Regardless of the name, very few manufacturers put the ‘game’ in their sport utility vehicles or SUVs. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio seems to buck that trend by indicating buyers will get something every bit as much fun as the lively Giulia saloon where it is based. Should Porsche be quaking in its boots?
The spec sheet sounds excellent, with the guarantee of lightweight, decent balance and powerful engines. There is also plenty of space for passengers and a boot capability that is in line with competitors like the Porsche Macan and BMW X3.
All versions get an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, with just the entry diesel getting the choice of the rear-wheel drive — all other motors come exclusively with four-wheel drive. CO2 emissions are aggressive, making the Stelvio worth considering for business car buyers.
Read on for our comprehensive review and for our opinions on how it drives, what it is like inside and how much it is going to cost to run.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate functionality
UK buyers have the option of a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with 276bhp or 2.2-liter petrol with 207bhp. The diesel unit is responsive from low revs and pulls strongly through the whole rev range, whisking you up to motorway speeds without difficulty. Nevertheless, it can not match the punch of a Porsche Macan Diesel S or Audi Q5 3.0 TDI.
The gas engine feels stronger but requires working quite a little more difficult to show its muscle. It is a shame, and then, it does not like to be revved hard, always preferring to change up at less than 6000rpm. It is excellent for cruising but not too sporty.
These motors will be joined in time with a pair of entry motors — 2.0-liter petrol with 197bhp plus 2.2-liter petrol with 178bhp. At the opposite end of the scale, there’ll be a 503bhp Quadrifoglio version with a turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 in case you do need a sporty SUV.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate ride
With so much discussion of the Stelvio being designed to out-handle the resistance, it should not be a pleasant surprise to discover that it is a slightly firm ride. Even though it never bangs, crashes or gets overly upset by rough surfaces, you may feel lumps, bumps, and potholes by your seat. This is most noticeable at low rates.
At higher speeds, but the sports-oriented suspension set comes into its own, dealing with crests and compressions with fluency and finesse that’s typically reserved for the best sports saloons. Moreover, unlike softer rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5, roll and pitch are well controlled, so abrupt direction changes have less of an effect on passengers.
As always, we would suggest sticking to smaller wheels if you are searching for the best ride, although from our experience with the Giulia, we guess that fitting optional elastic dampers will have a much more significant effect on passenger comfort (we have yet to test this system on the Stelvio).
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate management
This is where the Stelvio shines; it seems a lot more car-like from the bends than many rivals. Like the Giulia upon which it is based, the steering is remarkably direct — you need to turn the wheel very little to negotiate tight corners. However, it is not too light, which makes it effortless to put the car’s nose where you want it. Combine this with stiff suspension, and you have got an SUV that goes round corners with much more excitement than many saloon cars.
Even so, the Stelvio feels secure and safe if you do push too hard. Unlike milder competitions, it never pushes in corners or runs out of body management on undulating country roads. Because of this, it is possible to lean on the Stelvio in quicker bends, trusting it is never going to step out of line or behave untowardly. How the stability control system rarely cuts reinforces this belief of all-weather grip and dependability.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate refinement
The Stelvio’s engines might be quite powerful, but they are not unusually quiet. Even the 2.0-liter gas sounds surprisingly coarse even when pootling along and also it fails to seem sporty. Regarding the 2.2-liter diesel, you are always conscious of the gritty dirge which blights cars fuelled in the black pump — an Audi Q5 2.0 TDI is much more refined.
We also noticed a fair amount of wind noise in the doorway mirrors when traveling at motorway speeds on some test cars.
