We drive Alfa Romeo's first ever SUV on Irish roads
Pros: Sporty drive, distinctive styling, punchy performance
Cons: Better practicality and infotainment in rivals, not for off-road
Alfa Romeo is on a roll lately and 2018 could prove to be a monumental year for the brand. Not only will the Italian car manufacturer return to Formula One after over three decades of absence, but it will also foray into the SUV segment for the first time with the all-new Stelvio. The Stelvio has many of the necessary ingredients for success in this corner of the market, including a premium cabin, an engaging drive and of course, standout styling and flair. The premium SUV class is an incredibly competitive space however, with cars like the Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan to compete with. We spent a week with the Stelvio to see what it is like on Irish roads.
What is it like?
The Stelvio is one of the prettiest SUVs on the market right now with its classic v-shaped front grille, swooping roofline and twin rear exhaust pipes. It is based on the same platform as the Maserati Levante and shares styling similarities with the Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon, but on a much larger scale. As standard, it’s equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear lights and body coloured mirrors with integrated LED indicators, however our range-topping Milano Edizione test car is kitted out with huge 20-inch alloy wheels, dark tinted privacy glass and gloss black window surrounds for a sportier finish.
The Stelvio’s interior is also reminiscent of the Giulia’s, with plenty of soft touch materials and chrome detailing. The driver’s area is impressive with deep instrument cowls and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen that is beautifully-integrated into the dashboard, while the driving position is 190mm higher than the Giulia for a commanding view of the road. The seats are supportive and there is ample room up front, however taller adults may find head and leg room restrictive in the rear. It’s a similar story with boot space, as there is 525 litres of room, which is average compared with other SUVs.
The Stelvio is available with a 2.2-litre JTD diesel engine in two states of tune (180bhp or 210bhp), or a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit also in two guises (200bhp or 280bhp). An 8-Speed automatic transmission is featured as standard across the range along with two-wheel-drive available or Alfa Romeo’s Q4 four-wheel drive system. We drove the Stelvio in Q4 280hp petrol guise, and as you can imagine, it’s a hoot to drive! Acceleration is brisk with 0-100km/h taking a mere 5.7 seconds and the exhaust note is surprisingly raspy on the move.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol isn’t a particularly economical choice, as annual motor tax works out at €570 and the best fuel economy return we could manage was 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres of driving (circa 37mpg). The 2.2-litre JTD diesel engine will ultimately be the go-to-choice here in Ireland, as it offers superior economy. Meanwhile, a scorching-hot Quadrifoglio version of the Stelvio with 503bhp and a 0-100km/h of 3.8 seconds is also arriving soon, and Alfa Romeo claims it is the fastest production SUV ever built! We don’t expect to see many of these on Irish shores though.
The Stelvio is one of the lightest cars in its class and it corners with agility and poise for a large SUV. Refinement is good too, with smooth ride quality and low cabin noise, which is a good thing considering our test car is fitted with large 20-inch alloy wheels. As is the case in the Giulia Saloon, the Stelvio features Alfa Romeo’s DNA system which allows different driving modes including Dynamic (D) that weights the steering and increases throttle response. The Stelvio sits lower to the ground than most conventional SUVs which means it handles much better than most, however it doesn’t offer strong off-roading capabilities. That said, we drove the Stelvio in snowy Irish road conditions during our test and it coped well with the task.
Prices for the Stelvio kick off at €47,295 in base specification, which is on par with rivals like the Jaguar F-Pace. There are four trims to choose from with Stelvio, Super, Speciale and Milanzo Edizione. The base model is well-equipped with a suite of safety aids as standard; including lane departure and forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition. Highlights include ambient interior lighting, an electric tailgate, halogen headlights, a 8.8-inch infotainment screen and a 3.5-inch driver’s TFT display. Our range-topping Milano Edizione test car leaves nothing to be desired, however prices start from over €57,495 for this model.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
It’s easy to see why Alfa Romeo has chosen to release its first ever premium SUV when sales in the segment are rising exponentially. The Stelvio is a superb premium SUV package, with an engaging drive, beautiful styling and punchy performance among its highlights. It isn’t a true off roader in the sense of the word however, and it doesn’t offer the same levels of room and practicality as many of its rivals. In a class that is largely dominated by German offerings from Audi and BMW however, Alfa Romeo must be applauded for creating what is ultimately a fresh and distinctive offering in the Stelvio.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Milano Edizione
Prices from: €47,295
Price as tested: €65,865
Annual Road Tax: €570
Engine: 1995cc turbocharged petrol
Top Speed: 230km/h
0-100km/h: 5.7 seconds
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 525 litres