Alfa Romeo Sportut by Bertone

An off-roader that I see lots of potential interest in is a reborn Alfa Romeo Matta, based on next-generation Jeep Wrangler platform and powered by a 4- or 6-cylinder engines. But how would you explain such a vehicle? A more rugged Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, say, or a high-riding Subaru WRX? A premium, European, Raptor-ized Ford Bronco, even?

More important: Does "Dakar-ready Alfa Romeo" make anyone else here weak in the knees?

A vehicle like that, designed to both jump curbs in front of the Gawker office and haul respectable ass around a rallycross circuit would be one I'd stand in line for. Give the race trucks Repsol sponsorship and invite Valentino Rossi to do Dakar. Forget chasing after the latest BMW…

Less than twenty years ago, Bertone showed the Alfa Romeo Sportut, which is only about five years behind where a production version would have to be at for 2017. To start with, its face is already crazier than the Nissan Juke and Jeep Grand Cherokee—the marker lights are mounted above the hood, in the side mirrors! Take that, Juke!

Its two-tone finish, rims, and spare tire-aping hatch are quite '90s, but the overall size and idea would likely sell well today…provided the crossover market stays hot. Based on the compact Alfa Romeo 145, the Sportut was envisioned to be more like the contemporary Mazda CX-3, and not a dune-bashing buggy. With all-wheel-drive, 5-speed manual, and 155 horsepower 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine, however, it still would have been a fun truck to drive around in. 

If only that combination wasn't so rare here in a 'ute… 

First shown at the 1997 Geneva Motor Show, I find it odd that Bertone was able to both accurately predict the sorts of vehicles we'd be coveting less than twenty years later and design a concept for a company that has now all but abandoned its populist (read: inexpensive) lineup.

But before you get your hopes up in finding the Sportut and pressing it into school run duty, the concept was a non-running styling mock-up. Boo.