For the real Alfinisti this car is probably a shock. A long-legged SUV may bear the logo of a brand that has been relying on its sporty genes for years. Alfa boss Reid Bigland, who is also responsible for Maserati in the Fiat Group, has words of comfort ready: "Our Stelvio sets new standards in the small family of sporty SUVs. He is stronger and faster than a Porsche Macan ". At least that's true for the super-Stelvio, who now rolled onto the stage at the premiere at the auto show in Los Angeles. As in Alfa The flagship model is commonly called Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) and boasts a performance of 375 kW / 510 PS, which it gets from its 2,9-liter six-cylinder with twin turbo. Ferrari, another Fiat brand, has helped hand in the development. Already well-known in the Giulia limousine, the engine shines with 600 Newton meters' pull, is sure to be good in the heavier Stelvio for Tempo 300 and a sprint to 100 km / h in just under four seconds.
A sports car for the Nürburgring as well as for muddy slopes. Because the newcomer has inherited the four-wheel drive already known from the Giulia. Under normal conditions, the 4,68 meter long Stelvio is powered primarily by the rear axle. If the liability is lost, up to 50 percent of the force can be transferred to the bow. The sophisticated system also includes an electronic locking differential at the rear, combined with an active "torque vectoring" (steering effects in curves through specific redistribution of the driving force to individual wheels). All this promises a maximum of agile maneuverability on the paper when cornering. "We will show at the Nürburgring that the Stelvio set new records," promises brand leader Bigland, but admits that his sports SUV has rocked the legendary race track so far only in the simulator.
So far so good, at least for those die-hard or newly conquered Alfa fans with a big budget who absolutely want to own a four-wheel drive with more than 500 PS. Much more important than such a powerhouse, which will probably cost well 80.000 Euro, are the normal versions. They should finally bring in the house Alfa again for noteworthy sales figures. Where Reid Bigland can not yet look in the cards. He confirms at least that the 206 kW / 280 PS strong two-liter turbo is available for the Stelvio. Sure, the top manager speaks in the US, where diesel engines are currently not very popular.
For Europe, the 2,2-liter diesel with 154 kW / 210 PS will probably be the first choice. Which other engines from the plump Giulia offer can be ordered for the newcomer remains a mystery. But it is clear that four-wheel drive in the weaker versions, if at all for an additional cost to have. Since Alfa is based on its pricing on the BMW X3 minus ten percent, the entry fee for the Stelvio should start at about 40.000 Euro. After all, according to Reid Bigland Alfa belongs to the so-called premium class, where everything may be a little more expensive.
Whatever lurks beneath the plate, the carefully drawn outer skin must first attract attention. Chief designer Klaus Busse, who landed at Alfa via Mercedes, Chrysler and Jeep, summons the "responsibility that weighed on his team for its glorious history." The result was a rather compact-looking SUV, which shares many details with the technically so closely related Giulia. Not only the design of the interior resembles the sedan, also front and rear section were largely adopted. The tapered rear window stands for sporty dynamics and allows comparisons to the Porsche Macan. The face is dominated by the resembling typical Alfa grill that can be proudly carried back since the Giulia. Since the Stelvio is four inches longer, you sit in the rear quite comfortable. At first glance, however, the luggage compartment seems rather manageable. The same is true for the range of assistance systems that are abundant in the price lists of the targeted rivals, while Stelvio is rather modest. There is also a lot of catching up to do here, as is the case with the design of the navigation screen or networking with the virtual outside world.
Still, you do not have to learn the profession of a prophet to predict Stelvio's place in the future Alfa Sales Hit Parade. The trend towards more and more SUVs on our roads plays the latecomer from Italy into the cards. The sister brand has done it. The first SUV named Levante immediately became the best-selling Maserati model. (Peter Maahn / SP-X)