The first Alfa Romeo SUV is a stylish and sporting option
- Strong candidate for best-looking SUV on sale
- Refreshingly sporty driving experience
- Powerful engines and low weight
- Generous standard equipment, big boot
- Stands out from the German crowd
- Firm ride, especially on petrol models
- Limited choice of engine, trim and options
- Key rivals still better to drive
- Interior quality not premium enough
- Lacks the latest gadget choice
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the first SUV in the Italian carmaker’s 100-year history. It’s based on the same platform and technology as the Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon, and it aims to bring both style and a sporty driving experience to the mid-size premium SUV segment.
The name Stelvio comes from the highest alpine pass in Italy – a road famed for its numerous hairpin corners, which challenge and reward keen drivers. The Stelvio uses Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel drive system.
Powerful engines but limited choice
At launch the Stelvio is available with only two engines and three standard trim levels: Stelvio, Stelvio Super and Stelvio Tecnica.
All Stelvios are generously equipped, including a number of the latest active safety technologies, as well as the DNA driving mode selector and 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Engine choice comprises one petrol and one diesel – both are four-cylinder turbocharged units.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox and Q4 all-wheel drive system come as standard. The 2.0-litre petrol produces 280hp, while the 2.2-litre diesel produces 210hp. Performance is certainly brisk, with 0-62mph taking as little as 5.7sec and top speed rated at up to 143mph.
Both represent attractive proposition, though most will likely choose the additional economy of the diesel over the extra performance of the petrol. In time, Alfa Romeo will introduce a range-topping Stelvio Quadrifoglio, powered by the same turbocharged V6 as the Giulia Quadrifoglio.
This promises to be very, very fast indeed.A 180hp rear-wheel drive only version of the 2.2-litre diesel, and a 200hp 2.0-litre petrol are also planned for the future.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio has to be among the prettiest SUVs
While you wouldn’t necessarily equate a car of these ungainly proportions with decent looks, Alfa’s design department has been doing what it does best, and the result is a machine that looks, well, not half bad.
It’s certainly up there in the aesthetic arena with the Porsche Macan and Renault’s Kadjar – two cars we’d say are the better-looking of the SUVs on sale.
What’s in a name?
Ensuring that it handles the corners as well as the straights, Alfa Romeo has given the Stelvio particularly sharp steering – far sharper than any other SUV – and a sophisticated ‘Alfalink’ suspension design.
Both aspects are similar to the Giulia, but redeveloped for the extra mass and increased ride-height of an SUV. The results are impressive, as the Stelvio does a great job of resisting body roll. But the firmness necessary to achieve this does come at the cost of some ride comfort.
Interior quality isn’t quite up with the best in the class, and most competitors offer a greater number of high-tech options. But you may find the design inside and out attractive enough to forgive this.It’s a very likeable vehicle overall, with distinctive character and plenty of performance.
We would seriously consider choosing one over an F-Pace, though perhaps not over a Porsche Macan.
The Stelvio’s driving experience is good, but doesn’t quite get under your skin in the same way. The Alfa Romeo is more practical than the Porsche, however.