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The range-topping diesel Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a winner on the economy and drivability front, but can it capture the Alfa essence exuded by its petrol sibling?

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?

2 August 2017

What is it?

What we have here is the range-topping diesel version of the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio, driven in Italy over a route including the famous Alpine pass the car is named after.

The oil-burning Stelvio uses the same all-alloy 2.2-litre diesel engine that we’ve already sampled in the Giulia saloon, albeit in a higher 207bhp state of tune and with drive sent to all corners through a standard all-wheel drive system.

Numbers are certainly impressive, with Alfa claiming a 6.6-second 0-62mph time but also combined economy of 58.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 127g/km. The brawnier diesel engine is available in three trim levels from launch: Super (£38,490), Speciale (£42,290) and the fully laden Milano Edizione, as driven here; its £43,990 price second only to that of its range-topping 276bhp petrol turbo sister.

What's it like?

While British buyers have grown used to selecting diesel SUVs pretty much by default in recent years, the wider Stelvio range makes an excellent case for looking beyond the once-inevitable black pumper. While the diesel options certainly aren’t bad, petrol Stelvios, including the cheaper 197hp 2.0T, have markedly more of what might be termed Alfa-ness.

The diesel is as effortless as you would expect it to be. The engine’s peak 346lb ft arrives at just 1750rpm, and the quick-shifting autobox fitted as standard shuffles its eight ratios intelligently to keep the engine in its comfort zone. Everyday pace is delivered without effort, but requests for higher speeds have the engine revealing both the narrowness of its powerband, which fades quickly after the 3750rpm at which peak power arrives, but also a soundtrack that turns harsh under harder use, something that’s emphasized by how refined the rest of the car is. Unlike the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace, cited by Alfa as the Stelvio’s biggest rivals, there’s no option of a six-cylinder diesel engine.

Alfa claims near-identical kerbweights for both spark and compression ignition versions of the Stelvio, the 2.2D 210 being just 1kg more than the 2.0T 280. Yet the diesel’s languid power delivery gives it a more laid-back dynamic character, one that makes it feel markedly less keen over a challenging road. The diesel still turns-in crisply, although the electric steering provides only weight rather than true feel, and the diesel engine’s greater low-down brawn keeping the unkillable stability control busier in low-speed corners. As with the petrol, the electronic nanny is determined to prevent any real exploitation of the well-balanced chassis and rear-biased power delivery.

As with other variants, the Stelvio’s light but rigid body makes it feel impressively composed on rougher roads. Ride quality over frequently broken Alpine tarmac impressed, even with our test car wearing the largest available 20-inch alloys. The Stelvio feels firmly suspended, but never harsh, with body control remaining excellent even over bigger bumps and at higher speeds.

The Stelvio is practical, too. While the cabin lacks the quality feel of some of its premium rivals there’s generous space for adults both front and rear, and the 525-litre boot is large enough to warrant comparison with an actual cavern. The power-operated front seats that come with Speciale and Milano Edizione trim proved comfortable over a three-hour stint behind the wheel, offering comprehensive adjustment for occupants of almost any size. The days when ergonomic compromise came as standard on any Italian car seem increasingly far-off, thankfully.

Should I buy one?

Value remains a core part of the Stelvio’s appeal, even with this range-topping Milano Edizione ‘launch edition’. While £43,990 might look expensive compared to some punchier premium rivals, it comes with pretty much every option box ticked, from privacy glass and those eye-catching wheels to a bombastic 10-speaker audio upgrade. The Speciale on which the Milano is based, and which is £1700 cheaper, has more standard kit than any of its obvious rivals, too – and even the mid-spec Super, the lowliest trim package the 207bhp diesel is offered with, includes part-leather seats, adaptive cruise, navigation and 18in wheels.

But if you are tempted by a Stelvio then don’t discount the petrol versions. The diesels win on economy and drivability, but even the less powerful 2.0T’s revvier and more civilised powerplant is nice enough to offset its performance advantage, feeling keener and more responsive. Isn’t that what Alfas are supposed to be about?  

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2D Milano Edizione

Location Italy; On sale September; Price £43,990; Engine 4 cyls, 2143cc, diesel; Power 207bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 346lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1659kg; 0-62mph 6.6-sec; Top speed 133mph; Economy 58.9mpg (combined); CO2, tax band 127g/km, 27%; Rivals Jaguar F-Pace 2.0D i4 240PS, Porsche Macan S Diesel 

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Comments
24

2 August 2017

I've read this, so called article several times and i can't see why it should only get three and a half stars.

The article on the petrol version has been hidden in the depths

Usual Autocar bias?

Surely not

2 August 2017
Richard H wrote:

I've read this, so called article several times and i can't see why it should only get three and a half stars.

The article on the petrol version has been hidden in the depths

Usual Autocar bias?

Surely not

I agree entirely. Reading this review, this version appears to be a firm 4 star car like the petrol variant which was also tested, but hidden away on these pages. Now, were this a F-Pace review, I suspect things world be different, as would the star rating....

2 August 2017
Richard H wrote:

I've read this, so called article several times and i can't see why it should only get three and a half stars.

The article on the petrol version has been hidden in the depths

Usual Autocar bias?

Surely not

The review of the petrol version has been changed to four. At least this one got on the front page, although not to the giddy heights of the Jaguar piece.

Whilst I personally take the star ratings not too seriously I do wonder why both these reviews only got 3.5.

2 August 2017

Surely yes. This magazine seems unable to rate any Alfa Romeo remotely fairly against it's German rivals. But a BMW badge on this car and 5* is automatic.

 

2 August 2017

Surely yes. This magazine seems unable to rate any Alfa Romeo remotely fairly against it's German rivals. But a BMW badge on this car and 5* is automatic.

 

2 August 2017
the brush wrote:

Surely yes. This magazine seems unable to rate any Alfa Romeo remotely fairly against it's German rivals. But a BMW badge on this car and 5* is automatic.

 

 

Perhaps they're just not as good - build quality, reliablity, refinement etc - the list goes on.

2 August 2017
robhardyuk wrote:

the brush wrote:

Surely yes. This magazine seems unable to rate any Alfa Romeo remotely fairly against it's German rivals. But a BMW badge on this car and 5* is automatic.

 

 

Perhaps they're just not as good - build quality, reliablity, refinement etc - the list goes on.

No, they're not as good but it's not as big a difference as some may think, particularly when Afla R&D budget for this platform was tiny compared to what BMWs would be. Having some experience of both the Stelvio and the F Pace both are closer than this magazine in particular would let on.

9 August 2017

Three and a half Alfa stars are worth four and half "VAG" stars.  This car is brilliant! :D

 

Ralf S.

2 August 2017

Wouldnt Alfa let Autocar take tehir own pictures ? Always press pics for some reason.

9 August 2017

It's more a case that Autocar will use Press photos rather than take their own.  It's just easier and cheaper.. :)

 

Ralf S.

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