This is the second new model from Alfa Romeo in two years. True to its promise, the Italian manufacturer continues to expand its range with more competitive products that should boost sales and increase its presence around the world.

The new Alfa Romeo Junior (previously known as Milano) is Stellantis' latest attempt to bring more volume and new customers to this historic brand. But what does the future hold for this new small SUV?

A top-of-the-range alternative for the general public

The Junior is positioned at the top end of the compact SUV segment. As a premium brand, Alfa Romeo intends to position its new model as a more exclusive, elegant and refined alternative to most of the choices available in Europe today.

The B-SUV segment is not a minor one in the region. Its sales took off in 2010, when Dacia, Mini and Nissan introduced the Duster, Countryman and Juke respectively. This was followed by the Opel-Vauxhall Mokka in 2012, and the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 in 2013. Then came the Jeep Renegade in 2014, the Fiat 500X in 2015 and the Audi Q2 in 2016. After 2017, other brands such as Hyundai, Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Toyota and Citroën also joined the party.

Small SUV market share 2014 to 2023 - graphic

Small SUV market share 2014 to 2023 - graphic

Today, the segment in Europe comprises 42 different models that sold 2.33 million units last year. That's 15% more than in 2022. B-SUVs were the second largest segment in Europe in terms of volume in 2023, accounting for 18% of all new car registrations. Their market share was 14.5% in 2019 (before the pandemic) and just 6.7% in 2014, ten years ago.

Small electric B-SUV registrations in 2023 - graphic

Small electric B-SUV registrations in 2023 - graphic

Until now, the leading players in the premium segment have been the Audi Q2, the Mini Countryman, the DS 3 and, more recently, the smart #1 and the Volvo EX30. These four models accounted for just 5.6% of the segment's volume in 2023. The latest generation of the Countryman has now been placed in the C-SUV segment, and the Q2 e-tron could join the list from 2026, with a new generation of engines and a new starting price of around €45,000 (£38,500).

It all depends on price and powertrains

The Junior is a milestone for Alfa Romeo. It will certainly become the brand's best-selling model, given that it will be the most affordable. It is part of a fast-growing segment that is not only popular but also a major source of profits. This means that there is still room for new players like the Junior, even though the brand arrived 14 years after the segment took off.

Its potential will depend on the price of the Junior and the engines available. It is based on the Jeep Avenger, so, like the Jeep Compass and the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which are also similar, the price could be on average around 10% higher than that of the little Jeep.

Electric compact SUVs are still few in numbers - graphic

Electric compact SUVs are still few in numbers - graphic

The electric version will have to compete with the No. 1 smart (starting price in UK £38,950), the Volvo EX30 (£33,795) and the electric version of the DS 3 (£36,715). In any case, pure electric B-SUVs accounted for just 6% of total B-SUV registrations last year.

The light hybrid version will compete with the popular Ford Puma, Suzuki Vitara, Renault Captur, Kia Stonic and Hyundai Bayon. Light hybrid B-SUVs found 344,000 new customers in 2023. Will the Junior be able to attract attention and conquer a significant share of this particular segment?

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an automotive industry specialist at JATO Dynamics.

Gallery: Alfa Romeo Milano