (300 Nm) delivered to 20-inch alloy wheels shod in Pirelli Scorpion tires created specifically for the concept. Back in the day, Alfa Romeo said the Kamal topped out at more than 124 mph (200 kph), although that was just an estimation.

Images of the interior cabin were never released, only several design sketches. Alfa Romeo did say the concept had side-hinged rear doors activated by an internal mechanism and a rear window that opened independently of the tailgate, which had a split opening to boost practicality. A spacious 400-litre trunk gave it the “internal versatility of an MPV,” according to the original press release from 2003 attached below for your reading pleasure.

Alfa Romeo Kamal trademark

The “Kamal” name might return in the years to come for another high-riding Alfa taking into account the FCA-owned company registered the moniker with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in April this year. There are two SUVs on Alfa’s agenda until 2020, so a “Kamal” could be one of them to slot below the Stelvio.

Seeing as how sales of crossovers and SUVs have exploded in recent years, the Kamal was probably a missed opportunity. But the Stelvio is finally out now, so better late than never…

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