We first drove the Stelvio back in 2017 & came away very impressed. Alfa had managed to make a boring SUV more exciting to drive & great to look at, but there were some issues with the interior build quality, infotainment system & on board tech. So, in 2020, the Stelvio received a mild revamp, both visually & more importantly inside & the latest version in Sprint guise made its way to our offices recently.
Trim & engines
The model range comprises of Sprint, Veloce, Veloce Ti & a Quadrifoglio version. All-wheel drive & an eight-speed automatic gearbox are standard on all UK models.
Engine choice comes in the form of a 2.0-litre turbo petrol & a 2.2-litre diesel, each offered in a choice of two power outputs. Sprint is offered with either a 200bhp petrol , or a 190bhp diesel engine. The Veloce benefits from a higher-powered 280bhp petrol, or 210bhp diesel, whilst Veloce TI just gets the petrol 280bhp engine. Range-topper Quadrofoglio is powered by the brilliant 510bhp V6 Bi-Turbo Engine.
From the outside the changes are minor, with new styling elements around the tail & along the flanks. It was always a great looking car so why change too much.
Inside, the build quality has improved & you’d be hard pressed to find fault with any of the plastic finishes inside, even on entry level Sprint. The dials are beautiful & the steering wheel’s leather finish is lovely to the touch. Alfa have also added an Italian flag motif at the base of the gear shifter with adds a touch of class.
The Stelvio also contains a lot more autonomous technology than before. You now get speed-sensing cruise control, active brake assist & an advanced lane safety system & it’s now competing with the best in class.
Every Stelvio comes with a 7″ digital display between the analogue instrument dials, allowing the driver to configure the display to show SatNav, driving performance or fuel economy. And there’s a more user-friendly 8.8″ colour infotainment screen, that can be controlled by the rotary dial, or you can physically touch ‘widget-like’ buttons on the screen. It’s not as sharp to look at as German rivals offerings, nor as large to view. The good news, is that it offers Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which are included as standard, as is wireless phone charging. Alfa also provides a smartphone app that allows you to remotely operate features such as the central locking & you can even access features through a smart speaker at home, using a smart assistant such as Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa.
Our entry level Sprint model featured 19″ dark 5-hole alloy wheels, Active Cruise Control, ambient front & rear LED lighting, bi-xenon headlights, dark finish ‘Stelvio’ badge, aluminium sports pedals, a dual exhaust, Lane Departure Warning & leather sports seats, steering wheel & gear stick. Front & rear parking sensors & a reversing camera are standard on all trims.
Space for both front seat passengers is generous & in the rear, there’s both excellent head & legroom. The centre most seat will take an adult, although they will sit a little higher than the passengers on either side.
Inside the cabin, there’s an assortment of cubbyholes for stowing your odds & ends, including space underneath the centre armrest. The door pockets both front & rear are a useful size, with room for drinks in all of these. There’s five USB connections including one in the dashboard & two, plus a 12v socket, located under the centre armrest. There’s also two USB’s in the rear, a bonus for longer journeys undertaken with adults or teens.
At 525 litres, Stelvio has a slightly smaller boot than its closest rivals, but there’s no lip to overcome when loading or unloading. The boot floor is flat & the space on offer is almost uniformly square shaped, ensuring that more awkward items will fit in easily. If you fold the rear seats down, the space increases to 1,600 litres, large enough for a mountain bike & a visit to IKEA.
Performance & fuel economy
We were testing the 190bhp diesel powered Stelvio. Top speed is 130 mph & you’ll hit 62mph from standing start in 7.6 seconds. Combined fuel economy is 44.1 mpg with CO2 emissions of 169g/km.
We tested the 2.2 turbo diesel 190bhp Q4 Sprint, which comes with decent performance & excellent handling for an SUV. This fun is partly due to the overall weight of the Stelvio topping off at just 1660kg, which is in most cases 120kg lighter than it’s competition, with the other noticeable benefit being the handling which is undoubtedly best in class. This large SUV feels light & agile & handles almost as well as the lower-slung Giulia, one of our favourite cars to drive.
On the motorway, the Giulia’s a comfortable cruiser. All models feature Active Cruise Control, so when we were on the motorway, we settled into Efficiency mode whilst selecting Active Cruise, sat back & relaxed.
Alfa’s DNA is on offer, which allows you to adjust the Stelvio’s driving experience. For good motorway driving & better fuel economy, select Advanced Efficiency. For day to day progress Natural & for a bit more fun, Dynamic, which increased throttle response as well as the broad grin permanently fixed my face. Our test car was fitted with the Q4 all-wheel drive system, which can send up to 50 per cent of torque to the front wheels – yet engineers say it’ll never need to on dry surfaces. In reality, you can’t seriously off-road in the Stelvio, it’s best suited to tarmac, where it never fails to satisfy.
A week in the Stelvio saw us average a pleasing 38.1 mpg, which makes us believe that if you drive carefully & in Efficiency mode, 45mpg is achievable.
Compared to almost all other similarly priced SUV’s the Stelvio is much more fun to drive. It’s also a great looking car. The addition of new safety tech, a better infotainment package & a much improved interior over the launch model, put’s it on an even footing with it’s closest competitors.
Retail customer’s won’t find much wrong with either the entry level petrol or diesel engines. However, the current company car taxation rates which heavily favour EV’s & PHEV’s, means that if you really want a Stelvio as your company car of choice, you will be forced to pay in excess of 35% BIK. The sensible option is to opt out of your company car scheme & lease one yourself.
Competition is fierce in the sector that Stelvio is competing in. It scores highest against the opposition in both it’s looks & it’s drive ability, whilst it’s improved fit, finish & tech make it more compatible when put up against the German dominated opposition. Despite the updates, it’s t’s not as nice as the inside of an X3 or a Q5 but it’s closer than you’d think.
Where the Stelvio scores highest though, is with it’s looks, it’s gorgeous & you really can’t say that about the BMW X3 or the Audi Q5. Never have I smiled so much & so often driving an SUV. With a PHEV version now shoe-horned into sister brand Jeep’s Renegade, will Alfa add this to the Stelvio to make it the perfect company car SUV ?
Giro D’Italia 4/5