Stelvio 2.0T Veloce Q4 – exclusivity and expression

Stelvio. If you truly want an exclusive mid-sized luxury SUV, Alfa Romeo arguably does it better than the Germans.

But how can that be? Isn’t Alfa Romeo renowned for reliability issues and a tiny dealer network? Why would you buy an Alfa Romeo mid-sized SUV, over something like Audi’s Q5, BMW’s X3 or the Mercedes-Benz GLC? The answer is powerfully simple: rarity.

As luxury SUV have become more popular, the design differentiation has narrowed. If you want to own a vehicle expressing some sense of individualism, German luxury SUVs no longer offer that. And not for lack of trying, but for realities of their success, selling in such numbers.

When less is more

Alfa Romeo sells so few Stelvio SUVs that they are exclusive by virtue of their rarity. And that sense of value is enhanced by the Italian SUV’s gorgeous design. After years in the local market, Alfa Romeo has enhanced the Stelvio with new front and rear lighting. The cabin ambience also benefits from improved illumination design.

But Stelvio’s overall proportions, stance and design merits remain unchanged. And that’s a good thing because this is unquestionably the most striking and balanced design in its class. For all the Alfa Romeo stereotypes concerning reliability, there are an equal number of anecdotes about the joyous driving experience these cars provide. And the sheer joy they are to behold.

In an automotive world where most SUVs are over styled and guilty of contrived and garish design, Alfa Romeo has endured with its legacy of excellent shapes and beautiful surfaces.

The Stelvio’s dramatic appearance, underscored perfectly by its iconic 20-inch ‘telephone dial’ wheels, is not mere industrial design meets marketing. Stelvio is truly a driver’s SUV, from the driving position, with its recessed dials, anti-clockwise rev-counter and hooded instrumentation binnacle, to the chassis engineering and suspension calibration. Almost paradoxically.

Stelvio is a driver’s car

With uncannily balanced weight distribution for an SUV, quick steering and a potent 2-litre turbopetrol engine, there are few dynamic discrepancies regarding the Stelvio driving experience.

The German-engineered ZF 8-speed automatic transmission pairs intuitively with the 2-litre engine’s peak outputs of 206kW and 400Nm. Overtaking is always assertive and never an anxious experience with a Stelvio.

It’s quick. Capable of 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. And like you’d expect from an Alfa, the Stelvio sacrifices a touch of comfort, for driver engagement. But Alfa Romeo’s legacy customers, would never have it any other way.

What price exclusivity

Issues? The 8.8-inch infotainment screen is a touch undersized in a car at this price. And the limited distribution of dealers means that owning a Stelvio in a remote working town can be a chore, with service intervals having to become weekends away to a larger city. But you won’t mind, ultimately.

Because when an SUV looks this good, drives this well and is this rare, it’s everything its German rivals can never be. And therefore, has an inherent uniqueness and value, which makes the Stelvio 2.0T Veloce Q4’s R1 205 500 price contextually justifiable.

Lance Branquinho


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