The Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - MOTOR - By Jack Evans, Press As­so­ci­a­tion

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the Ital­ian man­u­fac­turer's first SUV. Jack Evans gets be­hind the wheel to see how it fares on UK roads.

What is it?

The Stelvio is Alfa's very first SUV, and it en­ters into an in­cred­i­bly busy seg­ment. But hav­ing al­ready knocked it out of the park with the ex­cel­lent Gi­u­lia sa­loon, can Alfa re­peat the recipe with the larger Stelvio?

What's new?

Alfa Romeo, be­ing a man­u­fac­turer of dy­nam­i­cally ca­pa­ble ve­hi­cles, has worked hard to en­sure the Stelvio is geared to­wards 'sporty' driv­ing more than other SUVs on the mar­ket today. As such, you'll find it has per­fect 50/50 weight distri­bu­tion, and sus­pen­sion set up to pro­vide a more dy­namic drive, rather than an overtly com­fort­able one.

They've also car­ried over many of the fea­tures which were pop­u­lar on the Gi­u­lia sa­loon; the gearshift pad­dles, for in­stance, are mas­sive and crafted from alu­minium, while the steer­ing rack is quicker than you'd ex­pect ­ an­other trait of the Gi­u­lia.

What's un­der the bon­net?

Though the Gi­u­lia is avail­able with a range of en­gines, our test car came fit­ted with the most pow­er­ful unit, a 2.2­litre, 207bhp tur­bocharged pow­er­plant. The per­for­mance is brisk, with the sprint to 60mph set­tled in 6.4 sec­onds, while the Stelvio's top speed is set at a re­spectable 134mph. De­spite this, the Stelvio still has a claimed econ­omy of 58.9mpg, while emis­sions are rea­son­able at 127g/km CO2.

Save for the very low­est­out­put cars, all Stelvios ben­e­fit from four­wheel­drive, aid­ing trac­tion lev­els in poor con­di­tions. Power is driven to them via an eight­speed au­to­matic gear­box, and there's a de­cent amount of torque gen­er­ated by the en­gine to keep the whole af­fair pushed along ­ 470Nm in fact, which is a good slug of push­ing power for a car of this size.

What's it like to drive?

As men­tioned, the Stelvio's been de­signed to sit on the more dy­namic end of the SUV spec­trum, and as such rides and drives in a slightly dif­fer­ent way to a con­ven­tional four­wheel­drive. The ride suf­fers a lit­tle at low speeds, with its over­all firm­ness trans­fer­ring im­per­fec­tions on the road sur­face into the cabin. It means that when pot­ter­ing around town, the Stelvio feels a lit­tle un­set­tled. How­ever, as you in­crease in speed, the car's sus­pen­sion be­gins to make sense, where it man­ages body roll well and al­lows you to cor­ner con­fi­dently.

The steer­ing is, as men­tioned, quite quick too, and this gives the whole car an ea­ger­ness when turn­ing in ­ again, an­other plus point when trav­el­ling at faster speeds. One as­pect which threw up a few is­sues was the fuel gauge ­ on our car, the es­ti­mated fuel read­out would change wildly, vary­ing by hun­dreds of miles at any given time. At one point it showed 40 miles of range re­main­ing, but this dropped to zero af­ter one cor­ner.

How does it look?

The Stelvio has been in­fused with all of the de­sign touches you'd ex­pect from an Alfa Romeo. There's the large tri­an­gle grille at the front, an­gled head­lights and, of course, the all­im­por­tant off­set num­ber plate. It's a good­look­ing de­sign, and markedly dif­fer­ent to the re­main­ing of­fer­ings in the SUV seg­ment.

Our test car also fea­tured yel­low brake calipers and 19­inch 10­spoke al­loy wheels, which aided the over­all sporty look. Cer­tainly, against the rounded sil­hou­ettes of cars such as the Porsche Ma­can and BMW X3, the Stelvio's edgy styling makes it stand out. The rear end of the car is par­tic­u­larly strong, with large (re­ally quite large, in fact) ex­haust pipes giv­ing the car a par­tic­u­larly sporty ap­pear­ance.

What's it like inside?

The in­te­rior of the Stelvio cov­ers the ba­sics well; the steer­ing po­si­tion is good, the steer­ing wheel has plenty of ad­just­ment and the elec­tric front seats can be set to ex­actly the right po­si­tion with lit­tle ef­fort. There are harsher plas­tics here, for sure ­ the ma­te­rial used for the gearshift sur­round is quite hard, and the gear­stick has an an­noy­ingly sharp edge to it, but for the most part it's a com­fort­able and well­made place to be.

The rear seats of­fer plenty of space, and though the sloped roofline does cut into head­room lev­els some­what, there should more than enough for av­er­a­ge­sized pas­sen­gers. The Stelvio does well in terms of boot space as well, with its 525 litres of seats­up ca­pac­ity trump­ing that of the Porsche Ma­can.

What's the spec like?

Prices for the 2.2­litre diesel­pow­ered Gi­u­lia start at £38,490, and there's a lot of stan­dard equip­ment in­cluded as part of this price. You get 18­inch al­loy wheels, front and rear park­ing sen­sors and a lane de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tem in­cluded, as well as a power tail­gate and an eight­s­peaker sound sys­tem.

Our test car fea­tured the larger, eight­inch in­fo­tain­ment screen (a smaller seven­inch unit is in­cluded in lower­spec mod­els), and this houses fea­tures such as satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and me­dia func­tions. It's easy to nav­i­gate thanks to a sim­ple ro­tary con­troller, but it lacks the def­i­ni­tion of ri­val of­fer­ings.

Ver­dict

The Stelvio does things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently com­pared to usual SUVs. It's still a com­fort­able cruiser, but comes alive when the roads get twisty, and ex­hibits a driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence like few other cars in its seg­ment. It looks spe­cial too, and does well to ap­pear dif­fer­ent against the vast amount of sim­i­larly­sized cars cur­rently on the roads.

Though it may not be quite as re­fined as ri­vals ­ the Audi Q5 is far bet­ter be­haved on rougher sur­faces ­ Stelvio of­fers up just a touch more in­volve­ment for the driver, it's well worth con­sid­er­ing.

Facts at a glance

Model as tested: Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 Q4 Su­per Price: €49,500. En­gine: 2.2­litre tur­bocharged diesel en­gine. Power (bhp): 207. Max speed (mph): 134. MPG: 58.9. Emis­sions (g/km): 127

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