So, here we are again.
Back in February, I brought you all a review of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, a car which heavily made me re-think the cars I’d already driven. Safe to say, the Alfa bug bit me hard. All I cared about for a long time was that car, and I kind of still do. But then, the negative press started to hit. Press cars started breaking down, early models had minor issues, even the top dog Quadrifoglio was suffering. So, the normal Alfa effect pretty much kicked in. I can already smell the, “break down,” jokes while writing it.
But still, I love them, and I want one badly. A customer at work has one, and every time it shows up, I whinny and need a 10 minute bathroom break. The mere thought of it still makes my heart flutter. And now the Stelvio, Alfa’s CUV and third model in their U.S. market return has found its way to the dealers. My local dealership was holding a “launch event” so to speak, and I took the opportunity, and luckily for me, they handed me the keys. So, does the Stelvio continue the track record, or does it fall short?
So, if you remember my original review, I praised the work done on the Giulia full-stop, and how wonderfully well-done it was. At first, I thought the Stelvio would carry the same type of detail when it comes to design, and it does, to an extent.
This is a damn good looking crossover, no doubt, probably tied for the best-looking one in this segment along with the F-Pace. It’s got nice sensual curves and well-rounded details, and a perfect coupe-like aesthetic without going too overboard like an X4 or GLC Coupe. However, it is largely a case of copy and paste, as it’s basically a lifted Giulia hatch that was stretched a little. Not that that’s really a bad thing, but I would have liked to see what Alfa could have done with this car on a clean sheet.
Quality and Ergonomics: 7.5/10
The quality of the Stelvio is much like the Giulia. It’s not the best but it’s certainly not bad, definitely up to par with its rivals in the segment. Everything fits every well and feels solid, and materials aren’t of the highest quality but they’re passable.
In the back there’s a good deal of space to work with 20 feet of cargo capacity in the rear cargo bay. Seats fold down at a push of the button and you do get a power liftgate, all proper things that are typical in the segment now.
Comfort and Technology: 9/10
Once again, it’s very similar to the Giulia in this department. The inside is a very nicely styled cockpit with a very fluid design upon the dash, with that now famous infotainment screen that seemingly blends into the dashboard in such an effortless manner. You do get all the standard guffins like navigation, back-up camera, Bluetooth and so-on, which is all very nice, as well as the fancy AlfaLink suspension setting system.
The good news is that with the Stelvio’s bigger size, comfort is much better, especially for a guy of my size. On the Giulia, there were a few things inside the car that made it a tad uncomfortable at times, but in the Stelvio, those issues seem to be gotten rid of. And for those of you who are worried about safety, the Stelvio received top marks in most areas from Euro NCAP, including an, “Exceptionally well,” rating, close to that of the Volvo XC90.
So, once again, I feel like this might be the most important part of this review, especially considering it wears that hallowed Alfa Romeo badge. Well, the Stelvio rides on the Giulia platform (Giorgio), but with some added ride height. However that does mean you get double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension, with stiffer springs to counter the height difference. Pair this to the turbocharged MultiAir I4 with 276 horsepower, and what you’re given is a pretty nice package overall.
Driving-wise, to say it’s exactly like the Giulia is a bit of an overstatement. You can tell you’re higher up and the springs do feel a tad softer. However, it still feels very confident with what it does, steering is very fluid and everything feels like it works well in tandem with each other. I’ve got to say, it’s the best handling CUV I’ve ever driven, but then again I’ve only driven two others in my lifetime (my Outback and a Murano).
And as we all know, there will be a Quadrifoglio version, due at the first of the year so my dealer contact says, with the same 505 horsepower V6 as the Giulia.
I said in my Giulia review that I wasn’t so sure if I’d call the car a good deal, but the opposite can be said about the Stelvio. It’s amazing how well-equipped even a more cheaper standard model is, like the Q4 here is. It comes with standard AWD as well as the others I mentioned here, plus room for all sorts of extras. And for $44k, this type of performance and luxury is a bargain that I feel is kind of hard to beat. So, I’d have to say, it’s not cheap, but it’s really well-optioned for the price, so I’d give it some decent marks.
The Stelvio is definitely befitting of the phrase, “just a lifted Giulia hatch.” It’s really sort of all there, the good looks, the sporty feeling, all of it. And while it’s not a complete copy, it gets damned close, and I’ve got to say...it’s probably my favorite in the segment. If I would buy an Alfa Romeo tomorrow, the Stelvio would be a serious contender for the one I’d pull the trigger on...it’s the perfect Alfa for an everyday lifestyle, the perfect Italian daily driver. However, time will tell if the reliability stands up to the first impression, but I’d say things are looking good if everything goes right.