Alfa Romeo’s first attempt in the SUV segment is named after Italy’s Stelvio mountain pass which boasts more than 48 hairpin bends in succession.
Aimed at the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Jaguar F-Pace in the medium-sized premium SUV segment; the Stelvio will face tough competition. After driving it for a week, I think it will hold its own. Outside, the Stelvio possesses sporty appeal that should lure first-time SUV buyers looking for character.
You get a similar design to the Giulia with the legendary Cloverleaf front, the rear boasts dual sports exhaust tips and buyers can choose from 11 separate body colours.
It has space for five people with remarkable head and legroom plus boot space of 525 litres.
Interior standards are high: good quality materials, simple and functional, yet stylish, with the design mostly borrowed from the Giulia. It also shares a modified platform with the Giulia sedan.
The Stelvio has a four-cylinder two-litre turbo-petrol engine which renders 206 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque, all paired smoothly with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission driving a carbon drive shaft and Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel drive system.
The Q4 system sends torque to the rear axle and it will distribute up to 50% of the drive to the front wheels if it senses there is a need for greater traction there. Activated by a rotary switch, there are three driving modes, named Natural, DNA and Dynamic, to suit all your needs.
On the road, the Stelvio feels relaxed although it is never happy to be driven hard; it delivers good performance in spades.
With most of the driving done in Natural mode, the steering is direct and it requires little effort to direct the SUV where you want it to go.
The transmission is impressive with smooth gear changes, even in stop-start situations. Alfa claims a 0-100 km/h time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h, which should match anything its market segment competitors can offer. Fuel economy was not the Stelvio’s strongest suit during the test, with the usage figure averaging 9.0l/100km in the city.
The numbers would drop below 7l/100 km at highway cruising speeds as normally happens with every car I test.
Safety in the Stelvio includes IBS, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Path Detection and Active Cruise Control. Alfa had to get everything right for their first SUV and they certainly are trying hard.
If you are in the market for a medium-sized premium SUV that looks different yet with a sporty lure, pay them a visit.
Pricing starts from R810 000 for the Super and the First Edition is priced at R946 000.
All Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s feature a 3 year / 100,000 km Warranty and a 6 year / 100,000km Maintenance plan as standard.