Alfa Romeo entered the boom SUV segment relatively late. The Stelvio should meet the highest standards right from the start. Can the well-designed, powerfully motorized but not exactly cheap Italian compete with the best in its segment? The answer is clear.
The new Italian Stelvio
Granted, the heading for this post is neither new nor particularly original. But it fits in two ways: The Stelvio, which has been available since 2017, is derived by name from the “Passo dello Stelvio”, the highest Italian mountain pass at 2.757 meters, which we in Germany better know as the “Stilfser Joch”. Three years ago that could be understood as an Alfa announcement, because the Italians had big plans with their mid-range SUV from the start. And the model actually runs very well. Since the start of three and a half years, not only has time passed, there have also been various minor changes to the engines and equipment. So it was time to get involved in the Italian way of SUV driving again.
We were provided with the version with the most powerful diesel, a 2,2-liter with 154 kW / 210 PS, always combined with all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission. This has to be said: the compression-ignition engine is definitely the best choice among three petrol and two diesels on offer. However, and this too, fun is also an expensive pleasure. Because the engine is only available with the Lusso (more sporty) and Veloce (more comfortable) equipment variants, which are relatively high in the price list. Alfa calls for 57.513 euros for both models, the test car even came to 66.480 euros with mostly useful additional equipment. And there is no premium in sight for diesel vehicles far and wide.
So be it that convinces Stelvio. Technically, it is closely related to the large Giulia sedan. Alfa and Fiat have put a lot of effort into both, and technically they both represent the best that the Italians have to offer at the moment.
Too many frills again in the design?
Inside, a tidy cockpit awaits us in the Stelvio with logically arranged control surfaces, buttons and switches. This is definitely worth mentioning because for a long time this was by no means a matter of course for models from south of the Alps. So here things are exemplary, almost “German”. The disadvantage: The cockpit, which is predominantly black but is accentuated by fine chrome borders, does not exactly cause a racing heart.
The exterior design is more exciting. Tastefully distributed body folds, a sporty sloping roof line and last but not least the small Scudetto (label) with the Alfa emblem on the front give the SUV a specific character. In addition, the Stelvio with its tight body overhangs stands nicely on the road. The disadvantage: entry into the rear is not very easy. And anyway, the back of the head is rather tight. In addition, the back seat was theoretically designed for three, but actually only for two people. The cardan tunnel necessary for all-wheel drive destroys the third seat.
The Stelvio engine: a real Alfa
However, we have already indicated that the engine is convincing. The 2,2-liter diesel - in fact it is 2.143 ccm, so it's more of a 2,1-liter - gets down to business right from the start. It develops its maximum torque of 470 Newton meters at 1.750 rpm, but there is actually always enough power available even at lower or higher speeds, at least up to 3.000 rpm. The diesel engine works audibly, but is surprisingly economical. After all, it has to move an empty weight of 1,8 tons. Our practical consumption of just over 6 liters is therefore quite excellent, especially since we did not drive the Alfa cautiously in every situation, but also drove longer distances a little faster on the motorway. A maximum of 215 km / h is possible, the Stelvio reaches 100 km / h at the stand after 6,6 seconds. Good values, but they also show that Alfa has fortunately not trimmed this SUV to sportiness by force. The DNA driving dynamics control with its settings for “Dynamics”, “Normal” and “Advanced Effiency” is always on board. The latter setting is supposed to save fuel, but takes away too much driving pleasure. With “Normal” you always drive well, with the possible exception of sections of the motorway that you drive very quickly.
The eight-speed automatic from ZF turned out to be very attentive, not surprisingly. The steering is very precise, but designed almost a little too direct, which is especially noticeable on the motorway. Overall, the Stelvio is not only easy to drive, thanks to its very good chassis it hardly shows any weaknesses in handling. A major disadvantage of the all-wheel drive is only revealed when it gets very tight or even has to turn: the turning circle is not exactly small at 11,75 meters, it feels even larger, which is probably due to the contrast between the handiness of the Alfa in everyday life and its clumsiness in certain situations, such as a turning maneuver.
An exclusive car with many advantages
We had left the Stelvio by the wayside for a few years and were amazed at its capabilities with the time lag. It offers enough space for a family and opens up a trunk of 525 liters, which is typical for its class. The engine delights with power and even more with its economy. And the entire vehicle makes a high-quality impression, without the casualness of workmanship that we were used to. However, Alfa also pays for the drive, equipment and quality very well. At the price of the test car, you can also buy similarly motorized noble SUVs of German origin, such as an Audi Q5 or BMW X3. The Stelvio then offers more equipment, at least a four-year guarantee and then ultimately the feeling of driving an SUV that is rarely seen in this country.
Five-door, five-seater mid-range SUV; Length: 4,69 meters, width: 1,90 meters (with exterior mirrors: 2,16 meters), height: 1,69 meters, wheelbase: 2,82 meters, trunk volume: 525 - 1.600 liters
2,2 liter four-cylinder diesel; 154 kW / 210 PS, maximum torque: 470 Nm at 1.750 rpm, all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic, 0-100 km / h: 6,6 s, Vmax: 215 km / h, standard consumption: 5,5 - 5,7, 100 liters / 2 kilometers, CO144 emissions: 150 - 162 g / km (NEDC) / 182 - 6 g / km (WLTP), emissions standard: Euro 6,2d-temp, efficiency class: B, test consumption: 100 liters / XNUMX km
Price: € 57.512
Price of the test car: 66.480 Euro
Why: agile, precise handling; good workmanship; strong and economical engine
Why not: relatively tight at the back; Interior not very sensual; expensive
What else: Audi Q5; BMW X3; Jaguar F-Pace; Mercedes GLC; Lexus NX