From £31,6908
The 276bhp version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the most convincing iteration of the SUV to date, although not quite the finished dynamic article

Our Verdict

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is as entertaining as the badge promises, combining enthusiastic thrust with enjoyable handling - but is it a good enough alternative to the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace?

Richard Webber
20 September 2017

What is it?

Until the 503bhp Quadrifoglio version arrives next year, this 276bhp turbocharged petrol four-pot is the range-topping Stelvio. Having sampled it on the smooth surfaces of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Balocco test track in Italy, we’re driving it for the first time in the UK. Built alongside Alfa Romeo’s twin-turbo V6 at the Termoli plant, the all-aluminium 2.0-litre engine is familiar from the Giulia Veloce saloon and is also available in 197bhp tune.

As with all Stelvios, there’s an eight-speed torque converter from ZF and a carbonfibre prop shaft, while drive is shared between the axles by a multi-plate clutch that’s also common across the range apart from the rear-drive 2.2-litre 178bhp diesel that props up the price list. All the engine’s 295lb ft is channelled to the rear by default, but up to half can be sent forward if conditions dictate.

Our test car comes in limited-run Milano Edizione trim – a plush, top-dollar launch specification that’s only available with this engine and the 207bhp diesel. Highlights include 20in alloys, leather sports seats that are both heated and electrically adjustable up front, parking sensors at both ends, reversing camera, heated steering wheel, enormous aluminium shift paddles and sat-nav, plus the likes of power tailgate, hill-descent control and Alfa’s DNA drive selector that feature on all Stelvios.

What's it like?

There’s lots to like about this engine and it makes a fine match for the athletically inclined Stelvio. It’s a relatively subdued and obedient partner during gentler sorties, the auto ’box helping it mosey through urban shuffles and easy A-road canters promptly but without undue fuss with the DNA selector in N, for ‘Natural’ (A, for ‘Advanced Efficiency’, overly retards the drivetrain). It’s suitably quiet when cruising at 70mph, too.

But it really starts to shine when pressed, with robust acceleration available from just over 2000rpm most of the way to the rev limiter at 6000rpm. Turbo lag is perfectly manageable given the engine’s healthy specific output, and while the soundtrack won’t feature on Alfa’s greatest hits LP, it becomes quite racy as revs rise and is firmly an asset more than a liability.

With DNA in D, for ‘Dynamic’, the engine’s full repertoire is unlocked, throttle response improves and the gearshifts become enjoyably brisk, giving a nice little thump on the way up that’s more often seen in cars with a sleeker silhouette. Likewise, hold the left paddle and the ZF trips through downshifts sequentially, hold the right paddle and it upshifts then slips back into auto, or pull both to find neutral for a neighbourly blip of the throttle. Combined with the steering wheel-mounted starter button, these features heighten the sensation that this high-riding five-door is more game than most.

The Stelvio certainly feels capable of its impressive 5.7sec to 62mph claim and, when employing this eagerness, you’ll find its cornering skills are up to snuff, too. Roll is well contained, grip is strong at both ends and there’s a sweetness to the car’s mid-bend attitude that speaks of both its 50/50 weight distribution and keen, aluminium-clipped kerb weight of 1660kg.

The steering is very quick for this class and is more apt here than in lesser-powered Stelvios, but feel is limited and the weighting, which never quite reaches what you’d call heavy, doesn’t seem especially natural or progressive.

As with the steering set-up, the Stelvio’s front double wishbone and rear multilink suspension architecture is inherited from the Giulia, but the taller car’s different springs and dampers can’t muster the saloon’s ride quality. While never harsh, it can even get a little busy across smooth-looking surfaces, and the rippled back roads of our test route unearthed a reactiveness that had us trimming our speed at times. The brakes are strong but employ an electro-mechanical actuator, and the resulting pedal feel takes some getting used to.

The balance of the Stelvio package is as before: generous occupant and luggage space, cabin materials that manage the ‘premium’ tag but not much more and a good driving position with well-placed controls. Niggles are a limited rear view, headrests that nudge your pate forward a bit and an infotainment system that is effective enough but idiosyncratic.

Should I buy one?

With this engine, the Stelvio’s on-paper attractions are manifold. Around this price point, it’s both quicker and more efficient than the 296bhp petrol Jaguar F-Pace and manages similar performance to the significantly heavier Porsche Macan S, yet it is much cleaner and more spacious. A 249bhp Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI isn’t quite as swift but is otherwise a close statistical match for the Stelvio, yet the Q5 can be had in its simplest trim for a few grand less.

