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Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2JTDM-2 210hp Q4 AWD Speciale

Date: 29 September 2017   |   Author: Guy Bird

Standard equipment: 17in alloys, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision and lane-departure warning, stop/start, cruise control, 8.8in wide central colour screen, auto wipers and lights, dual climate control, rear parking sensors

When it seems as though the whole world wants sporty SUVs of various sizes, and sales of these vehicles continue to boom, carmakers avoid those segments at their financial peril. Even Ferrari's thinking about one.

Ferrari's spiritual little brother, Alfa, long ago flagged its intention to make one of these SUVs and, after a few false dawns it's now here. Given the Stelvio is named after a particularly hairpin-infested Alpine mountain pass, Alfa engineers spent a lot of time making sure the high-sided SUV likes the twisty stuff. And, as it's an Alfa Romeo, it needs to look as good as it goes.

On the road, it cuts more of a dash than when I first saw it at its late 2016 motorshow unveiling, but it still appears a bit bulky at the rear, and high-sided from the front, lacking the stance and elegance of the Jaguar E-Pace and F-Pace, and the Mercedes GLC. Looks aside, it has a few USPs, notably being the lightest model in its segment at 1,604-1,660kg where most rivals are 1,800kg and more. Alfa claims it has the tightest turning circle at 11.75m, and there's a new integrated braking system that reduces shudder and avoids brake fade.

Alfa's UK brand manager Andrew Tracey believes the Stelvio will become a bestseller within a year, telling BusinessCar, "That's the plan. There could be fewer than 1,000 between it and the Giulia, but the Stelvio could really go." Tracey wants 4,000 sales a year, 45% to fleet, and expects the higher-powered 210hp 2.2 turbo diesel to account for half these sales.

Other diesels on offer are the 180hp 2.2 in RWD (60.1mpg and 124g/km) and AWD guises (58.9mpg and 127g/km) and two petrols: a 180hp 2.0 AWD and an ultra-rapid 280hp 2.0 petrol AWD (both 40.4mpg and 161g/km). Only an eight-speed automatic gearbox will be offered with the UK range.

The predicted big-selling 210hp diesel feels powerfully smooth and quick (0-62mph takes only 6.6 seconds) but the ride, on optional 20in wheels, is choppy in places. The 280hp 2.0 petrol is even more fun, offering quicker acceleration still (0-62mph in 5.7seconds), pleasingly swift gear-shift paddles, agile steering and a nice engine noise, all of which combine to recall memorable zippy and sporty Alfas of old.

If you don't do big annual mileage, the fast petrol version is well worth a look. The cabin feel is mostly upmarket, but the seats are a bit uncomfortable over longer drives, and while passenger space front and back is fine, some details - such as the flimsy air vents - could be improved. Luggage capacity is merely adequate at 525-1,600 litres; many rivals offer more.

The UK spec is good, with autonomous emergency braking, 17in wheels and an 8.8in infotainment screen as standard across the range, although the in-house system still feels too small for the dash and its software not intuitive enough. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto options will be available by the end of October. Prices start at £33,990 for the 2.2 turbo diesel 180hp RWD Stelvio, rising to £45,390 for the 2.0 turbo petrol 280hp Q4 AWD Milano Edizione, which includes 20in wheels and a 10-speaker audio upgrade.

That's a well-priced range for a mostly handsome car and, in a segment so long dominated by the German premium trio, it's refreshing for fleets to have genuinely good opposition from the likes of Alfa, Volvo and Jaguar. Definitely worth a test drive.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2JTDM-2 210hp Q4 AWD Speciale

P11D £42,049
On sale September 2017
Residual value 36.2%
Depreciation £26,824
Fuel £5,473
Service, maintenance and repair £3,148
Cost per mile 86.5p
Fuel consumption 58.9mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 127g/km (27%)
BIK 20/40% a month £189/£378
Boot space 525 litres
Engine size/power 2,143cc/210hp

Verdict


8/10
  • A mostly handsome, nice-handling SUV.
  • Doesn't stand out as well as others
  • Infotainment system still weak.

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