Alfa’s long-awaited SUV looks set to stir up the lifestyle segment
AFTER a couple of less-than-sterling decades, Alfa Romeo – the darling brand of petrolheads the world over – appears to be on the up and up. While the renaissance began with the visceral 4C sportscar, and more recently the Giulia sedan has been impressive, there’s nevertheless been a glaring hole in Alfa’s otherwise rich tapestry … the lack of an SUV model.
Now Alfa has finally heeded the motoring public’s relentless clamouring for stylish lifestyle SUVS with the launch of the Stelvio. As the firm’s first attempt at an SUV, there is plenty riding on the shoulders of the Stelvio, and we had the chance to sample the model on Italian soil to see if the long wait has been worth it.
The Stelvio is named after the highest mountain pass in Italy which links with Switzerland and, as is often the case with Alfa models, the vehicle cuts a handsome figure from almost every angle. Most SUVS come across as blocky and angular in appearance, but the Stelvio is curvaceous in all the right places. To my eyes, it looks like a junior version of the shapely Maserati Levante and is arguably one of the best-looking modern SUVS. Even when driven in its notoriously style-conscious home market, the Stelvio managed to garner appreciative nods and glances from onlookers, not least of all in the tiny town of Maranello, the home of certain red sportscars with a Prancing Horse badge on their snouts.
As the custodian of a Giulia long-termer, I found the Stelvio’s interior a familiar environment. Much of the sedan’s cabin treatments have been carried over to the SUV, including the steering wheel with starter button, as well as the switchgear for the climate control, electric windows and infotainment system.
The new model is based on the same platform as its Giulia sibling, internally dubbed Giorgio, and AWD is the drivetrain of choice. Power is provided by the same 2,0-litre turbopetrol as the Giulia that I pilot on a daily