Alfa Romeo Stelvio - Now With Added Fizz
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The market grows ever more crowded with SUVs as manufacturers clamour for a piece of the action. Will the car-buying public ever tire of them? I doubt it, but as I spend much of my time putting different models through their paces, I can confirm that some are definitely better than others.
Alfa Romeo launched their Stelvio last year and it has some stiff competition. The German triumvirate of BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5 are all strong contenders, whilst closer to home Jaguar Land Rover offer the F-PACE and Discovery Sport. Last but by no means least is the Volvo XC60.
In terms of showroom appeal, Alfa’s first foray into the world of SUVs looks to be off to a good start. The name itself has huge amount of appeal, especially to those with a keen interest in cars. However, visually the Stelvio stands out from the crowd with stylish good looks echoing the new Giulia saloon.
With an ever-growing move away from diesel power, Alfa Romeo has just fitted the Stelvio with a powerful new 280hp 2.0-litre petrol engine. Time for another drive...
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Unlike the diesel version I tested earlier this year, the petrol motor sounds superb even when fully extended right up to the red line.
Aiding swift progress is the standard fit ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a smooth operator and can deliver quick changes when required.
We’ve already established that the Stelvio is not short of power, but of great interest to the enthusiast driver is how the car handles. Extensive use of aluminium ensures that the Stelvio is a lightweight and weight distribution is a near perfect 50:50.
Find a challenging road, select your gears with the aluminium paddles and prepare to be amazed! The Stelvio feels light on its feet and changes direction sweetly. Thanks to the high-geared steering, little steering input is required. Body roll is well contained and on a damp road the AWD system keeps you safely pointing in the right direction.
Low speed ride is definitely on the firm side, but this pays dividends when exiting the confines of the city. I would be careful with alloy wheel selection and stick with the standard 18” offerings.
The Jaguar F-PACE runs the Stelvio closest for driving appeal, but ultimately can’t muster up a sufficient arsenal of weapons to compete.
All the Stelvio’s get up and go is not at the expense of economy. Alfa Romeo quotes 40.4mpg for the combined cycle – I would expect to achieve early 30s in mixed running. CO2 emissions are a 161g/km.
Along with the smart exterior, the Stelvio boasts a spacious, modern cabin. There’s plenty of space for four large adults to spread and a capacious 525-litre boot.
Fit and finish is fine without being outstanding. It’s here that the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 play their trump card, with outstanding materials and design.
In order to make the best of the interior, I would pick a light colour and add a little metal or wood to the dash.
The 8.8” touchscreen works well and includes satellite navigation on all but the entry level model. This is TomTom based and is easy to use, but the rotary controller is made from rather poor quality plastic.
Equipment levels are high as befits the Stelvio’s premium pricing, but I would add a few indulgences from the options list. Active cruise control (£990) is a must for our crowded roads and the Alfa Dynamic Suspension looks good value at a mere £400.
The Stelvio is a great first effort from Alfa Romeo in the burgeoning SUV market. Infused with the marque’s sporting DNA, for the keen driver looking for a family SUV there is much fun to be had and it could well be the default choice. This petrol engine will delight the enthusiast driver without too much of a penalty at the pumps.
However, life is never so straightforward and I can see why many heads will be turned by the array of talented rivals. Classy interiors, prestige badge, German engineering....
However, if you are reading this column I suspect you are a car enthusiast, so rush down to your nearest Alfa Romeo dealer and take test drive. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Fast Facts (as tested)
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 AWD Speciale
Price: £43,705 (£48,490 with options)
280hp 1,995cc petrol engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 5.7 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Combined economy 40.4mpg
Emissions 161g/km Co2
Alfa Romeo Stelvio - Now With Added Fizz, 27th September 2018, 6:49 AM