From £31,6907
Most powerful diesel version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is swift and more frugal than its closest rivals, but makes less sense than the range-topping petrol version

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
21 September 2017

What is it?

Despite recent market shifts away from diesel, Alfa expects that 84% of Stelvios sold will be oil-burners. This in turn means a 2143cc four-cylinder engine in either entry-level 178bhp form (available in rear-drive or ‘Q4’ four-wheel-drive spec) or the peppier 207bhp version driven here, which comes with Q4 as standard. This is our first spin in a UK market right-hand-drive example.

Rounded up to 2.2 litres for naming purposes, the car features an all-aluminium diesel engine and defies convention by actually weighing less than its 2.0-litre petrol counterpart – albeit by only 1kg. At 1659kg, it’s a lightweight by premium SUV standards, further aided by the extensive use of aluminium body panels and suspension components, and a carbonfibre prop shaft. The transmission is the same eight-speed ZF torque converter that features across the line-up.

The suspension architecture (front double wishbones, multi-link rear) is lifted from the Giulia saloon with which the Stelvio shares the Giorgio platform, although new springs and dampers have been introduced for the higher-riding Stelvio.

Our test car comes in Super specification – the lowest grade available with this engine. It features the likes of power tailgate, hill-descent control, 8.8in infotainment touchscreen with sat-nav, Alfa’s DNA drive selector, 18in alloys, sat-nav and part-leather seats; although after the options list had been raided, this example’s spec largely surpassed the £3800 pricier Speciale model. Limited-run Milano Edizione spec is a temporary range-topper at launch, commanding an additional £1700.

What's it like?

It’s a decent performer, with little lag to contend with and a good slug of motive force available between 1750rpm and 4000rpm. There’s a bit of a rough churn from the diesel unit at idle, though, and while engine noise never becomes overbearing, its chatter never really fades, either. It sounds quite industrial at low revs when dawdling about town and even a small flex of the right foot when cruising brings more of the same. It also strains at higher revs, but there’s little need to venture near the 4800rpm limiter, anyway.

While the Stelvio happily gobbles up motorway miles, it does so with less assurance than might be expected from a premium SUV, with noticeable tyre roar from our car’s optional 19in rims and a fair amount of A-pillar wind noise, too. At times, there was also vibration felt through the throttle pedal.

Yet the Stelvio still has plenty of skills to offer when it comes to less mundane driving, thanks to a capable chassis that curbs roll nicely and gels with the four-wheel-drive system to provide impressive cornering ability. By default, all drive is sent to the rear axle, but a multi-plate clutch can divert up to 50% forward as required and understeer is well contained on all but the sharpest of bends. A sure-footed full-throttle launch on a loose surface also spoke well of the Q4 system’s alacrity.

The otherwise inconspicuously efficient gearbox perks up when pressing on, too. Switching the DNA selector to D (for ‘Dynamic’) brings usefully rapid upshifts from the right paddle and racy sequential downshifts when holding down the left, while also engaging maximum powertrain pep.

The steering is unusually sharp for this class and is perhaps better suited to the quicker, 276bhp petrol version, but allows you to guide the car confidently through a series of bends at pace. Feel is sparse and the weighting could be more natural, however.

Concerns linger over the Stelvio’s ride, as even seemingly insignificant imperfections keep the chassis busy and it doesn’t often feel truly settled. Some will happily swallow this trade-off for the Stelvio’s fleet-footedness, but others may want to wait for the adaptive dampers that will be paired with a rear limited-slip differential in the forthcoming Performance Pack.

The Stelvio’s interior package scores well for practicality and usability: there’s plenty of space for four or even five people and their luggage, and the suitably commanding driving position and switchgear layout are good. And while falling short of Jaguar and the usual Germans, the quality of materials certainly merits premium status.

Should I buy one?

