Ignition

2018 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO

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The triple-spoke steering wheel, over-sized logo, off-centre engine start button and over-sized paddle shifters give the Alfa an all-business demeanour. This statement is further emphasized by the allblack treatment of the passenger cabin in the trim level, which is rough equivalent of the Ti Sport we receive here.

The engineerin­g of the Stelvio is even more different compared to others in this segment. The SUV has been developed in parallel with the Giulia; the two vehicles share an engine range, platform and suspension system.

Although the Stelvio, understand­ably, rides higher than the Giulia, all the heavy components on the SUV have been mounted as low, which helps create a surprising­ly low centre of gravity. The wheelbase is long for a mid-size vehicle, the wheels pushed right to the corners. The weight distributi­on is close to 50/50. The steering system is light, but direct—point the Stelvio towards a given corner and it makes a beeline.

Of course, the steering is aided and abetted by what is a sophistica­ted Q4 AllWheel Drive system, which is standard on all versions of the Stelvio. The system shuttles up to 60 per cent of engine torque to the front wheels—and can make this happen in just 150 millisecon­ds— but maintains a rear-biased profile under normal driving conditions or when pushing things a bit.

Speaking of pushing things, there's the Stelvio Pass, the Alpine road for which the Alfa Romeo is named. If your goal is to assess the handling of a given vehicle, this famous thoroughfa­re is not the

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