Stelvio’s a stormer

Rochdale Observer - - MOTORS -

RIVING on mo­tor­ways might be the safest and quick­est way to com­plete a jour­ney, but it doesn’t teach us any­thing im­por­tant about a car.

That takes things like hills and dales, twists and bends, ad­verse cam­ber, speed humps, city park­ing and the good, the bad and the com­pletely di­a­bol­i­cal of road sur­faces. Drive all of these slow and fast and then turn around and drive back again - and you soon get a mea­sure of whether a car can cope well with the ups and downs of daily life.

The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV – the first one in the com­pany’s 100 year his­tory – is a su­perb all-rounder eas­ily able to shrug off any­thing a fam­ily could throw at it.

Yet it also holds true in no small way to the long held Alfa tra­di­tion of build­ing beau­ti­ful cars that are a joy to drive.

Both diesel and petrol all wheel drive (AWD) mod­els that I drove are hugely re­fined, amaz­ingly ag­ile and de­cid­edly quick, with light weight help­ing them to be­lie their size in the han­dling depart­ment.

The AWD 2.2 diesel has 210bhp, while the 2.0-litre petrol comes with a se­ri­ous 280. There are also rear wheel drive mod­els avail­able, and both petrol and diesel of­fer­ings have 180bhp.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is ex­cel­lent in the AWD diesel and even quicker in the petrol. But the diesel is likely to be the big­gest seller.

In it the 0 to 62 miles an hour sprint from stand­still take just 6.6 sec­onds, and a top speed of 133 miles an hour should be enough for just about any­one.

Al­lied to that is fuel econ­omy av­er­ag­ing an ex­cel­lent 57mpg in the gov­ern­ment fig­ures and low emis­sions for an SUV of just 127grammes per kilo­me­tre.

The eight speed gear­box works per­fectly well for most peo­ple in nor­mal fully au­to­matic mode, but when press­ing on, the man­ual set­ting works bril­liantly.

This is be­cause it has gearchange pad­dles like those in a Fer­rari, fixed to the steer­ing col­umn be­hind the wheel, rather than turn­ing with the wheel as they do in Audis and most oth­ers.

With such a fixed setup, the driver al­ways knows ex­actly where they are and changes are quick and easy.

The han­dling of the Stelvio is tremen­dous and road­hold­ing mar­vel­lous with amaz­ing ‘chuck­ablity,’ and yet the ride is also very good.

The Stelvio is an ex­cel­lent all round lux­ury SUV, and with beaty and driv­ing plea­sure high on its agenda, is well wor­thy of the Alfa Romeo pedi­gree.

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