This model costs just £38,490, which is three to four grand less than the cheapest version of the comparably swift BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace or Mercedes-Benz GLC - they are all much heavier and much thirstier than the Alfa, which manages an excellent 58.9mpg and 127g/km of CO2. The equivalent Audi Q5 costs and emits around the same, but is quite a bit slower, too.

While it has some rough edges – notably regarding ride and refinement – those seeking agility, value and a bit of style from their SUV would still be advised to consider this Stelvio.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 210 Diesel Q4 AWD Super

Where Belfast, UK; On sale Now; Price £38,490; Engine 4 cyls, 2143cc, turbo, diesel; Power 207bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 347lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerbweight 1659kg; Top speed 134mph; 0-62mph 6.6sec; Fuel economy 58.9mpg; CO2 rating 127g/km; Rivals Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace

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Comments
8

21 September 2017

I'm struggling to see why its only got three and a half stars

For starters the Stelvio is cheaper and more frugal than the oposition, it scores well for usability and practicality and the performance and handling are good for this class, so apart from a possible ride issue (std 18" wheels may, or may not take care of) its hard to see where the faults lie.

Its a shame Alfa are not German or part of the JLR Group because that extra star would be well handy

21 September 2017
Richard H wrote:

I'm struggling to see why its only got three and a half stars

For starters the Stelvio is cheaper and more frugal than the oposition, it scores well for usability and practicality and the performance and handling are good for this class, so apart from a possible ride issue (std 18" wheels may, or may not take care of) its hard to see where the faults lie.

Its a shame Alfa are not German or part of the JLR Group because that extra star would be well handy

It's got a few scratchy plastics and the wrong badge.

22 September 2017
Richard H wrote:

I'm struggling to see why its only got three and a half stars

For starters the Stelvio is cheaper and more frugal than the oposition, it scores well for usability and practicality and the performance and handling are good for this class, so apart from a possible ride issue (std 18" wheels may, or may not take care of) its hard to see where the faults lie.

Its a shame Alfa are not German or part of the JLR Group because that extra star would be well handy

 

Yeah it's pretty much that tbh

Autocar etc have to keep their funding up to keep themselves in jobs somehow, badge bias is rife likely depending on who is writing the bigger cheque at the time. 

 

24 September 2017
Richard H wrote:

I'm struggling to see why its only got three and a half stars

For starters the Stelvio is cheaper and more frugal than the oposition, it scores well for usability and practicality and the performance and handling are good for this class, so apart from a possible ride issue (std 18" wheels may, or may not take care of) its hard to see where the faults lie.

Its a shame Alfa are not German or part of the JLR Group because that extra star would be well handy

What he said . . . !!

jer

21 September 2017

that puts me off no matter how economical it is. Curious how a petrol 2.0 weighs more than a 2.2 diesel. 

22 September 2017
jer wrote:

that puts me off no matter how economical it is. Curious how a petrol 2.0 weighs more than a 2.2 diesel. 

There are no diesel 4 pots that don't sound aggricultural - if you want a decent sounding diesel you need a 6 cylinder 

It just depends whether the reviewer needs to find something to nit pick on whether it's mentioned - so I wouldn't let that put anyone off from at least test driving the Stelvio.

It is curious how it's so light compared to petrol version but it's impressive statistically

22 September 2017

Just watched 2 video reviews on youtube, one said it massively out handled an F-Pace and possibly even a Macan. The other said it didn't match even the F-Pace for handling. It certainly splits the judging! - Its one of those you can read about, but really should dismiss the various agendas and test for yourself.

25 September 2017

Looking past the badge, i really don't think it looks anything special, especially the inside - it looks very cheap.

I saw a Guila the other day at the station in passing, and the panel gaps are simply not up to par with the competition, they are quite poorly finished to be honest. I think people simply want the brand to bring out something great, but really they are nothing like the old for driving pleasure (what car is), reliability woes are still there - the Gulia for example has been having not just ecu issues across multiple review sources (they can claim it to be fixed all they like, they are still messing about), it also has problems with leaks and battery issues already (not just the QF version).

Hopefully time will change things for them.

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