The Alfa Romeo Sportut: sporting performance meets functionality. After the Fiat-based Enduro, Bertone returned to explore the concept of the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle), the cross between a leisure vehicle and an off-roader.
Bertone opted to start from a very popular Alfa Romeo model, the Alfa 145, and created a prototype that was all about originality. Even the name itself: “Sportut” is the American expression “Sport-ute,” as SUVs are known across the pond, translated into the local Piedmont dialect, meaning something like “sports galore.”
Presented at the 1997 Geneva Motor Show, the Sportut came about as a prototype for a European SUV and was conceived as a production car. The choice of an Alfa Romeo engine meant being able to accentuate the car’s sporty character, even in the case of a model as popular as the 145. The Sportut was an all-terrain sports vehicle, equally at home in town or off-road, but without exaggerating on the jeep side. The lines originate from the frontal view, built around the classic Alfa Romeo radiator grille. The styling of the wing recalls some motifs used on the Enduro and Slalom concept cars, and thanks to the idea of fitting the rear door handle directly onto the pillar – which also appeared on the Alfa 156 in the same year – the obvious sporty character of the coupé conceals the functionality of a four-door car. The tail tapers upwards, bound by the generous rear windscreen. Some details, like the lights built into the external rearview mirror housing, the front headlamps, and the “bubble” curve of the rear windscreen, are pure concept car sophistication. Still, as a whole, the Sportut was an idea expressly designed for production. It aimed to show how an “aristocratic” manufacturer like Alfa Romeo could enter the SUV niche and develop a functional model that would also reflect the marque’s strong, aggressive, stylish personality.