Alfa Romeo Stelvio review
The Alfa Romeo 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
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Okay, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s swooping exterior design may look better from some angles than others – it’s essentially an Alfa Romeo Giulia that’s been stretched vertically – but then it 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 dials and plenty of silver trim accents. Unfortunately, you’ll find some cheap-feeling plastics in the Stelvio’s cabin that you wouldn’t find in a BMW X3, and the buttons you press don’t feel anything like as sturdy as the ones in the more premium-feeling Audi Q5.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is behind the Audi Q5 when it comes to infotainment, too. All models get an 8.8-inch system that comes with sat-nav and smartphone screen mirroring but it can’t match the Audi system on speed and ease of use and also doesn’t have graphics that are as crisp and colourful.
You sit closer to the road than in many alternatives, giving you a better feel of the car. That said, you can still jack the seat up quite a fair bit for a commanding view. Sitting lower doesn’t mean overall visibility in the Stelvio is bad, but you still need the assistance of the standard-fit rear parking sensors when reversing into a parking space.
Space in the back isn’t bad either. There’s room for two adults in the back of the Stelvio which is similar to what alternatives can do and kids will find it massive back there. The 525-litre boot is big enough for a week away with the family, but it’s not the biggest in class. The Jaguar F-Pace beats it with a 650-litre boot that’s about 20% bigger making it the more practical choice.
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
That said, there are few alternatives that can challenge the Alfa Romeo Stelvio for its enjoyable driving experience and only one comes close – the more expensive Porsche Macan. In the right spec, a Stelvio steers and grips almost like a sports car which is sure to put a smile on your face if you enjoy driving. There is a drawback – the suspension is firm over most roads and becomes quite bouncy on really poor surfaces.
As for engines, your best pick is the 2.0-litre diesel. It has more than enough oomph for quick overtakes and it’s possible to get around 50mpg out of it in normal driving. The diesel, however, can be a tad clattery when cold making the smoother and quieter petrol a better bet if you drive mostly in town – it is considerably thirstier than the diesel, though. There’s also a 510hp performance model that is utterly bonkers – called the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
You don’t need to go for the most powerful model to enjoy driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and if you’re willing to sacrifice some comfort and practicality, you’ll find the Stelvio to be an SUV that can put a very big smile on your face. However, to some, the roomier, comfier and more luxurious Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5 will still remain the go-to choice.
The Stelvio is less expensive than the GLC and Q5 so have a look at our Alfa Romeo Stelvio deals to see if you can fit a few extra choice options while still keeping within budget.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio has loads of room in the front seats, but you don’t have to look far to find alternatives that are better for passengers in the rear seats or have bigger boots
Somehow, it doesn't seem all that surprising that an Alfa Romeo SUV focuses on its driver rather than its passengers or their luggage
There’s loads of head and legroom in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s front seats so it’s easy to get comfortable if you’re more than six-feet tall. Mid-range Speciale models come with electrically adjustable front seats with lumbar support as standard, which will help reduce back ache on long journeys.
Space in the back is okay for tall adults, although headroom and legroom are a little tighter than in the Audi Q5. Try to carry three abreast and things get a lot cosier. There’s a large lump in the rear floor that cuts into the available foot space and the centre seat is both smaller and harder than the outer two – if you regularly carry three people abreast then a Mercedes GLC is a roomier choice.
The Stelvio’s rear doors open fairly wide to help make fitting a child seat reasonably easy. The Isofix anchor points are clearly marked too, and are covered with flip-up covers rather than easy-to-lose removable caps.
There’s enough room in each of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s door bins to hold a couple of bottles of water, and the cubby under the front centre armrest is fairly roomy too. You can’t quite hide away as many items in the glovebox as you can in a Mercedes GLC, however, and the Stelvio’s front cupholders are concealed under a folding storage tray in front of the gear lever.
The rear door bins are reasonably large and you get a pair of cupholders in the folding central armrest. There are also a couple of handy USB ports behind the front seats to keep your passengers’ phones charged.
You can squeeze 525 litres of luggage in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s boot with all its seats in place. That’s a fairly insignificant 25 litres less than the Q5, GLC and X3 but a considerable 125 litres less than the commodious Jaguar F-Pace. All models come with an electrically powered boot lid as standard, though.
