The pictures might not convey this but, dimensionally, the Stelvio is more super-sized hatchback than traditional SUV.

It’s marginally taller than a Macan and quite a bit shorter than a BMW X5, which illustrates that Alfa is attempting to purvey athleticism over any utilitarian ideals.

Richard Lane

Road tester
The by-wire braking system compensates for fade, which seems a bit misguided. You may never push the brakes that hard but, if you do, you’d be glad to know how they’re bearing up

The front end is all but a straight transplant from the Giulia saloon – a little chubbier, certainly, and less handsome for it – and it is linked to the steeply raked rear by a relatively high belt line.

There’s the hint of a shooting brake here and that’s no bad thing.

Underneath its unusually rigid body, the Stelvio is built on the same modular Giorgio platform as the Giulia and, scanning the spec sheet of our four-wheel-drive diesel test car, one figure in particular demands a second glance: a kerb weight of 1659kg.

That’s remarkably light, and hints at the use of aluminium for the suspension and much of the body. The Stelvio also employs a carbonfibre driveshaft, with the decision to use a brake-by-wire system chasing yet more weight out.

Filling out the Stelvio range beneath the flagship, vent-laden Quadrifoglio model – whose Ferrari-derived 503bhp twin-turbo V6 recently propelled it to a new Nürburgring lap record for an SUV – is a choice of either a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine or a 2.2-litre diesel.

Each is available in two states of tune, so you can have your non-QV Stelvio with as little as 177bhp or as much as 276bhp, with Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system mandatory across the range except in the base diesel model, which gets the option of a solely rear-driven chassis.

As with the Giulia, power is sent through an eight-speed automatic gearbox developed by German firm ZF and used widely among luxury car makers.

The suspension, meanwhile, features a passive set-up, with Alfa’s ‘DNA’ mode selector altering only the response of the gearbox, engine map, stability control (which cannot be entirely deactivated) and Q4 driveline. There’s also an absence of control gear alluding to any variable-terrain programmes, this car being pitched as a road-going SUV.

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