The Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s dark but purposeful cockpit sets the tone rather effectively for the exciting driving experience to come. The car’s fittings aren’t universally or even very widely of high enough perceived quality to match what you’ll find in an Audi SQ5, GLC 63 or Porsche Macan Turbo but, just as with the Giulia, Turin is gambling that won’t be a turn-off for Stelvio owners.
It’s quite a lot more likely to be a turn-off for a Stelvio owner spending £75,000 on a car than someone spending £40,000, we’d point out; especially since the efforts made to enrich this car’s cabin (leather on top of the dashboard and on the doors and lacquered carbonfibre deployed liberally) don’t distract you for long from the places where the interior looks and feels cheap (ventilation controls, gearlever, steering column plastics, steering wheel button consoles).
But there are certainly some notable material highlights to cherish. The large aluminium column-mounted shift paddles look and feel great. The optional Sparco Carbonshell lightweight seats look great, too, holding your backside in place very well, although we can imagine the standard electric heated sports seats would be comfier.
Alfa’s small-diameter flat-bottomed steering wheel, featuring leather, Alcantara and carbonfibre, feels superb although it could do with more reach adjustment. But between one thing and the next, your appetite is whetted rather skilfully.
Alfa’s hot Stelvio has arrived just as the Italian firm has got around to making its 8.8in Alfa Connect infotainment system compliant with smartphone mirroring. It will connect with both Apple and Android handsets and delivers quite a lot more connected services, through your phone’s data connection, as a result.
An infotainment system in a £70,000 car probably shouldn’t rely on your smartphone’s data connection as squarely as that, mind you. And in other respects, the Alfa’s Magneti Marelli-developed set-up doesn’t distinguish itself too well.
It’s controlled through an iDrive-style wheel of the sort we would generally prefer to a touchscreen system anyway, but it still seems a bit more cumbersome to use than the best premium-grade systems. The navigation system is considerably less adaptable and detailed than it ought to be, and it’ll be a while yet before Stelvio owners will be treated to things like a fully digital instrument screen or a head-up display – both of which you’ve got a right to expect, at least as an option, on this kind of car.
Those drawn to this car at least partly for its space and usability ought to be reasonably pleased that it offers a good deal more on both scores than the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The altitude at which the cabin seats you isn’t quite as high as SUVs of this size typically do, so the driving position is pretty recumbent, and you’ll find enough room in the back seats for full-sized adult passengers, although you sit in a lower and more bent-legged pose than some might expect to.
The boot is a good size, although not huge (just above 500 litres assuming you avoid a spacesaver spare wheel) and has load-lashing points as standard, with both a cargo net and a more flexible load area rail system on the options list.