Stelvio’s a stormer
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.