Home » Alfa Romeo Makes History By Building A Truly Ugly Car

Alfa Romeo Makes History By Building A Truly Ugly Car

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With entry-level electric cars popping up in every corner of Stellantis’ European brands, it was only a matter of time before Alfa Romeo got one. Could it have been a dashing little hatchback with fierce looks and city-wise handling? Possibly, but in the crossover-crazy world of 2024, that’s not what we ended up with. This is the Alfa Romeo Milano, a Franco-Italian crossover that breaks with Alfa Romeo tradition by not being pretty.

First, a little primer on what the Alfa Romeo Milano is. While in the days of old, a Milano was the American version of the BMW-baiting 75 sports sedan, this new Milano is an entry-level crossover that slots beneath the Tonale (read: Dodge Hornet) in the Alfa Romeo lineup. As you’d probably expect from a product like this launching in 2024, it’s electrified, with two electric powertrains and one hybridized three-cylinder rounding out the lineup. The feistiest EV gets 237 horsepower and can be ordered in Veloce spec with a limited-slip front differential, sports suspension, and four-piston front calipers. The other EV drivetrain on offer put out a mere 154 horsepower, but regardless of output, both electric models use a 54 kWh battery pack, can DC fast charge at 100 kWh, and are exclusively front-wheel-drive.

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As for the three-cylinder hybrid, it pairs a 1.2-liter turbocharged engine with a 28-horsepower electric motor and a six-speed DCT automatic and can be ordered with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. On paper, it seems like a cromulent competitor to entry-level European-market BMW X1s and Mercedes-Benz GLAs, but there’s just one thing holding it back. As I mentioned earlier, this Alfa Romeo has some questionable styling choices that go against Alfa’s history of relatively good taste.

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If you’re looking to find the problem, you won’t see it from the back. Sure, the rear valence has jowls for some reason, but the surfacing of the tailgate is very Italianate, and there’s nothing back here that’s offensive. Boring? Perhaps. The giant slab of plastic on the bumper is utilitarian but downmarket, and the taillights are merely okay. However, okay isn’t ugly. A stick of butter looks okay. A standard light switch looks okay. Okay is perfectly acceptable, and better than ugly.

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Things improve around the side, especially with the fantastic four-spoke wheels, and the remarkable clean surfacing. Sure, one could argue that all the textured plastic around the greenhouse, with big slabs used in the rear door handle and floating C-pillar treatment, looks a bit cheap. One could also argue that the short dash-to-axle ratio leaves the leading edge of the front door looking a little pinched. However, given the limitations of the platform, that last point seems acceptable. The eCMP architecture underpinning the Alfa Romeo Milano also can be found under the Opel Mokka-e and Corsa-e, Jeep Avenger, Fiat 600e, Peugeot e-208 and e-2008, Citroen e-C4 and e-C4X, Lancia Ypsilon, DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, and Dongfeng Aeolus Yixuan EV. It’s an electrified economy car platform, and Alfa Romeo has done remarkably well with it.

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However, as soon as you move around to the front of the Alfa Romeo Milano, you’ll see what the problem is. For one, the additional grillework coming off of the headlights adds more than a hint of Renault to the down-the-road graphic. Considering Alfa Romeo’s position as a premium brand, that certainly isn’t the treatment I’d go for, and it’s not the only odd choice on the front of the car. Alfa’s made its trademark scudetto grille surprisingly busy, with a blown-up version of the serpent and cross that appears on the Alfa Romeo Logo blocking the aperture on electric models, and giant Alfa Romeo script in the grille of combustion models. The former is tacky, the latter is out of place on a modern crossover, and looks out of proportion due to how relatively small the scudetto is. To make way for advanced driver assistance system sensors, it doesn’t extend particularly far into the lower grille, meaning there isn’t quite enough real estate available to do what Alfa Romeo wants to do. Add in air curtains that aren’t harmonized with anything in particular, and you have the recipe for an ugly nose.

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Of course, it also doesn’t help that the dashboard is vaguely reminiscent of a 2017 Toyota Corolla, from the touchscreen integration to the round air vents. Sure, it’s not as flat-faced, and it sports a full digital instrument cluster, but apart from some aggressive bucket seats, there’s not a whole lot in here that screams luxury.

