Reviewed for you: Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Hitting its brief, Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio is an aspirational SUV with unique Italian style and performance credentials. Like the Giulia sedan it shares a platform with, it comes with the choice of four-cylinder petrol or diesel propulsion. There’s also the hot Quadrifoglio which adds a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with hints of Ferrari pedigree.
What’s the price and what do you get?
The Stelvio starts priced at $65,900 plus on-road costs with the least powerful engine, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol. It comes with stylish 19-inch alloy wheels, powered tailgate, electric front seats, tyre pressure monitors and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Whereas many rivals offer fake leather trim in their base vehicles, all Stelvios come with the real cow-derived stuff. There’s also parking sensors at either end, a reversing camera and auto emergency braking.
Those wanting a diesel can get the same specification level with a 154kW 2.2-litre diesel engine for $67,900. Or, if you want more of everything there’s a Stelvio Ti ($78,900), which gets a more powerful version of the base car’s petrol engine (206kW versus 148kW). It also steps up to 20-inch wheels and adopts many of the features from the First Edition pack as standard. Plus, the Ti picks up active cruise control, using a radar to maintain a pre-determined distance to the car in front.
If you’re after more pace then the $149,900 Quadrifoglio, or QV, is for you. As well as bigger brakes and a bespoke suspension setup there’s a Ferrari-inspired 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that lowers the claimed 0-100km/h time to 3.8 seconds. The QV also gets styling tweaks, including vents in the bonnet and a more aggressive lower rear bumper incorporation quad exhausts.
What’s the interior like?
It’s a mix of tradition and technology inside. Tradition with the circular air vents and circular speedo and tachometer. Technology with the pistol grip electronic gear selector and electric park brake.
Despite the infusion of modern thinking, there’s enough old school Alfa, with a clean layout allowing quality materials to shine. With the exception of the textured metal surfaces on the dash and centre console, there are lots of greys and blacks.
There’s a cleanliness to the centre stack layout, the collection of dials and buttons for the ventilation indicative of Alfa playing it safe. That’s understandable, especially as this car is a key piece of the brand’s renaissance and its focus on the US market.
The infotainment screen is beautifully integrated into the dash, butting nicely up against its trapezoidal surrounds, but the display itself is disappointing. That mainly comes down to graphics, with the resolution of the screen low by modern standards, but bright and crisp enough to be easily read.
What’s the passenger space like?
Size-wise, the Stelvio is in the mix with its key rivals, which include the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60. No surprises, then, that interior space is also competitive, although rear legroom is tending towards tight for a five-seater that will invariably carry people in the back.
No issues up front, where the sports seats on our car lived up to their promise of better hugging the occupants. Space in all directions is generous, too. The boot is narrow by SUV standards, but there’s a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, adding to the functionality when it comes time to load long or bulky items.
What’s under the bonnet?
The base 2.0-litre has 148kW on offer, but it peaks relatively low in the rev range, at just 4500rpm. But confine the engine to its middle engine revs and there’s respectable 330Nm of torque at just 1750rpm, enough to shift the 1.6-tonne wagon effortlessly.
Stelvio Ti offers a much more vibrant 206kW and 400Nm, matching the Stelvio’s sleek and sporty look. But if you really want the best – and performance that can match the best rivals – the Quadrifoglio’s adoption of a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 delivers cracking power. It produces 375kW and 600Nm, which is more than many V8s. It’s claimed to launch the Stelvio QV to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 283km/h.
What’s it like on the road?
Even around town, there’s an athleticism to the Stelvio’s manners, something that belies its 1.6-tonne weight. There’s a genuine alacrity to the way it charges into a corner, in part because of the super direct steering, which responds to any twitch.
If anything, that steering is too direct, requiring more moderated inputs on the steering wheel to save darting too far across the corner. It takes a few corner to reprogram yourself.
Not that the car complains; there’s loads of cornering grip and an enjoyable playfulness that gets better the harder you drive it. It’s also beautifully balanced, the nose tucking into the inside of the corner succinctly and the tail diligently following suit.
The independent suspension is firm, but not uncomfortably so. Given the trade-off it gives in dynamics, it’s a fair compromise. However, potholes can catch it out, the big tyres stumbling in with less of the elegance displayed elsewhere in its bump suppression.
What about safety?
The Stelvio is available with a full suite of active safety kit, including autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot warning and lane departure warning. There’s also rear cross-traffic alert.
However, the lane departure system only warns of lane wandering rather than actively steering the vehicle, as many systems do. And there is no 360-degree camera or more advanced crash avoidance extras becoming more common at the top end of the market.
Four-cylinder versions of the Stelvio have been independently crash-tested by NCAP and given a five-star rating. However, that rating doesn’t yet carry over to the V6-powered Quadrifoglio.
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