The Stelvio is good value, has powerful engines and is loads of fun to drive for an SUV – but the interior materials don’t feel as luxurious as in similar cars and the suspension is a bit too firm
If you’re looking for a car that has room for the family and is more fun to drive than any SUV this side of – and even including – a Porsche Macan, then the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is well worth considering.
Okay, that swooping exterior design may look better from some angles than others – it’s essentially an Alfa Romeo Giulia that’s been stretched vertically – but the Stelvio costs a good chunk less than the Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5, and also the similarly sporty Jaguar F-Pace.
Like the Jaguar, the Stelvio’s interior gives you the sensation that you’re in a sports car rather than an SUV, thanks to recessed instrument dials and a three-spoke steering wheel with an engine-start button that’s perfectly placed to show off to your friends. You’ll find some cheap-feeling plastics lower down in the Stelvio’s cabin, however, and controls such as the big infotainment knob don’t feel anything like as sturdy as the ones in the more premium-feeling Audi Q5.
That’s a shame, because so long as you avoid the entry-level Stelvio with its 6.5-inch screen which doesn’t have sat-nav, the Stelvio’s infotainment system is pretty good to use. Super models and above get an 8.8-inch sat-nav screen that’s quick and easy to navigate, but doesn’t have quite the same brightness or sharpness as the Q5’s screen.
The Stelvio is spacious and practical enough, and loads of fun to drive – but just isn’t quite on par with SUVs from Audi and Mercedes
The Stelvio has a comfortable driving position and its height means you get a good view over other traffic. It’s a doddle to drive too – the steering is light and all models get an automatic gearbox that changes gear smoothly. Parking sensors are fitted as standard, and chances are you’ll learn to rely on them because the small rear window really restricts the view out the back.
Space in the rear isn’t bad, though. There’s plenty of room on the back seats for two adults, and the 525-litre boot is big enough for a week away with the family, but both areas are a fraction less spacious than in the Mercedes GLC or Audi Q5, and the Jaguar F-Pace with its massive 650-litre boot is a better choice if you frequently carry huge loads.
That said, the Stelvio trounces those other SUVs when you get to a twisty road. The way it steers and grips in fast corners encourages you to drive it like a sports car rather than an SUV, and in this regard it’s even more fun than the vastly more expensive Porsche Macan. But chances are you’ll not be trying to set lap records on your daily commute, and that’s when the Stelvio’s firm suspension will start to drive you mad – you really do feel every bump in the road through your backside.
If you’re a bit of a speed demon though you’ll like the Stelvio’s range of powerful engines. The best pick is the 180hp 2.0-litre diesel. It’s more than quick enough, and will get around 50mpg in normal driving. Pick the quieter, smoother – but thirstier – 200hp 2.0-litre petrol if you do more town driving, and the crazy-fast V6 Quadrifoglio model if you want an SUV that’ll out-accelerate a Porsche 911 sports car.
But if speed isn’t on your list of priorities then the Stelvio should be lower down on your shopping list than the roomier, comfier and more luxurious Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5. If you’re happy to sacrifice some comfort and practicality, however, you’ll find the Stelvio is a decent SUV that can put a very big smile on your face.
For more detailed analysis of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, read through the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what sort of offers are available on the Stelvio, go to our deals page.