Test Drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce: still attractive!

The Stelvio SUV is based on the excellent « Giorgio » all-wheel drive platform (shared with the Giulia), endowing it with a dynamic on-road behaviour . It oozes charm and is just perfect if you want to stand out and away from the usual default choice… a German premium SUV. The Veloce version is  very similar to the tof of the range Quadifoglio, but makes do with a 280 bhp petrol engine (Text: Dimitri URBAIN, Photos: Paul-Edouard URBAIN)

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The Stelvio was launched back in 2016 and got a few cosmetic tweaks 3 years later. The ‘scudetto’, the central Alfa grille, is one of its main distinctive features.

I like it

Even though the Stelvio was launched back in 2016, its shape ages gracefully and is still attractive. The 2019 restyling focused mainly on details and all the better for it! The turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine produces 280bhp and 400Nm. More than enough to move it about swiftly and it is backed by a nice and effective 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Ergonomics, materials as well as fit and finish are on par with its German rivals now. The aluminium gearbox paddles are reminiscent of a Ferrari’s and we like it!

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Alfa always uses historical references on its modern cars. « Veloce » and « TI » refer to the glorious sporting past of the 60s and 70s GTAs, while the wheel design is reminiscent of the 156 GTA and 8C.

Quite clever

As we said, on the outside the Veloce version is almost identical to the Quadrifoglio. It offers 21″ wheels in the traditional Alfa « phone dial » design with sporty tyres, a hands-free tailgate, big exhaust tips at the back and carbon touches all over it. Various aluminium body panels and suspension parts help to keep the weight down, as does the use of carbon fibre for the driveshaft. It tips the scale at 1,660 kg, bettering its German competitors  (the Q3 and X3), which are closer to 2 tonnes with similar power levels.

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Twin round dials, a flat-bottomed steering wheel or… the Ferrari-style paddles all contribute to the driving pleasure. Fit and finish as well as materials quality are now on par with the German premium brands.

The DNA button allows you to modify the engine mapping, the reactivity of the gearbox and the stability control. Our tester lacked the pilot-controlled suspension, but we appreciated the excellent compromise. The Stelvio was comfortable and always well sorted on all types of road surfaces. The Stelvio is quite agile, even on winding roads. The steering is precise and direct, bringing real driving pleasure.

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The electric front seats combine leather and alcantara and also feature a movable middle part relieving knee pain on long journeys. They are comfortable and welcoming, even in hot weather.

I don’t like it

The central touchscreen could be bigger… however, it’s easy to use and changing menus is quite intuitive. Rear seat space is limited, especially considering the size of the car. Moreover, the seat is quite low and the side windows being rather high, claustrophobia could come quickly in the back.

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With 21″ wheels shod with Pirelli P0 tyres, our test car was very close to the Quadrifoglio. The massive twin exhaust tailpipes do not deceive, it is indeed a sporty SUV!

Why I buy it

Because it’s an Alfa! In the 80’s, the brand’s advertising claimed that « some cars still have soul »… It is indeed still the case here. Its dynamic on-road behaviour inspires confidence, the steering is precise and pleasant to use while the body-hugging supportive seats turn it into a brilliant mile-munching machine that’s ideal on long trips. The Stelvio is not a common sight on the streets and this makes it even more exclusive. We like the fact that it’s different and elegant.

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The Stelvio side profile is pleasing to the eye, sitting firmly on its 21″ wheels that fill the arches. Access to the car is easy but space in the back could be bigger.

Why I don’t buy it

Prices starts from € 67,800, excluding discounts.. quite a lot of money !  Diesel is losing popularity with buyers, especially business users, petrol engines being now back in favour again. What Alfa needs now is a hybrid Stelvio. It would allow the brand a better chance to regain sales volume on the company car market. As well as… lowering its fuel consumption. During our more than 2,000 km test drive, we sticked to speed limits on all types of roads and averaged 10.6l/100 km.

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The 8-speed ZF automatic transmission backs the 280 hp and 400 Nm engine efficiently. The central console is adorned with carbon switches and also houses the infotainment system’s thumbwheel. It is easy to use, as is the touch screen located at the top of the dashboard. It would be even better if the screen was a bit bigger.
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While the Stelvio brings genuine driving pleasure, it also cares for families. The boot is regularly shaped and large enough to accommodate 4 to 5 people’s luggage. What’s more, the folding rear seat will get you a really cavernous boot, just in case your wife decides to raid IKEA!
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Inside, it’s all black… which makes the double glass sunroof a welcome addition! Not only does it open up the space by letting in light when it is closed, but once opened, noise is never intrusive, even at high speed. This €1,700 extra is a must-have to make the Stelvio even more comfortable and pleasing
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Numerous black and carbonfibre touches -as seen here on the central part of the rear bumper- stress even more this Stelvio sporty character.

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