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Alfa Romeo’s first SUV aims to hoist the handling panache of the Giulia saloon

It was during November 2014 that we caught our first glimpse of what seemed at the time a bizarre but simultaneously inevitable development: a sports utility vehicle from Alfa Romeo.

The test mule – a Maserati Ghibli, seemingly on stilts and with a truncated wheelbase – bore almost no resemblance to the final product seen here, but it heralded something of a departure in philosophy for a marque steeped in the passion of performance.

Bi-xenon headlights look sharp, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise given that they take the shape of a boning knife

For enthusiasts, at least, that was the bizarre bit.

It was inevitable because parent group Fiat had long harboured designs to reposition Alfa Romeo as a volume rival for the likes of Audi and BMW and naturally the most effective way to achieve that was by building a credible SUV.

A nice idea, sure, although given the undeniably pretty but dynamically flawed saloons the brand had given us during the preceding decade, it seemed a stretch to imagine that Alfa could competitively engineer arguably the most difficult of all the vehicle types.

What we didn’t know back then was just how good the Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon – the first vehicle in Alfa’s new era, introduced in 2016 in the form of the fire-breathing Quadrifoglio model – would turn out to be.

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It had a peach of a driving position and maintained poise and stability in the face of challenging British roads.

Crucially, it was also attractive, and idiosyncratic, which meant Alfa had successfully executed a two-step-forward march without faltering back. Now consider that the new Stelvio shares much with the Giulia, including its design language and the majority of its engineering.

But back to 2014, because it was then that we summarised the unborn Stelvio’s mission statement.

It was to present itself as a dynamic competitor to the Porsche Macan while at the same time exhibiting the kind of design that has given the Range Rover Evoque such magnetic appeal.

Now, we get to find out whether that heady ambition has been realised. 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio First drives