New car review

Alfa Romeo Stelvio review

Does Alfa Romeo’s first SUV match rivals in the market while retaining that evocative Italian DNA?

Summary

Minor irritations apart, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an effective new entrant to the SUV market. It is generally well built, and offers a combination of attractive looks and sporting prowess that many rivals do not.
Design
8.0
Comfort
8.0
Driving experience
8.0
Value for money
8.0
Safety
9.0

Summary

Minor irritations apart, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an effective new entrant to the SUV market. It is generally well built, and offers a combination of attractive looks and sporting prowess that many rivals do not.

60-second summary

What is it?
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the Italian brand’s first entry into the mushrooming SUV market.

Key features
Sporty looks, potent performance, good value compared to rivals

Our view
Alfa Romeo has done a pretty impressive job with its first SUV, helped by generally copying what it did right with the Giulia saloon.

The Stelvio looks sporty, is potent and offers good value against rivals. Only mirror irritations slightly dull a glossy performance.

Similar cars
BMW X3, Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLC


Full review

Introduction

Jaguar did it, Maserati did it, even Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce are now doing it. Doing what? Marketing an SUV.

So we shouldn’t really be surprised that Alfa Romeo, a badge that immediately conjures up images of Italian sporting passion (despite being applied to some pretty ordinary cars in recent years) should follow the path towards big body shells and jacked-up ride heights.

Alfa is doing an SUV because everybody it seems wants an SUV these days. In development since 2014 and first sold in the Autumn of 2017, the Stelvio is expected to become the brand’s biggest seller – and it needs to be a success for a brand that hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in recent times.

The Stelvio starts off with a big plus. It was evolved alongside the Giulia saloon – the pair share a lot of their mechanicals, including a platform that will also underpin future models from both Alfa and Maserati. And the Giulia, launched a year ahead of the Stelvio, has earned a great deal of praise particularly for its driving dynamics. Having liked Alfa’s new saloon, we have high hopes for the big sister Stelvio.

Visually the Stelvio has presence. It certainly doesn’t offer the bulk of a typical SUV, looking instead like a family car that has been muscled up by a weekend workout at a boot camp.

The resemblance to the Giulia is obvious, especially in the front which appears almost to be a straight transplant from the saloon. Combine this with a distinctly dipping, curvy rear end and the result is a car that conforms to Alfa’s sporting tradition.

Buying and owning an Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Mainstream Stelvio choices range across four engines and for now, four trim levels. These engine choices are 2.2-litre turbo diesels of either 190 or 210hp, and a 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit with 200 or 280hp. All are matched to a standard-fit eight-speed auto transmission with manual shift options, top-level models getting steering wheel paddles.

We say mainstream, because Alfa has just added a performance Quadrifoglio model to the line-up. Like the similar model in the Giulia range, the Quadrifoglio uses a 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo with 510hp and 600Nm or torque on tap – it will hit 62mph from rest in 3.8 seconds which for an SUV is faintly ridiculous.


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Our test car is the general range-topper, the 280hp turbo petrol variant. It is certainly fast enough for most people’s needs with a 5.7-second 0-62mph time. Even the 180hp diesel of the entry-level model manages a perfectly respectable 7.6 seconds to 62mph, conforming again to that Alfa Romeo sporting image.

The trim level names add to that imagery – one has a choice of ‘Super’, ‘Nero Edizione’, ‘Speciale’ or our top-spec ‘Milano Edizione’. This was supposed to be a limited-offer launch model, though a year after launch it’s still on sale so we are not sure what Alfa considers limited to be…

Stelvio prices start at £36,990, which buys the only rear-wheel-drive variant with the 190hp diesel. With more and more buyers turning to petrol, it’s worth paying just £600 more for the 200hp petrol version in order to get the all-wheel-drive.

Milano Edizione is only available with the 210hp diesel and 280hp petrol engines and our petrol variant would cost £45,390 at a dealer. And if you want a Quadriflogio? You will need around £70,000…

Equipment levels are good, particularly since an Autumn 2018 update that saw all versions fitted with Alfa Romeo’s nine-inch Alfa Connect infotainment system. This includes navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration as standard – the lack of the latter a criticism of early cars.

Other notables in the entry-level equipment package include leather upholstery, an electric tailgate, dual-zone climate control and parking sensors.

As for our Milano variant, extras include bigger wheels, lots of extra aluminium trim liberally applied, a ten-speaker ‘Sound Theatre’ audio system, keyless entry, privacy glass, electrically adjustable and heated front seats and a rear-view camera. And perhaps most usefully, steering-wheel gearshift paddles are included.

The car scores on its safety package that includes autonomous emergency braking as standard – helping to clock up a five-star Euro NCAP rating with an impressive 97% score for adult occupant protection.

Even entry-level models include Hill Descent Control – an unusual feature considering they cannot be had with any of the more traditional off-road electronic driving aids one gets in other SUVs – not that we expect many owners to take their Stelvio off-road.

That Autumn update also improved the warranty – it’s now valid for five years/75,000 miles and includes a three-year servicing schedule, covering the cost of parts, lubricants and labour.

Next page: Step inside and take a drive

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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