From £31,6908
Even without the snarling twin-turbo V6 from the Quadrifoglio under the bonnet, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is still a compelling driver's SUV

Our Verdict

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

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

Simon Davis
20 December 2018
Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 280 Speciale 2018 UK

What is it?

Putting both the snarling, fire-breathing Quadrifoglio-badged model and the limited-run Milano Edizione launch special firmly to one side, this Stelvio Speciale is the poshest version of Alfa Romeo’s Giulia-derived SUV you can get your hands on.

And with a 276bhp turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet, it’s also one of the quickest. Of course, this greater degree of performance and pedigree does come at a higher cost; to get one, you’ll have to part with a not-so-miserly £43,705.

So, what does your money get you, aside from what we already know to be one of the more agile, keener-handling SUVs currently on sale? Mostly, it’s a healthy amount of standard kit. Even before you delve into the options list, Alfa Romeo will throw in full leather upholstery, heated front seats, an 8.8in infotainment with DAB radio and navigation, 19in alloys, a heated leather sports steering wheel and a veritable arsenal of active safety systems. Not a bad haul, really.

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What's it like?

While that all might sounds fairly convincing on paper, when you get settled behind the wheel you’ll likely find that the Stelvio Speciale leaves you wanting slightly in terms of material quality; especially when you consider it’s pitched to take on the likes of the Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan.

Much like the Giulia saloon with which the Stelvio shares much of its interior aesthetic with, from a distance you can see that some effort has gone in to making the SUV’s cabin appealing on the design front. Cool monochrome colours are used in abundance, that 8.8in touchscreen is integrated cleanly into the dash fascia, and the steering column-mounted metal paddleshifters provide a clear hint of the Stelvio’s sporting pretensions.

Under closer inspection, however, you’ll find that many of the materials used in the Alfa’s cabin seem to be fashioned from fairly low-grade materials. The aluminium-effect panelling on the centre console, for instance, feels cheap; while the rotary dials that control the infotainment and drive mode selection are made from what feels like rather flimsy plastic.

That said, while the execution of the cabin’s finish might not quite be up to the standard you’d expect from a near £44,000 SUV, there are things it gets right. Driving position, for instance is spot on. The supportive, well-bolstered seats hold you firmly in position, and while the steering column could perhaps do with with a touch more adjustability for reach, there’s no noticeable offset. 

It’s roomy, too; there’s enough head- and legroom in the second row to ensure two adults will be able to sit in comfort over a longer journey, while it’s 525-litre boot is larger than a Porsche Macan’s (500 litres) and only marginally smaller than an Audi Q5’s (550 litres).

So as a premium offering, the Stelvio Speciale is a bit hit and miss. The likes of BMW, Porsche and Audi all have it licked as far as perceived and realised quality and finish are concerned. 

Out on the road, though, it remains a very compelling thing indeed. Knock the DNA drive mode selector into ‘Dynamic’, and and the Stelvio’s already prevalent sense of urgency will be amplified.

Doing so will add a bit more heft to the steering rack, which, at 2.25 turns lock-to-lock, lends the Stelvio a front end that’s incredibly keen on the idea of changing directions quickly, throttle response will become more immediate, and gear changes much snappier. As adaptive dampers aren’t a standard feature here, the ride won’t be affected; which is a good thing, as there’s a noticeable fidgetiness at town speeds. But get the Stelvio out on a faster, stretch of B-road, where more energy can through the suspension as the car interacts with the topography of the road, and the Stelvio will start to shine.

With a fair lick on, the inherent stiffness of the Stelvio’s set-up makes for closely-controlled vertical movements over undulating surfaces, but equally doesn’t give way to any uncouth crashing over cats-eyes or pock-marks. The restrained fashion in which lateral roll is doled out makes for impressive composure through quick-fire directional changes, too.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine, meanwhile, is impressively enthusiastic, if a little lacking on an outright sense of theatre. But for a degree of lag, it’ll pull tenaciously from about 2000rpm, and will continue to do so right until the point it hits its limiter at 6000rpm. And you’ll tease that limiter time and time again, too; this engine certainly isn’t averse to being thrashed. 

Left to its own devices, the eight-speed ZF transmission will swap cogs out with an impressive sense of fluency, but opting to change ratios yourself via the beautifully tactile paddleshifters is far more preferable. The Stelvio isn’t afraid to show off the rear-drive bias of its Q4 all-wheel-drive system either; with little in the way of coaxing required to see the back end step out of line.

