Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 Petrol 280hp Q4 AWD Speciale
Ok I’m not saying I have a short memory, well not really but what I am saying is I was very impressed with Alfa Romeos Stelvio I forgot it was an SUV. I could kick start this article about how car makers have sold their souls by introducing SUV’s, given in to public demand blah blah or the other side of the argument that it is simply a case of supply and demand (and survival!) but that kind of thing might be best left to a blog piece, what we, or rather I am going to talk about here is what I think of Alfa Romeos very first SUV, in this case the 2.0 petrol AWD.
Let’s get some of the facts and figures out of the way, with 280 hp on tap ensuring the Stelvio hits 0-62 in just 5.7 seconds it can shift, and will carry on shifting all the way to 143mph, hauling you and your passengers plus all the stuff you want to throw in the boot – and you will because its big – to your chosen destination pretty rapidly and just as importantly in comfort. Quite what the mpg figures will be if you decide to enjoy the full barrage of talent from that 2.0 petrol engine remains to be seen, but the book tells us the combined mpg is 40.4 and given that we are law abiding drivers I think it’s fair to say that it is probably on the ball (give or take).
The model we tested was the Q4 AWD Speciale, in Alfa Red (naturally) with a few options loaded on; Black sports leather interior (£1100), 19′ Dual 5-spoke Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels (£490), Alfa Dynamic Suspension (£400), Convenience Pack (£525) and Rear View Camera (£330). So yes like most manufacturers options are available and won’t come cheap but as this Stelvio starts at £43,705.00 adding a few grands worth of options probably isn’t a problem. What this Stelvio does have as standard is pretty much everything else you would expect from a luxury SUV, Infotainment package, Electric seats, Power Tailgate, Dusk/Rain sensors, Shift Paddles (when you want to play at F1), Parking sensors, Bi-Xenon headlights and so on. A good piece of kit in more ways than one you might say.
One thing any Alfa Romeo owner, or in fact Alfa enthusiast will tell you is an Alfa has to look good. Even in the 80’s when everything was drawn with rulers, Alfa Romeo’s looked better than their rivals, Alfa 33 or 75 anyone? So this must continue, as an Alfa Romeo owner I so often stop before walking through my front door and take a second look at my Alfa, despite having it for a few years, it still gets that second look because it looks good, and it was the same with the ones before that. As Enzo Ferrari himself said ‘I tip my hat when an Alfa Romeo goes by’ they just are and have to be good looking cars. So what of the Stelvio? Making an SUV look good is not an easy task, just look at the Land Rover Discovery or the smaller Discovery Sport, not to mention the Audi Q whatsits’. Given the fact that Alfa took their design cues from the Giulia they had a fairly good starting point, and so the Stelvio is of course good looking, like a 50’s screen icon it has curves in all the right places, from it’s curved but purposeful front to those hunched rear arches, all indicating this is not just an SUV but more importantly an Alfa Romeo of substance and beauty. Sat alongside some of it’s rivals, it does in fact make them look somewhat clumsy and fussy, sorry Volvo. It is a design that looks good now and will do still in a few years time when the Stelvio is appearing on the used car market.
On the inside:
So having confirmed it looks the part and has plenty of kit, is it a good place to be? Well that is a resounding yes, having driven various SUV’s over the years from Range Rovers to BMW X5’s they tend to be either very comfortable (RR) or hard and uncomfortable (German), in the Range Rovers case things tend to drop off or just stop working altogether after a while. Having owned various Alfa Romeos over the last decade or so and seen first hand build quality improve model on model I’m pretty confident the Stelvio should prove a reliable piece of kit (8th in a recent WhatCar reliability survey seems to back that sentiment up – https://enzari.com/2018/09/italian-car-makers-come-in-ahead-of-rivals-in-whatcar-reliability-survey/ ).
So sitting in the leather seats and familiarising myself with the controls doesn’t take too long, any Giulia owners will certainly feel right at home. Everything is clearly laid out, the electric drivers seat doesn’t take much to find that ideal driving position. Looking out across the bonnet I expect it to look maybe a little bigger than what I am actually seeing, but it doesn’t, the sculptured lines ensure you can see the edge of the car at the front, ensuring you can point it pretty much where you like when driving not wondering where the side of the Stelvio might be. Another thing of note was the overall feeling it isn’t that big, bigger than a Giulia yes, but more of a Giulia estate/sportswagon size as opposed to an SUV (the Stelvio was the reason Alfa decided against a Giulia Sportswagon). The Stelvio gets an eight-speed automatic gearbox but it also has the flappy paddle F1 gear shift thingy too, but for this test we used it in Auto as it will be driven most of the time this way by Alfa Romeo customers. Engaging ‘D’ we set off, power is instant, nice and smooth, the 2.0 petrol is a fairly quiet affair, until you plant the accelerator a little and then it springs to life, don’t get me wrong, this is no Quadrifoglio model but in a real world situation for accelerating onto the motorway or over taking it can really move. This Stelvio is quicker from 0-62 than a Ferrari 308 & 328, which gives you some idea of how far engine tech has come over the last couple of decades, Magnum couldn’t catch you in a Stelvio.
So talking of acceleration as the scenery goes by in a blare, the Stelvio can handle, it doesn’t wallow about like an elephant on roller skates it feels planted to the road and despite that fact I didn’t really know the roads around this part of Yorkshire, the Stelvio glides round the corners as if on rails (I always wanted to use that analogy!), remember how I commented on the design looking out across the bonnet, well it really does allow you to point the Stelvio where you want it to go, it isn’t a race car, certainly around these roads it might not keep up with an Abarth 695 Rivale (yes we tested that too!) but it won’t be very far behind and considering this is an SUV it is pretty impressive. And you won’t be getting flung about, more held in place comfortably, with good visibility thanks to the raised ride height, it makes the driving experience a bit easier. And then there is that size thing again, it doesn’t feel like you’re driving a big wardrobe of an SUV round the narrow tight lanes, it just goes, taking every corner, every bit of road in its stride with ease. It is an SUV that makes you forget it’s an SUV, really it does. You see that’s not a memory thing, it just doesn’t feel like an SUV, a Sportswagon Giulia maybe – raised up I know – but honestly when you drive it, it is amazing how quickly you genuinely forget you’re driving an SUV the Stelvio is that good.
So in essence is the Stelvio a true Alfa? Yes, sorry that might upset some enthusiasts out there but the fact is, it is. It looks good, drives good and feels like an Alfa, within it’s make up it has that Alfa Romeo DNA, you can feel it when you drive, it has a presence that you won’t get from other SUV’s, if anything else comes close it might be the Jaguar F-pace, but even the Jag’ looks a little stale next to the looks of the Stelvio.
The Stelvio impresses as an Alfa should, it looks and feels special, there is no other way to put it, and yes it really does…go and drive one…it really does make you forget it’s an SUV…