The boot’s large, square shape and wide opening makes it a breeze to load plenty of suitcases or boxes and there’s no boot lip to lift heavy items over. There’s a set of tether points to tie down luggage and some handy shopping hooks to hold your groceries securely in place.
The rear seats fold down via a boot mounted lever – they need a push to help them on their way – in a useful three-way (40:20:40) split, which means you can carry long sports equipment poking through from the boot and two rear passengers at once. With all the Stelvio’s back seats flipped down there’s plenty of space to carry a bike with its wheels attached but nowhere to store the load cover – unlike in a Mercedes GLC. It might not be quite as practical as more boxy German SUVs, but the Stelvio’s by far the most practical Alfa Romeo on sale.
The Stelvio’s one of the best handling SUVs out there but it has sacrificed a degree of comfort in return for outright grippiness
Don’t go thinking the Stelvio’s going to be particularly at home in the dirt. Thankfully, it is brilliant on the road and huge fun to drive around corners like those on the Stelvio pass…
You can get the Alfa Romeo Stelvio with three petrol and two diesel engines and with either two or four-wheel drive.
Pick the 200hp 2.0-litre petrol model if you spend most time in town. It’s smoother than the larger 180hp 2.2-litre diesel and quieter at slow speeds, too. Alfa Romeo claims it’ll return 40.4mpg but expect to see around 30mpg in normal driving.
The 280hp petrol manages to return almost identical fuel economy to the smaller 200hp version yet can sprint from 0-62mph in a little over seven seconds. That’s hot-hatch quick from a high-riding practical SUV, but still some way off the range-topping petrol Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s 505hp 2.9-litre V6 3.9-second figure.
One of the 2.2-litre diesel models will be a better bet if you cover lots of motorway miles. The 180hp version is quick enough for overtaking slower traffic, and the 210hp model is downright fast when you put your foot down. Both versions will return around 50mpg in the real world compared to Alfa Romeo’s claimed 58.9mpg.
All models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox to help make long journeys and heavy traffic as stress-free as possible. You can also get four-wheel drive across the range that’ll be handy if you live somewhere prone to snowy winters, but don’t expect it to take you far off road.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s raised seating position gives you a decent view out over the road ahead, but the thick pillars – where the doors meet the roof – produce some large blindspots at junctions. The small rear windscreen makes reverse parking difficult too, but you do get rear parking sensors as standard across the range. Top-spec versions come with a reversing camera too.
The Stelvio’s firm suspension means it isn’t nearly as comfortable as an Audi Q5 or Mercedes GLC but it beats the Jaguar F-Pace for outright driving fun and may even be better to drive than the Porsche Macan. The Alfa will carve through tight corners with confidence and feels more like a saloon than a tall off-roader.
Models with large alloy wheels fidget slightly over rough roads – especially at slow speeds – but they soon settle down into a fairly comfortable cruise on the motorway. High-spec Stelvios come with the option of adaptive suspension that’ll let you choose between relaxing or sporty handling. It’s better than the standard setup but still not as comfy as the Audi Q5’s system.
Unfortunately, the Stelvio isn’t as quiet as the German SUVs either. You’ll hear plenty of wind noise coming from the door mirrors and its four-cylinder engines make a higher-pitched noise than the smooth-sounding six-cylinder units offered by Audi and BMW.
You don’t get any particularly fancy off-road driving modes like you get in a Land Rover Discovery Sport either. Instead, you’ll have to rely on its standard hill-descent control and raised ground clearance to keep you out of trouble if you wander off the beaten track, but you’re best off keeping your Stelvio on the road.
The Stelvio scored an impressive five-star safety rating in the strict 2017 Euro NCAP crash tests making it one of the safest SUVs currently on sale. All models come with automatic emergency braking, which will stop the car for you if it detects an obstacle in the road ahead – perfect for a little extra peace of mind.
The Stelvio’s cabin looks great with plenty of sporty touches and it generally feels good, however there are some cheap-feeling bits and it’s missing some high-tech features
Alfa Romeo Stelvio colours
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