Jeremy Clarkson once said that you can’t be a true petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo, and, while I had never owned (or driven) an Alfa before, it’s hard to disagree with the former Top Gear presenter on this at all. Their flagship – and only – SUV is essentially a supersized Guila that comes with everything you’d expect from the Italian car manufacturer. I had the pleasure of “owning” the Stelvio for the best part of ten days, and took it for a 1,5000-mile test drive up to the Isle of Skye and back.
Cars are ostensibly designed to be driven, albeit with a fair bit of assistance as it’s 2021, and that is where the Stelvio really is outstanding in its field. You’d be very hard pushed to find a better handling SUV on the market. Steering is quick and the Stelvio really grips into the corners when you point the tyres onto an apex. Yes, the ride is slightly firmer than its bigger and smoother German rivals, but I found it refreshing to actually be able to feel the country roads rather than just glide over them.
The trick with the Stelvio is knowing how to use the DNA button that sits on a beautiful centre console. This is the 2-litre turbo petrol version that pushes out a modest 200BHP, but the throttle is very reactive when you put your foot down in Drive mode (D), and the stiffer suspension makes the car feel more sedan-like than pure SUV. On the flip side, as a family car (which the Stelvio can also double up as), Normal Mode (N) will help you chase the best fuel economy. On the return trip to to the deepest parts of Scotland, I managed a very applaudable 32mpg. Not bad when you consider how much fun I had on the Highland roads.
Looks-wise, the Stelvio is unmistakably Alfa, and I love the side profile of this car. It appears to sit lower to the ground and really punch through the air, despite the elevated ride height. Of course, with that sportier silhouette you do compromise slightly on boot capacity, but there was plenty of room for a family of three and luggage. Elsewhere, the optional 19″ Dual-Spoked Diamond Alloys do a great job of keeping both the image, and driving-style, of the Stelvio very sporty.
Inside the car, there is plenty of headroom in the front and visibility is great thanks to the raised ride height. The 8.8” touchscreen does an excellent job of keeping everything at your fingertips (including Apple CarPlay) and I loved the fact that there was the option of both a wireless charging mat and a USB-C if you’re in a hurry. The finish on the seats and the centre console is excellent and there is a real sense of occasion when you sit in this car. Details like the embossed logo on the leather seats again offer you a car that looks a fair bit more expensive than the price tag.
The Stelvio really does put the “sport” back into SUV; it’s a real driver’s car and will most certainly put a smile on your face when you hit the country roads. Prices start at £37,969 for the base model, my test drive was in the £51,165 Lusso TI 2.0 Turbo Petrol in Visconti Green (which came with £4,410 of optional extras).