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Alfa Romeo impresses with first SUV

“An Alfa Romeo first and an SUV second” – Italian car-maker’s first SUV is impressive. Picture: Alfa Romeo

“An Alfa Romeo first and an SUV second” – Italian car-maker’s first SUV is impressive. Picture: Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

As its first sport utility vehicle, the Stelvio is a hugely important car for Alfa Romeo. Simon Davis finds out if it has what it takes.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an eye-catching SUV. Picture: Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an eye-catching SUV. Picture: Alfa Romeo

What is it?

As Alfa Romeo’s first SUV, the Stelvio represents a venture into uncharted territory for the Italian manufacturer. It may lead to a few raised eyebrows from Alfa purist buy why wouldn’t it work with the SUV segment is one of the fastest-growing in the market.

What’s new?

Sporty look and feel is carried into the interior. Picture: Alfa Romeo Sporty look and feel is carried into the interior. Picture: Alfa Romeo

Practically everything you see on the Stelvio is new. Its Giorgio platform is shared with the excellent Giulia saloon, as are many styling cues.

Alfa claims the Stelvio was designed as “an Alfa Romeo first and an SUV second”, and there are many things that go a long way to back this up.

With Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system, at 1,660kg it’s the lightest in its class – great for handling. And the all-wheel-drive system sends 100pc of drive to the rear wheels most of the time, only powering the front when needed, so Alfa fans will be happy with the shift back to rear-wheel drive.

Boot space stands at 525 litres. Picture: Alfa Romeo Boot space stands at 525 litres. Picture: Alfa Romeo

How does it drive?

Given its size, handling is impressive. It feels light on its feet, with plenty of steering feedback, but is also a comfortable long-distance cruiser.

The 210hp 2.2-litre diesel – there’s also a 180hp version and 200 and 280hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol – was quiet under acceleration and cruising speeds, while the ride was soft enough to deal with the odd imperfection. Although there was a noticeable road noise from the 20in alloys on our test vehicle, it was not irritating.

Looks and image

From certain angles, it’s stunning, from others it looks slightly odd in its proportions. Whatever your thoughts on its aesthetics, you’d be hard-pressed to deny it’s anything but an eye-catching SUV.

Space and comfort

Given the sportier appearance and swooping roofline, cabin space is impressive. Front-seat passengers will have no complaints, those in the rear have plenty of head and legroom, even behind taller passengers.

Boot space stands at 525 litres, which is good but not quite as much as some rivals.

Final say

Alfa Romeo really has done a good job with the Stelvio. The styling may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the way it drives and the levels of practicality are impressive given this is the Italian company’s first attempt at an SUV. Expect to see a fair few on our roads.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Milano Edizione 2.2 Diesel 210hp AWD £43,990 (range from £33,990)

Engine: 2.2-litre, 210hp,four-cylinder turbo diesel developing 470Nm of torque

Performance: 0-62mph: 6.6 seconds; top speed 134mph

MPG: 58.9 combined

CO2 emissions: 127g/km

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