The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the Italian firm’s sporty SUV, with rivals such as the Porsche Macan firmly in its sights. Engines range from a frugal diesel to a powerful V6, with engineering know-how borrowed from Maserati. There’s space inside for all the family and plenty of safety kit to keep them secure.
The Stelvio is unmistakably an Alfa, with that triangular grille and wrap-around headlights. There are large air intakes in the bumper, a contoured bonnet and big alloy wheels. Yes, it’s an SUV. Yet, its sporting pretensions are clear and present, even with the lower-powered engines under the bonnet.
The styling gets more aggressive with the flagship Quadrifoglio’s V6 installed – there are more air intakes, the wheels are larger (and a different colour) and there’s a subtle yet effective body kit.
A facelift for the Alfa Stelvio in 2020 tweaked the rear end and flanks. Most of the changes concerned the interior.
The Stelvio is unmistakably an Alfa, with that triangular grille and wrap-around headlights.
What’s it like to drive?
The Stelvio is quite simply phenomenal to drive. And yes, we’re saying that about an SUV. The incredibly quick, direct steering makes it feel much more nimble than its shape would suggest. The body is also well controlled on bends, with little lean.
Inevitably, the ride is pretty firm, with some rivals doing a better job of dealing with bumps (at the expense of handling). The Stelvio is very much a driver’s car.
Engines kick off with a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2 diesel, all of which provide enough power on every road type. The flagship – the Stelvio Quadrifoglio – gets a bi-turbo 2.9-litre V6 engine for a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds. Astonishing.
The Stelvio is quite simply phenomenal to drive.
Sit in the driver’s seat and it won’t take you long to find a great position, thanks to a wide range of adjustments. You’re greeted with a typically Alfa interior - it’s full of flair, with a couple of instrument pods separated by a digital screen ahead of the driver. There’s a neatly integrated 6.5-inch entertainment screen in the middle of the dashboard.
The rest of the dash is topped by soft-touch plastics or leather and inlayed with metal or carbon fibre trim. Some rivals (we’re looking at you, Audi Q5) feel even classier. The main touchscreen is also controlled by a dial behind the gear lever and there are separate controls for the climate control ahead of it.
All Stelvios have cruise control, auto lights and wipers, a powered tailgate, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and front and rear parking sensors. The latter is useful because the rear pillars are fairly thick.
Move up to Super trim and you get part-leather trim on the seats, as well as Sport/Luxury packs. Business trim adds sat-nav and bi-xenon headlights. Speciale heats the front seats and folds the door mirrors electrically. The facelift in 2020 boosted the infotainment screen to 8.8 inches (with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on every trim) and improved the quality of the materials used throughout the interior.
There’s more than enough room in the front seats for tall adults to get comfortable, and those under six feet tall will be happy in the rear seats. There’s room for a third passenger on the middle seat, although their feet will have to straddle the transmission tunnel.
With family use in mind, it’s good to see plenty of storage options on offer in the Stelvio. Cup holders sit in front of the gear lever, you can fit your bottle of acqua in the door bins, there’s a large glovebox and there’s storage under the front armrest. Rear-seat passengers get nets in the back of the front seats and more storage in the armrest.
With the electrically assisted tailgate open, the Stelvio’s boot is a good shape and size with the rear seats in use – you’ll be able to fit a few suitcases in there. The seatbacks are split 40/20/40; with these folded, you have a huge space for shifting bulky loads.
Running costs and reliability
The 2.2-litre diesel Stelvio offers the best economy, with an official average of up to 46.3mpg with rear-wheel drive, and 44.1mpg with 4-wheel-drive. The least powerful petrol engine returns up to 30.4mpg on average, while the Quadrifoglio has clever tech that can put it into eco mode when you’re cruising – its official fuel economy is 28.8mpg.
What we love
We love the way the Stelvio drives – it’s up there with other sporty SUVs such as the BMW X3 and the Porsche Macan – thanks to its super-sharp steering and deft handling, which make it a joy to thread along country roads. We also love the interior. The dashboard looks really special and there’s room for the family and their luggage, while a raft of safety kit helped it gain 5 stars from crash safety experts Euro NCAP.
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Alfa Romeo has knocked it out of the park with its first SUV. The Stelvio is a proper driver’s car, with incredible steering and body control, yet has all the room and practicality a family needs for a trip to the seaside or further afield. It’s safe, surefooted and has the good looks to help set it apart from its numerous rivals. Bravo, Alfa.
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