Alfa Romeo’s recent return to the user-chooser sector with the Giulia saloon has been boosted by the launch of the new Stelvio SUV.
The manufacturer’s first model in this sector presented it with a challenge: having an SUV has become essential for sales growth; Alfa Romeo has a long heritage of sports saloons and sportscars. The car needed to be attractive to SUV buyers, but also retain the characteristics – particularly styling and the driving experience – that make Alfas appealing.
The competence of the Giulia saloon – a realistic alternative to a BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Jaguar XE – bodes well for the Stelvio, and signifies that the next few years could see a long-awaited resurgence of the Alfa Romeo brand in the corporate sector.
Customers will be able to choose from a rear-wheel drive 180PS 2.2-litre diesel, and Q4 all-wheel drive models including a 210PS version of the diesel, and 200PS and 280PS 2.0-litre petrol variants.
We tried both the 210PS diesel and the 280PS petrol, and the figures for both look promising. The most powerful diesel variant, equipped with all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission, has CO2 emissions of 127g/km and fuel consumption of 58.9mpg on the combined cycle.
These are an improvement over what’s currently offered by the Jaguar F-Pace, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. We expect the 180PS diesel to match or better these figures when data is released. The 280PS petrol version achieves 161g/km and 47.9mpg on the combined cycle.
The carmaker said the Stelvio was about creating an SUV that still drives like an Alfa Romeo. The steering is direct, while the all-wheel drive system has a rear bias, with up to 50% of torque being sent to the front wheels when required.
It felt exceptionally responsive on the twisty Alpine roads of our test route, easily dispatching repeated hairpin bends with barely half a lock of steering and an impressive lack of body roll, while the eight-speed automatic transmission and flat torque curve of the 2.2-litre diesel (more than 345Nm of torque is available between 1500 and 3000rpm) ensured it almost catapulted along the next straight stretch.
The entry-level Stelvio will have a 6.5-inch dashboard screen, DNA drive mode system, a central TFT info screen between the speedometer and rev counter, and start button on the steering wheel. Alloys are 17-inch on this model, with fabric seats. Safety systems include lane departure warning, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Higher versions come with xenon headlights, larger wheels, part-leather or leather seats, and other features. There are two main option packs – luxury and sport. The Stelvio also comes with business specific grades (tailored to different markets), to appeal to company car choosers.