This could be the worst kept secret of the automotive world — Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio SUV. This week our spy has spotted a thinly disguised version of the 4x4 undergoing testing and now that it’s dropped the plastic camouflage, the overall silhouette of the car is more apparent.

The roof line is decidedly production ready and in profile it seems closer to the Jaguar F-Pace than anything from its German rivals.

Despite the black and white disguise some of the elements of the front are easily discernible. The grille and the air intakes are reminiscent of the Giulia saloon, as are the prominent headlights.

The compact SUV will be Alfa’s first foray in the busy crossover segment and is expected to be a money spinner for the storied Italian manufacturer. Tipped to be revealed at the Los Angeles motor show, the Stelvio will go against the likes of the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Audi Q5, although the Alfa would likely be priced much more competitively.

The standard engine is almost certainly going to be the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit from the entry level Giulia saloon. However, and this is extremely probable too, the sports saloon’s 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine could also find its way in to the Stelvio’s bay. The hot Stelvio Quadrifoglio Verde would go head to head with the likes of the 367 horsepower Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupé and will almost assuredly bring 400-plus to the party to comprehensively trash its foes in the performance department.

If the Stelvio SUV does get its reveal at the LA motor show in November — although we wouldn’t bet on it given Alfa Romeo’s tendency to be, let’s say, fluid with its plans — it could go on sale as early as mid-2017 as a 2018 model.