Parkers overall rating: 3.7 out of 5 3.7
  • Cabin quality not up to upmarket rivals' standards
  • Design is clear and easy to use, though
  • Gorgeous aluminium paddleshifters

At first glance the Stelvio’s interior looks rather alluring – there’s what appears to be a large widescreen display for the infotainment in the centre and some interesting choices of aluminium and wood trim depending on how you spec the car. There's a good choice of colours for the leather too.

Get closer, however, and the quality sadly seems more family hatchback than premium exec. It's at least on par with the Jaguar F-Pace, but lags behind the likes of the Audi Q5. Not only that, you soon realise that the limited amount of button clutter is because it doesn’t really have that much tech, plus the screen isn’t as big as it seems, as there’s a large bezel on either side of the square display area.

You really notice where Alfa has cut costs when you touch the large airvents on either side of the dash - they're constructed of very flimsy-feeling plastic that feels as if it'll break in short order.

Still, the rotary controller makes the infotainment system easy to navigate and the menu system is easy to understand. Shame the gloss top of the controller is a magnet for fingerprints, and the rotating mechanism doesn’t feel as premium as rival equivalents from BMW and Audi.

The uncovered – but illuminated – USB port positioned off-centre in the middle console seems haphazard as well. On a more positive note, the vast, column-mounted paddleshifters for the automatic transmission are gorgeous pieces of aluminium art, making an already great gearbox a pleasure to use, while the seats are excellent on all versions.

Interior improvements for 2020

To help the Stelvio keep pace with its more impressively trimmed rivals, an update in 2020 added some much-needed interior tweaks, overcoming some of its shortcomings compared with its German rivals.

The 2020 car is much better in some key areas – namely the newly leather wrapped gearshifter, which previously had a rough plastic edge to catch your fingers on.

A raft of new autonomy tech means a new wheel with extra buttons to control it (more info in the safety section) with a slightly wider feel around the rim, but still not quite as chunky as what BMW offers, thankfully.

The 8.8 inch screen remains but it now features touch control and drag and drop widgets, so you can set up a homepage with the functions you want on it, rather than hunting through confusing menus.

You can still control this with the rotary dial in the centre console – and this feels much less wobbly, which is great news. The 7.0-inch driver’s screen now features more information such as the various autonomous functions.

Quadrifoglio interior is lacking

Here’s where the Stelvio Quadrioglio starts to stumble against similarly priced rivals. The dashboard design is handsome enough and the huge metal gearshift paddles mounted behind the wheel look and feel fabulous. But other materials fall below the standards set by its rivals - it's no more special than the regular Stelvio. The eight-speed automatic’s gear selector looks like a BMW one, but feels much cheaper. 

Same for the infotainment control wheel, while the media system has a disappointingly low-resolution screen, and there are no trick options like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument pack.

This might all be forgivable at the lower end of the Stelvio range, but when you can option-up a Quadrifoglio towards £90,000, you might find the absence of a head-up display, or fully power-adjustable, heated seats on the Sparco carbon-shelled items a little stingy.

Is the Stelvio comfortable?

  • Firm suspension on most models
  • Diesel comfort is best…
  • But its refinement could be better

This is where you start to pay the price for that keen cornering capability. To keep a big, tall car like the Stelvio upright in the turns you need firm suspension, and this does have an impact on ride comfort.

The diesel feels impressively well damped at first – especially considering  it can come fitted with larger 19-inch alloy wheels (17-inch and 18-inch are standard, depending on trim level). However, on less pristine surfaces it begins to exhibit a jiggling sensation that if not actually uncomfortable, certainly veers strongly towards the annoying. 

By comparison, the petrol – also available with 19-inch wheels – immediately feels firmer, more uncompromising, and more unsettled at the back. The petrol is dynamically superior to the diesel, so this makes some sense. The engines can be a little gruff as well - both petrol and diesel - and that you can hear a little too much of the diesel for a premium car.

Road noise is on a par with some rivals, though, even on the optional 19-inch alloy wheels. An optional Performance Pack is available which furnishes the Stelvio with a more sophisticated suspension setup from the Quadrifoglio, but this actually makes regular versions more comfortable. This could be worth specifying as it makes it a lot less fidgety around town and on rougher surfaces. That said, it's still a more jiggly affair than an equivalent Volvo XC60 or Mercedes GLC.

Quadrifoglio comfort compromised

Those heavily bolstered seats offer a great blend of comfort and support, but those with deeper pockets can opt for the Giulia’s sexy carbon-backed bucket seats. Be warned though: they look fantastic but are far less comfortable on longer trips. 

Adaptive suspension is standard and the mode can be selected independently of the four (Eco, Normal, Dynamic, Race) driving modes. Switch the dampers to stiff mode and the otherwise good ride comfort deteriorates markedly.

The brakes can be a pain, too. Not only are the discs carbon-ceramic, but they're electronically controlled – as they are on the Giulia - and the inconsistent feel from the brake pedal makes them awkward to modulate at low speeds, even if the actual stopping power is effective.