Alfa Romeo Renames Milano SUV Just Days After Revealing It

1 month, 1 week ago - 17. April 2024, caradisiac
Alfa Romeo Renames Milano SUV Just Days After Revealing It
The Italian government wouldn't let Alfa Romeo sell a car built in Poland with the name of an Italian city, so changes had to be made.

The ink hasn't yet dried on the reveal articles for the Alfa Romeo Milano SUV, the little brother to the Tonale and Stelvio, and already the Italian brand has had to change its name, with the subcompact crossover officially being rechristened the Alfa Romeo Junior today. That's because Alfa Romeo committed a cardinal sin, producing the crossover in Poland (the first Alfa to be produced outside of Italy) and then naming it after an iconic Italian city. Such an error was so egregious that Alfa Romeo drew the ire of the Italian government, which lashed out at the automaker on Friday:

"A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law."
- Adolfo Urso, Italian Minister of Economic Development

In a brief press release, Alfa Romeo states that it believed all legal requirements were met to use the name. It also said that it believes "there are issues much more important than the name of a new car." But despite this, the decision was taken to rename the crossover as the Alfa Romeo Junior "in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding."

Milano Name Meant To Pay Tribute To Alfa's Birthplace

The Milano name was chosen to honor the city where Alfa Romeo was founded in 1910 and was chosen by public vote, suggesting that it had the support of the people. Alfa has a history of doing this, having let the public decide upon the name 'Duetto' for the 1966 Spider 1600. But unlike Duetto, Milano touched a nerve in the most Italian way possible. And it's something the brand maybe should've been aware of; after all, this was the company that chose not to build an Alfa Romeo-badged Mazda Miata if it wasn't going to be built in Italy, leading to the birth of the Fiat 124 Spider.

We can't remember when such a last-minute name change has been forced upon a carmaker, with the closest similar situation being Mini renaming its Corona Spoke wheel for the Cooper SE in 2020 after a virus of the same name brought the world to a standstill. But the name of a wheel is one thing, the name of a car is another. Given the immense amount of marketing budget spent on billboards and global reveal parties, this will be a huge cash flush for Alfa Romeo. Beyond the financial damage, a faux pas like this will stick with the brand forever.

Alfa Romeo Will Always Be Remembered For This Moment

"We are perfectly aware that this moment will remain engraved in the history of the brand," says Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato. "It's a great responsibility but at the same time it's an exciting moment. The choice of the name Junior is completely natural, as it is strongly linked to the history of the brand and has been among our favorites and among the public's favorites since the beginning." While the Milano is a global car and could be named as such in countries outside of Italy, Imparato says that Alfa "decided to change the name, even though we know that we are not required to do so, because we want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always generated and avoid any type of controversy."

The Junior Name Steeped In Alfa Romeo's History

The replacement name chosen is equally as relevant for the brand. While it might not be the city of the brand's origin, the Junior name has been used before. Derived from the Giulia, the 1966 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior was a stab at attracting a younger audience into the Alfa Romeo family. It was also used on versions of the Alfa Romeo Spider. Alfa also exploited the name for a special edition Stelvio in 2021.

The GT Junior is the car most of us will associate the Junior nameplate with, as it's a masterpiece of design and driving pleasure, despite sporting just 89 horsepower and having a 105-mph top speed. Comparatively, even the tamest new Milano/Junior has 134 hp, and the range-topping EV, the Junior Veloce, has 237 hp. Those figures will remain unchanged, as will everything else, with only the name badge being replaced. Let this be a lesson that the only thing Italians hate more than pineapple on pizza is cars bearing the names of Italian cities not being produced in Italy.

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