Alfa Romeo Stelvio: Driving Italian Style

By Geoff Maxted on September 24, 2018

It looks like Alfa Romeo have finally eliminated the gremlins that cursed their earlier cars. This writer spent a very happy week in the featured SUV and all was well, returning over 38 miles for my expensive gallon, although the company reckon you could get 58mpg. That presumes that you drive like a parsimonious priest. This frugality was courtesy of my decision to opt not for the desirable and fast Quadrifolglio version but rather a more family orientated version with a 2.0L diesel engine.

There are alternative engines available but, if you can overlook the current unwarranted hatred of diesel, this 210bhp motor is the one to choose, even if your heart prefers the idea of the 503bhp 2.9L V6.

Nevertheless, it is still at heart an Alfa Romeo, so with acceleration to 62mph in just 6.6 seconds, this delightfully appealing and attractive Italian motor is no slouch. Further, and despite being an SUV, the Stelvio still makes for a great drive.

Driving The Alfa Romeo Stelvio

A pleasant surprise was the performance of this four-cylinder engine. It’s really quiet for a diesel; in fact it doesn’t feel like a diesel at all unless to push it to the limits, which of course, serves no purpose. The quality of the drive is enhanced by the ‘as standard’ ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s very well matched to the motor delivering crisp changes depending on driver inputs. There are a pair of big, racy paddles for manual operation but, although they work well, don’t bring much more to the diesel-engined party. I soon tired of using them and let the superb ZF ‘box get on with it.

The tested ‘Super’ version was a Q4 all-wheel drive model (2WD is standard) with bias to the rear wheels until extra grip is required, yet did not feel at all cumbersome. It feels light and poised on the road with minimal body roll and the steering, although inevitably lacking in old-school feel, remains crisp and direct. Despite the physical size the Stelvio felt more like a saloon. Terrific.

Inside The Alfa Romeo Stelvio

I approve of the minimalist approach to the dashboard. It is, as you can see, smart and modern with some of the controls on the now obligatory flat-bottomed steering wheel. The 8.8” infotainment/navigation screen differs from the norm in that it offers split screen options and, so used am I to these units all being pretty uniform, took a while to get to grips with it. It all works well though and, in any event, when it comes to all this on-board technology, as long as it does the job, that’s all that matters.

The cabin is big and roomy and comfortable although, in my opinion, a little bit of legroom in the back has been sacrificed for the capacious 525L boot. That’s really useful for the family motorist. The interior was attractively covered in black leather and the standard of finish was generally very good. The large areas of black make the inside a little gloomy so a glass roof would be nice to lighten things up, but I still prefer that to the alternatives of ‘Mocha’ or dreaded ‘Beige’.

Would I Buy The Alfa Romeo Stelvio?

Well, although older models from the past still cause owners to wail and gnash their teeth, the latest choices seem to be much improved.

If there’s an issue it is one of competition and the Stelvio is up against some quality opposition in the prestige sector. The tested car with added options cost £44k. There are a lot of highly regarded SUV’s in the mainstream that can undercut that. If, however, you want a classy alternative to the prim and proper German mob then look no further, especially if you like to add that frisson of excitement every time you press the start button.

Geoff Maxted

DriveWrite.co.uk