Should I buy one?

That depends on what you’re really in the market for. If it’s a refined, comfortable and well-finished SUV, then the likes of an Audi Q5 will probably suit your needs more than the Stelvio. The chopiness of the low-speed ride and at-times questionable quality of materials used in the cabin will likely be a turn-off for some.

If, however, you want an SUV that’ll engage and excite your senses when the road clears and you’ve got nowhere else to be, you won’t go too far wrong with the Stelvio Speciale.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 280 Q4 AWD Speciale

Where Surrey; On sale Now; Price £43,705; 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
12

20 December 2018

It is expensive for what it is.

21 December 2018
max1e6 wrote:

It is expensive for what it is.

A grand over £30K ,280bhp, seats five, not many better for the money, ok, by the time you option it up it might be two grand more, but, at least it’s not a munter, it is nice on the Eye,not like some we could mention......

jer

20 December 2018

And it fits most of what I would look for. This petrol 280 Milano with the right spec - wheels, performance pack (diff and adaptive shocks), parking pack is pretty expensive for the Milano I think >50k, finance and discount are nothing special and that's a scary amount of money to sink into a new car unproven with some iffy perceived quality - look at the bottom of the doors and the Nav screen! Then some reviews say refinement road noise etc is quite high and in the end I walked away. But I still come back and look maybe I don't need all the Porscheness just make it cheaper Alfa.

20 December 2018

It’s been said before, but Autocar places too much emphasis on perceived quality. This is supposedly a platform for enthusiasts, who will be more persuaded by the fundamental ergonomics, dynamics and the underlying quality and durability.

21 December 2018
scrap wrote:

It’s been said before, but Autocar places too much emphasis on perceived quality. This is supposedly a platform for enthusiasts, who will be more persuaded by the fundamental ergonomics, dynamics and the underlying quality and durability.

Totally agree, maybe the materials are lighter weight but that is the point, Alfa have done a great job keeping the total weight down which leads to better efficiency and agility on what is still a big and practical car. I do think equipment levels are a bit poor for the prices though.

20 December 2018

I have to say the Stelvio is growing on me, didn’t much care for the when it was launched past but over time... That engine is a peach. I have it in the Guilia Veloce, and although it has it’s foibles, after two years it has been a compelling package. A real drivers car, and I’ve found it a refreshing change after years of German ‘prestige’ car’s. 

21 December 2018
It's very good looking and the rear biased AWD system sounds amazing, it's more attractive than the Levente from Maserati but there's better alternatives at this price point

21 December 2018

It is the profile design that lets this car down badly, being bland and generic, lacking any Italianate flair or imagation. Alfa may have a strong identifiable front but the days of the exquisite and perfectly balanced side view of the 156 are long gone.

21 December 2018

I agree with the comments above... Autocar seem to be to bothered by what they perceive as material quality.  I have sat in and test driven several Stelvios and only saw a classy interior (though I was coming froma Giulietta) and a fantastic car to drive.

As for the comment about it being too expensive.  Given the standard equipment and safety features that come standard there is no way this is the case comapred to its rivals.

However, I may be biased... I have ordered a Stelvio... albeit a more "basic" Super version with a 200PS Petrol engine.  Can't wait!

23 December 2018

Why does Autocar find those stated KIT items as being special and worthy of the ticket price.,The simple Otavia we recently purchased (assembled in Russia where we live which negates 35% duty) but STANDARD so called kit included

heated from AND rear seats (front also heated lumber support)

Floor lighting in all footwells

Ice scraper fitted inside fuel filler cap

Umbrella fitted into underside passenger front seat

9inch screen

alloys all round 17 inch (will be upgraded to 18)

heated steering wheel

rain sensative windscreen wipers

Auto lighting for day and night

Auto dipping rear view mirror

grab handles which cruise smoothly back into position

just to mention some..and of course built on the MQB platform same as the Audi A6 and Passat its so damned quiet inside (6 speed auto) and whilst no racing car, I am happy to only consume 7.2 litres every 100kl which includes 80% town work)

The seats are comfortable the stearing is ajustable for reach and height, it has sport and standard drive modes, and the price...lol wxactly 15,000 pounds, oh and we pay 0.45 pence per litre for 95 octane

 

 

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