Today, it seems you can hardly move for high-end SUVs. Our roads and Waitrose car parks across the land are full of them. But – spoiler alert – not all SUVs are the same.
Consider, for example, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce, the powerful 280 hp Italianate SUV contender you see here. Yes, the Stelvio is something interesting and different in today’s booming premium SUV arena. Big on driver appeal and dynamics (it’s an Alfa, don’t forget) with that distinctive front end and grille that could only be Alfa, the Stelvio is one for the cognoscenti.
And even better, the Stelvio has recently been updated with extra tech, also becoming higher quality and more user-friendly inside.
Scan the latest 2020 model list and you’ll discover this Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (what a fabulous name…) positioned high up as a new performance flagship.
To set the scene, Veloce sits above the Super, Sprint, Lusso Ti variants (but below the fire-breathing 510hp Stelvio Quadrifoglio) in Alfa’s new order of things.
Choose between 2.0-litre 280 hp petrol or 2.2-litre 210 hp diesel engines, both four-cylinder turbocharged. Permanent 4WD is standard issue.
‘My’ Stelvio Veloce in attractive Misano Blue came with Black Sports Leather interior and rode on 20-inch Dark V-spoke alloys. So no, not traditional Alfa red but still an absolute looker in the street and with a £49,755 OTR price tag attached.
Or up for £53,870 with desirable options: electric sunroof, Harman Kardon Audio and Driver Assistance Pack Plus (which includes a suite of key driving safety systems).
Truth be told, the Stelvio has not changed a whole lot mechanically since its 2017 launch. What’s new now, for the latest 2020 model year is the Alfa’s subtly improved cabin with new cockpit layout and higher quality materials.
It’s all in the details. The gearshift lever, for instance, is now leather-covered and so much nicer to use. A new storage bin for charging/storing smartphones appears on the centre console which also sports a neat Italian flag motif and cool carbon-fibre effect.
We get much ‘smarter’ infotainment and sat-nav systems now, accessed via a reworked 8.8-inch touchscreen central display (or updated rotary dial).
Ahead of the driver, there’s a redesigned 7-inch TFT screen showing more comprehensive driving information, including Active Cruise Control settings.
On the road, this all comes together well. So does the Stelvio’s newly introduced ADAS and level 2 autonomous driving systems. Yes, this is one of the new-fangled Alfas that can drive itself….
Up to a point, however, for current regs mean you’ll need to return your hands to the wheel after a few moments on the move.
Otherwise, the Alfa drives on seamlessly, staying correctly in-lane and at your set speed. Impressive. Italian electrics – way to go!
Though big and muscular, the Stelvio proves to be an extraordinarily agile SUV and light on its feet. Quick and responsive, fun to punt down your favourite B-road, should you be in the mood. Yep, keen drivers, step this way….
Dynamically, it’s a strong formula. With taut, well-judged body control, keen grip and super-sharp steering, backed by the power and torque of the vocal 280 hp Veloce engine, the Stelvio has a very different and spirited feel to say, a standard-issue X3.
Permanent 4WD spells strong traction and while the 20-inch wheels translate into a firm town ride, you’ll not want for road holding.
Refined at speed, it breezes the M25 cruise as well.
Economy? I averaged 24.5 mpg over a week’s driving from this 280hp petrol Veloce which would be the Stelvio version I would go for if buying.
That’s because it’s punchier than the base 200hp petrol Stelvio (and 2.2-litre diesel) and more than halfway to the Porsche challenging 510hp Stelvio Quadrifoglio range-topper, which has to be seen/driven to believed….
Inside, the Stelvio is roomy, practical. Looks smart and the mandatory high seating position offers a fine view of the road ahead. There’s also now a standard tailgate camera to cure the Stelvio’s hitherto poor rear visibility.
Big picture time. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a cool, characterful, Italian-built alternative to all the usual premium SUV suspects. Now refreshed, it’s effectively the car it should have been at launch. There is one rider, however: no hybrid or electric version just yet…
For all those freewheeling alternative thinkers out there, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio makes its case.
As a motoring journalist, he’s been writing about cars for a long time, starting in London in fact around the time the Sex Pistols first began limbering up….
Thereafter his journalistic remit has covered both new and classic cars, some historic motorsport reporting plus a long spell in Tokyo, covering the Japanese car industry for a range of global media outlets. Peter is a car writer and tester in the UK. Gooner, Alfisti and former Tokyo resident. If it has wheels, then he is interested.
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