The Alfa can’t equal the Macan’s class-leading dynamic credentials, but it wouldn’t be a million miles away were it not for that animated ride. A Performance Pack is in the pipeline to include a limited-slip rear differential and adaptive dampers, the latter of which could prove an upgrade worth waiting for.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 280 Q4 AWD Milano Edizione

Where Belfast, UK; On sale Now; Price £45,390; Engine 4 cyl, 1995cc, turbo, petrol; Power 276bhp at 5250rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 2250rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerbweight 1660kg; Top speed 143mph; 0-62mph 5.7sec; Fuel economy 40.4mpg; CO2 rating 161g/km; Rivals Audi Q5, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace

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Comments
22

20 September 2017

Problem is for the same money you're within sniffing distance of the equivalent Porsche. And no matter how fast and bling’d up the Alfa is you know the Porsche will hold its value, stay in one piece and impress the neighbours Sorry Alfa but if that Mito’s bonnet release hadn’t come off in my hand 5 years ago I would be kinder.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

20 September 2017

For approximately the same price you can buy a BMW X3 (new model) with a 3 litre, six cylinder engine, and the front number plate in the correct place, i.e. Not off to one side making the front end look lopsided.

Not seeing anything here that would tempt me away from the BMW dealer.

20 September 2017

Fair comment, but the downsides would be that the X3 would be less interesting, slower, uglier, and.... well an X3 really. 

20 September 2017
sipod wrote:

Fair comment, but the downsides would be that the X3 would be less interesting, slower, uglier, and.... well an X3 really. 

0-60 in 5.8 seconds.  0.1 of a second slower than the Alfa!  The X3 has 457 lb/ft to the Alfa's comparatively weedy 295 lb/ft.  Slower out on the road, in the real world?  Nah, the X3 would leave the Alfa for dead.

Less interesting?  If you want to be interested by an unreliable, badly made piece of Italian junk, go ahead and buy an Alfa.  I'd rather have a reliable, quality, well made car thank you (we have had our mark 1 X3 for 10 years and it has never let us down.

Ugly?  The new X3 looks fantastic.  It does everything my family and I could want of it, so I (and many thousands of other owners) am glad it is an X3.  I assume you are yet another BMW hater that appears so prevalent on these message boards?

20 September 2017
martin_66 wrote:

sipod wrote:

Fair comment, but the downsides would be that the X3 would be less interesting, slower, uglier, and.... well an X3 really. 

0-60 in 5.8 seconds.  0.1 of a second slower than the Alfa!  The X3 has 457 lb/ft to the Alfa's comparatively weedy 295 lb/ft.  Slower out on the road, in the real world?  Nah, the X3 would leave the Alfa for dead.

Less interesting?  If you want to be interested by an unreliable, badly made piece of Italian junk, go ahead and buy an Alfa.  I'd rather have a reliable, quality, well made car thank you (we have had our mark 1 X3 for 10 years and it has never let us down.

Ugly?  The new X3 looks fantastic.  It does everything my family and I could want of it, so I (and many thousands of other owners) am glad it is an X3.  I assume you are yet another BMW hater that appears so prevalent on these message boards?

 

If you and other delusional BMW drivers think the X3 looks “fantastic” then that explains the sometimes questionable driving habits that BMW pilots all too often display. Had 14 Alfa’s, yet to experience “the badly made unreliable piece of Italian junk” thing. Luckily long since learned to ignore bar stool experts so no bother.

20 September 2017

 

Zimmerit]</p><p>[quote=martin_66 wrote:

sipod wrote:

Fair comment, but the downsides would be that the X3 would be less interesting, slower, uglier, and.... well an X3 really. 

0-60 in 5.8 seconds.  0.1 of a second slower than the Alfa!  The X3 has 457 lb/ft to the Alfa's comparatively weedy 295 lb/ft.  Slower out on the road, in the real world?  Nah, the X3 would leave the Alfa for dead.

Less interesting?  If you want to be interested by an unreliable, badly made piece of Italian junk, go ahead and buy an Alfa.  I'd rather have a reliable, quality, well made car thank you (we have had our mark 1 X3 for 10 years and it has never let us down.