Perhaps thankfully, or confusingly depending on how you want to look at it, the new Alfa Romeo Milano isn’t coming to North America. However, on the face of it, there isn’t much reason to buy one over its eCMP platform-mates. The Lancia Ypsilon has a more interesting interior, the Jeep Avenger looks more handsome, and there’s a solid chance the Opel Corsa-e will be less expensive to buy. With a product like this, you can’t help but wonder if Alfa Romeo’s renaissance is fading, and it almost makes me worried for the future of the storied Italian marque. Then again, it’s not like many of us bought Giulias, so maybe this is what we deserve.

(Photo credits: Alfa Romeo)

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MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
2 months ago

There’s been talk around this site about a revival of the Omni GLHS (The Rivian R3 giving off Omni vibes and Bishop drawing out a supposed GLHS based on the Hyundai Ioniq5). This is it, right here. Bring this over to slot under the Hornet. give it some restyling similar to what Bishop has done, and sell it as the Dodge GLH. The sportiest model would be called the GLHS. Give it an 80s retro sticker pack as well.

Last edited 2 months ago by MikuhlBrian
Donfuy
Donfuy
2 months ago

I struggle to understand how people are so offended by the front-end when that rear-end is so egregiously awful in ten thousand indescribable ways. You’re supposed to make it seem lower and wider, not taller and skinny!

The Tonale (and many other modern SUVs like the Macan) suffers in the same end. Good presence from front 3/4 and then completely falls apart from the rear 3/4, ESPECIALLY in real life.

P.S.: This does not mean I think the front end is good. The Renault comparisons are fair. But it still has good presence and identity.

AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
2 months ago

There is a literal shitstorm in the comments under the official reveal video. Let’s see how it goes. I for one am happy to have an option for an Alfa daily commuter, besides my other/older Alfas.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
2 months ago

I like it, but I am an asshole.

Schrödinger's Catbox
Schrödinger's Catbox
2 months ago

Disagreeing here. I like that it’s something different. In the US, Alfa is associated with upmarket, but not necessarily so elsewhere.

There’s some pieces in front that will likely see a refresh in a couple years, and aftermarket companies will line up quickly to sell snap-on Alfa snake and cross parts in color. Or that light up.

The interior looks like a pretty nice place to be too. For a budget Alfa, that’s a sharp looking setup.

If you want an example of brutto right here in the US of A, the Hornet is waving to you wildly while you try so hard to unsee it.

Dodge dealers would love nothing more than to unload one of these turds featuring who gives a shit styling and build quality sell that fine example of dull design encompassing an expensive collection of fail to you.

David Puckett
David Puckett
2 months ago

Ugly compared to what? It looks identical to nearly all the recent SUVs to hit the market, whether ICE or EV.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
2 months ago
Reply to  David Puckett

Have you seen the grille? It’s hideous!

Fourmotioneer
Fourmotioneer
2 months ago

*Wipes all-dressed chips dust onto sweatpants* Time to pick out a flawless compact crossover on the internet…

Dingus
Dingus
2 months ago
Reply to  Fourmotioneer

I think the beef is that Alfa shouldn’t be making low-rent shitstain crossovers. They’re supposed to be special. This thing is not special and it cheapens the brand. It is also ugly.

Yeah, carmaker has to make money, but if they’re part of a brand portfolio, then keep them higher-end and leave the low end to Opel or whatever. This stinks of a Lexus NX or Acura ILX.

Schrödinger's Catbox
Schrödinger's Catbox
2 months ago
Reply to  Dingus

Your point is important for North American sales for sure. In the US, Alfa is sold as a premium branded vehicle. But that’s not always been the case elsewhere in the world.

Automakers seem to cyclically attempt this cynical exercise. The results are pretty predictable and it takes time to wash that stink off.

Still, this new Alfa isn’t terrible. I’ve already dragged the Dodge Hornet in another comment. But, one could make plenty of jokes about how the Hornet is the real Alfa in that paring, based solely on all the issues that come as standard equipment.

Infiniti is in the same place with their barely disguised and hilariously expensive Armada clone, but one could lay that at the feet of their corporate three-ringed circus distracting them from defining this brand.

Stellantis appears to have ignored history and chose hubris instead. For instance, look at the Chrysler 200, which was a flawed rehash of the Giulietta, which also begat the Dart. Or the Caliber turned Patriot/Compass. Or the Fiat 500/Jeep Renegade.

AMC made do with what they had and were crafty. Somehow at Chrysler/Stellantis, that morphed into cynical half-assed products that GM could only dream of slapping together from the parts bin.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
2 months ago

If there was a way to get the people at Stellantis who just want to make a living or build a real product out from under while management and the engineers continue to baton roue meme themselves to oblivion I’d say let them.

The company’s run its’ course.

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