Alfa Romeo Stelvio
27 February 2019
Author: Rachel Boagey
Is the driving experience of Alfa's SUV enough to beat the desirability of premium rivals?
|Hill descent control, cruise control, 18in alloy wheels, front parking sensors.|
|Petrol:|| 200hp 2.0, 280hp 2.0 |
|Diesel:|| 190hp 2.2, 210hp 2.2 |
|Super, Nero Edizione, Milano, Quadrifoglio |
|Eight-speed automatic |
All we seem to hear about these days is manufacturers announcing new SUVs, and it is easy to see why: they sell like hot cakes. Although there are many reasons for this - practicality, ride height - they can be less engaging to drive.
Alfa Romeo believes it has identified a gap it hopes to fill with its first SUV: namely, it has to be more fun to drive than all the rest at its price point. Enter the Stelvio, the SUV that aims to take on premium rivals.
Driving around town, it feels much like any premium SUV. And for Alfa Romeo, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But is it better to drive on the open road? The driving experience is a mixed bag.
On the one hand, the steering is light, and the automatic gearbox is responsive. The Stelvio also offer good forward vision. However, there are massive blind spots to the side and back because of an obstructive rear pillar and small rear window.
The suspension is on the firm side too. The car constantly fidgets, meaning a
not-so-comfortable ride for passengers with the 19in alloy wheels we tested the car with. We would recommend downsizing these to improve ride comfort.
There are two petrol engines and two diesels to choose from - we tested the entry-level 2.2-litre 190hp diesel version. It is punchy but noisy when revved. The economy is not bad for such a powerful engine, however, with figures claiming 53.3mpg and 139g/km of CO2, but the 4% diesel surcharge will sting you on your BIK tax rating on an already quite pocket-hole-burning machine.
So far so middling - but we are yet to mention the one area in which the Stelvio really excels: its handling. The Alfa is genuinely good fun on twisty roads thanks to sharp, responsive steering and a front end that provides loads of grip. It is not just responsive steering that makes the Stelvio easy to like either, because, being an SUV, it is also extremely practical. Climbing in and out is easy, and once inside the interior is comfortable and spacious, with compartments dotted around the cabin ensuring enough room for essential family car storage.
While there is decent head and leg room in the back for passengers, it doesn't feel as as spacious as an Audi Q5 or BMW X3 and the footwells are a bit cramped. Although it should be pleasant enough for most journeys, it will make long drives uncomfortable with three backseat passengers.
Similarly, the boot is not the biggest compared with its competition, being around 20% smaller than the Jaguar F-Pace - although it remains usable and comes without a load lip, making packing and stacking easy.
Inside, you get a sports-inspired design with huge dials and a stylish steering wheel. On the lowest equipment grade, hill descent and cruise control are standard, though sat-nav is not. Spend around £3,000 more and you will bag yourself nicer seats and an 8in infotainment display with navigation - although the graphics aren't quite as impressive as its
Like many cars, the Stelvio Veloce has its pros and cons, although if you have been avoiding an SUV until now due to the driving experience, maybe this is the model to change your mind.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV 2.2TD 190hp Super Auto8
On sale Now
Residual value 39.3%
Service, maintenance and repair £3,299
Cost per mile 79.4p
Fuel consumption 53.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 139g/km (32%)
BIK 20/40% a month £194/£388
Boot space 525 litres
Engine size/power 1,995cc/210hp
- Responsive and direct steering, roomy interior, high road position.
- Not as good as German rivals all-round.