Ugly?  The new X3 looks fantastic.  It does everything my family and I could want of it, so I (and many thousands of other owners) am glad it is an X3.  I assume you are yet another BMW hater that appears so prevalent on these message boards?

 

If you and other delusional BMW drivers think the X3 looks “fantastic” then that explains the sometimes questionable driving habits that BMW pilots all too often display. Had 14 Alfa’s, yet to experience “the badly made unreliable piece of Italian junk” thing. Luckily long since learned to ignore bar stool experts so no bother.

[/quote)

"delusional". Ha ha ha!  24,558 X3s sold across Europe in the first seven months of this year alone!  That's a hell of a lot of "delusional" people out there!  Try driving one - you will soon discover why we like them so much.

Oh, and I found your "bar stool experts" comment hysterical after your "questionable driving habits that BMW pilots all too often display".  Just outed yourself as a "bar stool expert yourself!

I've had 2 Alfas.  I really should have learned my lesson the first time.  Never again.

20 September 2017

I was referring to their suspect style taste, obviously lost on you. I would mention that I currently drive a 320 diseasil, fine car....

but no match for the Giulia I test drove the other month.

The Ford Cortina used to sell rather well to, marvellous car.

Not!

20 September 2017

[quote=Zimmerit]

I was referring to their suspect style taste, obviously lost on you. I would mention that I currently drive a 320 diseasil, fine car....

but no match for the Giulia I test drove the other month.

The Ford Cortina used to sell rather well to, marvellous car.

Not!

[/quote)

A "suspect style taste" which is also lost on thousands and thousands and thousands of other people too, apparently........Just because you don't like it, don't assume that all those thousands of people have "suspect taste".  That is arrogant in the extreme.

And re the Ford Cortina - interesting analogy which I am not quite getting.  Are you suggesting that the 4.3 MILLION people who bought one were ALL wrong?

21 September 2017

 

[/quote)

A "suspect style taste" which is also lost on thousands and thousands and thousands of other people too, apparently........Just because you don't like it, don't assume that all those thousands of people have "suspect taste".  That is arrogant in the extreme.

And re the Ford Cortina - interesting analogy which I am not quite getting.  Are you suggesting that the 4.3 MILLION people who bought one were ALL wrong?

[/quote]

 

You really must give me the name of your dealer, some great gear you are on. Mates all fell of their barstools at being called “arrogant” by a fellow BMW pilot. As for the X3 styling it is at very best and this is stretching it “distinguished ‘ but “fantastic” see reference to psychedelic drugs.

As to 4.3 Cortina buyers being wrong, yes they were, simple one that. Next!

21 September 2017
Zimmerit wrote:

 

[/quote)

A "suspect style taste" which is also lost on thousands and thousands and thousands of other people too, apparently........Just because you don't like it, don't assume that all those thousands of people have "suspect taste".  That is arrogant in the extreme.

And re the Ford Cortina - interesting analogy which I am not quite getting.  Are you suggesting that the 4.3 MILLION people who bought one were ALL wrong?

 

You really must give me the name of your dealer, some great gear you are on. Mates all fell of their barstools at being called “arrogant” by a fellow BMW pilot. As for the X3 styling it is at very best and this is stretching it “distinguished ‘ but “fantastic” see reference to psychedelic drugs.

As to 4.3 Cortina buyers being wrong, yes they were, simple one that. Next!

[/quote]

Yes, you are arrogant.  BMW drivers have questionable driving habits?  Fair point,  because of course every Audi, Mercedes, Ford, Vauxhall (etc etc) driver is a paragon of perfect driving! Ha!  You need to come into the 21st century mate.  All those jokes about BMWs being driven by idiots are so last century.

Re my dealer - never consumed illegal drugs in my life.  However, your preference for an Alfa over a BMW leads me to suspect something strange is occurring in your brain.  Just because those three idiots who used to be on Top Gear think a true "petrolhead" has to love an Alfa, don't make it true.

You like to display your prejudices I see - first BMWs and now the venerable old Cortina, a car that sold in the millions for a very long time. Alfa Romeo can only dream about that sort of sales success.

Talking of sales success, keep an eye on the sales figures for the new X3 versus the Stelvio.  I don't deny that the Stelvio is nice to look at, but the BMW will outsell it massively.  If the Stelvio was so much better and so much more desirable it would sell better than the X3, but it isn't and it won't.

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