At least the eight-speed automatic gearbox impresses with smooth changes even in stop-start traffic.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate driving position
Up to now, we have only attempted Stelvios fitted with electrically adjustable seats. These proved easy to adjust to suit both tall and short drivers and had adjustable lumbar support, also. Likewise, the steering wheel has lots of adjustment for both rake and reach. The gearlever falls quickly to hand, and there is the choice of aluminum shift paddles behind the steering wheel which both look and feel good. It is only a shame that the steering wheel does feel a little cheap compared with some competitions.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate visibility
While the view over the heavily sculpted bonnet is an attractive one, we did locate that the windscreen pillars to be rather thick. This may cause problems when pulling out of junctions. Likewise, there are thick rear pillars and a small rear window which can make Placing tricky. Parking sensors are standard, but you may wish to consider the optional reversing camera.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate infotainment
All Stelvios get a color infotainment display controlled by a rotary dial mounted between the front seats. We have not attempted the central 6.5in system, but the discretionary 8.8in unit is relatively simple to navigate and contains sat-nav that’s simple enough to follow. We did discover that the display is extensive and not too tall, making some text somewhat trickier to read. Additionally, it looks a bit dated compared with Audi’s MMI and BMW’s iDrive systems.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate build quality
Alfa makes a big deal about its use of actual metal, leather and wood at the Stelvio’s interior. Even though these trims are appealing, there are too many hard, scratchy surfaces to provide a premium feel. Yes, there’s loads of soft-touch vinyl around, but more economical materials are available all too easily in areas that you touch and watch frequently. Likewise, lots of the buttons and dials do not feel quite as strong as you would see in an Audi Q5 or Porsche Macan.
Space & practicality
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate entrance room
The Stelvio might be classed as a midsize SUV, but that still makes it a reasonably primary vehicle. Up front, there is tons of headroom for taller drivers and the chair goes back far enough to the majority of legs. Additionally, it is wide enough to make sure you will not be rubbing elbows with your passenger.
You will also find a decent quantity of storage up front, with door pockets which can hold a bottle of water and other various items, storage in the front of this gear lever including a couple of cup holders and much space below the center armrest. We wish there were a pair of USB sockets in the glovebox.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate backspace
A six-foot passenger may have the ability to fit behind a driver of similar height, but their knees will be quite near the back of the front seats. Likewise, the curved roofline does eat into rear head area. For people of average height should be able to get comfortable, while children will not have any problem in any way. The back door pockets are smaller, but you can still get a small bottle of water in there. You also get a pair of cupholders in the rear armrest and a couple of USB sockets between the front seats.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate seat flexibility
Unlike many SUVs nowadays, you will not find back seats that recline or slip backward and forward. They do split 40/20/40 and have handled from the boot to fold them. Once down, there is no measure up to them in the boot floor, just a very slight incline.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate boot space
In 525 liters, the Stelvio trumps the Porsche Macan but cannot quite match the BMW X3. The load area is a usefully square shape with no internal load lip; it is only a shame there are not more hooks for bags or eyelets to hold downloads. The conventional electric tailgate is handy, however.
Cost & verdict
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate running costs
Rather impressively, the strongest four-wheel-drive diesel Stelvio produces less carbon dioxide than an equal Audi Q5; the Alfa manages only 127g/km and has an official figure of 58.8mpg. With that in mind, we expect great things from the powerful diesel, particularly when fitted with rear-wheel drive. It is another story for the gas version; this emits over the Q5 but remains fairly reasonable given the functionality on offer.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate gear
Entry-level Stelvio models still get tons of kit, such as 17in alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, a 6.5in infotainment system, automatic braking with pedestrian detection, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, electric tailgate and automatic lights and wipers. Supermodels get part-leather chairs, a range of interior color options, 18in wheels as well as the choice of Luxury or Sports packs.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate reliability
We do not yet know how reliable the Stelvio is because it is so new, nor do we have some current statistics for Alfa Romeo as a brand. What we can say is that sister manufacturer Fiat scored in the top half of the table in our final reliability survey. While the length of the guarantee is a reasonably standard three decades, it is worth noting that there are no mileage restrictions.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio estate security and security
The Stelvio scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test, beating the likes of the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC for adult protection. It is behind those two competitions for the kid and pedestrian protection, even though it narrowly defeats the Q5 for security assist systems (such as emergency braking and lane departure warnings).
Not only is it great in a crash, but there is also regular automatic braking with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning.