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 on the firm side
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What's not so good
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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 it’s definitely got more personality than an Audi Q5 or BMW X3.
Like the similarly-priced Jaguar F-Pace, 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. General cabin quality has also been improved for 2021, too, with a few less cheap-feeling plastics. However, despite the mild update the cabin still doesn’t feel quite as plush or as well-screwed-together as a BMW X3’s or an Audi Q5’s.
At least the latest infotainment upgrade is superior to earlier versions of the Stelvio. The screen is still 8.8in in size and isn’t as bright as you might expect, but the menus are now clearer and more customisable, and it now responds to touch too. Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, while a neat new wireless smartphone charging pad has been squeezed under the centre armrest.
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 the standard fit rear-view camera and full parking sensors definitely comes in handy.
Space in the back isn’t too bad either. There’s plenty of room for two adults to get comfy, 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.
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. The Jaguar F-Pace comes close, but it’s the more expensive Porsche Macan that gives the Stelvio a proper run for its money. 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 lowered sports suspension that’s fitted to Veloce models is quite firm over most roads and becomes a touch bouncy on really poor surfaces.
As for engines, your best pick is the 190hp 2.2-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. It can be a tad clattery when it’s cold outside, which makes the smoother and quieter petrols a better bet if you drive mostly in town. Just know that they are a fair bit thirstier, though. There’s also a 510hp performance model that is utterly bonkers – called the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
That said, you don’t need to go for the most powerful model to enjoy driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. 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.
Active cruise control comes as standard across the range, but if you want driver aids such as lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and traffic sign recognition you’ll have to go for the range-topping Veloce Ti model. Alternatively, you can pay £1000 for the optional Driver Assistance Pack.
If this stylish Italian SUV sounds like it’s the car for you, head on over to our Alfa Romeo Stelvio deals page to see how much you can save through carwow.
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 leg room 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 Veloce models come with 6-way 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.
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 being fun in the twisties
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 as of 2021 all are four-wheel drive.
Pick the 200hp 2.0-litre petrol model if you spend most time in town. It’s smoother than the larger 190hp 2.2-litre diesel and quieter at low speeds, too. Alfa Romeo claims it’ll return 34mpg but expect to see less than that 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 just under six seconds. That’s near enough hot-hatch quick from a high-riding practical SUV. It’s not the most remarkable engine around but it’s smooth, effective and sounds half-decent for a four-cylinder.
If it’s remarkable engines you want, however, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s epic 510hp 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 is definitely the one to go for. It makes a great noise and delivers enough punch to keep up with the best German super-SUVs.
One of the 2.2-litre diesel models will be a better bet if you cover lots of motorway miles. The 190hp version is quick enough for overtaking slower traffic, and the 210hp model is downright fast when you put your foot down. Both can be a bit clunky and rough on start up, but they’re refined enough once they’ve been properly warmed up. Alfa Romeo claims that both can manage just under 50mpg, but you should expect to see a bit less than that in the real world.
All models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox to help make long journeys and heavy traffic as stress-free as possible. You 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 as far off road as a purpose-built 4×4.
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 all-round parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard across the range.
The Stelvio’s suspension is on the firmer side, meaning 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 less refined 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 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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