Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV
"The Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV blends good looks, a great drive and real quality at a competitive price"
- Fantastic design
- Great to drive
- Frugal diesel
- Not as practical as rivals
- No manual gearbox
- Reliability concerns
The medium-sized premium SUV class is busier than ever, with the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC, Jaguar F-Pace, Volvo XC60 and Porsche Macan all fighting to come out on top. As it makes a push upmarket, Alfa Romeo joined in with its take on the formula: the Stelvio.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a great car to look at; it takes all the best bits of the Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon and adapts them to suit the tastes of SUV buyers. It’s a sporty, muscular design that’s on a par with the Porsche Macan, or even the Maserati Levante from the class above. If you want your family car to turn heads, you can’t do much better than the Stelvio.
Good design and quality materials are spread throughout the Stelvio’s impressive interior. It might fall short of the Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan in terms of build quality, but it’s still a lovely place to sit. This was maintained with a significant package of upgrades at the end of 2019 that included improved cabin materials and an updated infotainment system.
There’s the high driving position you’d expect from an SUV, as well as plenty of space for five people. Standard equipment is generous, but it’s worth noting that leather is only available on top-spec models and isn't standard like on some rivals.
Engines include a 2.2-litre diesel with 187bhp or 207bhp, or a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol with 197bhp or 276bhp – both of which are shared with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and provide a good blend of performance and fuel economy. Four-wheel drive – Q4 in Alfa Romeo speak – is standard on nearly all models, while an eight-speed automatic gearbox that can be manipulated by sporty steering-wheel paddles is the only transmission offered, with no manual option.
Post-facelift Stelvios are available in four trim levels: the entry-level Super, Sprint, Lusso Ti and Veloce, plus the muscular, range-topping Quadrifoglio, which is practically a separate model. This high-performance version takes on the Porsche Macan Turbo in performance terms, and shares the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s Ferrari-developed twin-turbo V6 engine. It produces 503bhp and gets the Stelvio from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. Better still is that it's an SUV that's not only fast in a straight line, but also one that handles beautifully.
Even in standard form, the Stelvio is great to drive. For a tall, relatively bulky SUV, it’s remarkably manoeuvrable and light on its feet, with responsive steering and barely a trace of body lean – the Stelvio is the lightest car in its class and it certainly feels it. Big tyres mean there’s loads of grip in corners and if the going gets slippery, the Q4 system can send power to the front wheels to help. Despite its sporty character, the Stelvio still proves comfortable when all you want is to cover big distances.
According to our 2020 Driver Power survey, Alfa Romeo owners are a very satisfied bunch – the brand finished ninth overall, out of 30 brands surveyed (even with concerning reliability feedback). Owners can also find reassurance in Alfa's five-year/75,000-mile warranty.
In Euro NCAP crash testing, the Stelvio achieved the full five stars, with a "near-perfect" 97% score for adult occupant protection. It carries all the latest must-have safety features, including autonomous emergency braking.
Overall, the Stelvio makes an exciting addition to the massed ranks of premium compact SUVs out there. It's close to the default German choices for quality and efficiency and treats buyers to a dose of Italian passion, too.