Caught in the classifieds: 2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Launch Edition
When Alfa Romeo revealed the brand-new Giulia back in 2015, it proved to be a turning point for the company. Up until then, the Mito and the Giulietta were selling in decent numbers, but nothing too outrageous or extraordinary. The Giulia completely transformed the way people look at Alfa overnight though. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was this 3-Series and C-Class rival that could outpace both but it still cost less to buy.
Then, a year later, Alfa saw a gap in the market and decided to attack the most popular segment in the world right now: the compact luxury crossover. Dubbed the Stelvio, Alfa’s first-ever SUV attracted a lot of attention from the media and potential buyers. Given how popular the Stelvio is today, I thought it would only make sense to highlight one in our “Caught in the Classifieds” section since you can buy a second-hand example for considerably less than it would have cost you to buy it new from a dealership.
Designing a good-looking SUV is not an easy task. An SUV’s larger proportions don’t lend themselves as well to elegant and stylish design as, say, a compact hatchback or a sleek saloon. When Alfa Romeo announced they’d be building an SUV based on the same design language and architecture as the Giulia, I thought it would look weird at first. The Giulia is a great-looking saloon, maybe one of the best in its segment, but transferring design cues from a saloon to a much taller SUV is never simple or easy.
As soon as I saw the Stelvio though, my jaw hit the floor. I was in awe of how good it looks, and I’m sure most of you will agree with me on this one. Visually, the Stelvio is unquestionably the most handsome vehicle in its segment. Sure, the new Mercedes GLC is a striking-looking thing, and the latest Range Rover Velar looks as mean as ever, but both can’t hold a candle to the Stelvio.
First off, I have to say how compact and small the Stelvio looks relative to how large it actually is. Alfa has done an amazing job of getting the proportions right, especially
that minimalistic front end adorned with the traditional Alfa grille. The headlights are a straight copy from the Giulia too, but they’ve been slightly adjusted to fit the Stelvio’s larger fascia better.
The front end is stunning, but the rear end presents great talking points as well. Notice the sloping rear roofline, the raked window on the hatch, the small lip spoiler at the top… all these details add up to create one of the most accomplished-looking crossovers I think I’ve ever seen. The rear bumper hides two large exhaust outlets, one either side, and because this is a special Launch Edition, it gets ‘Quadrifoglio’-style 20” alloy wheels.
The biggest surprise with the Stelvio isn’t the way it looks on the outside, but how gorgeous it is on the inside. Finally, we have an Alfa that combines both design and build quality to create one of the loveliest cabins in its price bracket. Compared to its contemporary German rivals, the Stelvio is a work of art inside. The dash is elegant and stylish, Alfa spared no expense in using premium materials, and the ergonomics are actually good for once.
Okay, dig a bit deeper under the skin and you’ll find small little foibles, but overall, this is a massive step-up from anything Alfa has built in the past. The cabin is roomy for a compact crossover, it has decent boot space, and the build quality feels very good. I know it looks great from the outside, but for me, the biggest improvement Alfa have made over their last-generation vehicles can be found on the inside.
Engine and Performance
The Stelvio is available with three different engine options. ‘Regular’ cars come with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol or a 2.2-litre JTDm turbodiesel, while the flagship of the range, the Quadrifoglio, gets a 2.9-litre Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V6. This particular example is a JTDm diesel with 207 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque, the most potent of the diesel variants.
Power is sent to all four wheels through Alfa’s ‘Q4’ all-wheel-drive system, and it uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox to transfer that power to the ground. For a diesel crossover, the Stelvio is surprisingly sporty. It’ll hit 62 mph in 6.6 seconds and go on to a top speed of 134 mph. On a long motorway, Alfa claims it’ll return 59 mpg. In the real world, you’ll probably see low-to-mid 40s depending on how you drive it, but that’s still mightily impressive.
The best thing about the Stelvio is that it doesn’t fall apart when it sees a set of corners. I never thought I’d say this about a crossover, but the Stelvio is fun to drive and throw around. The steering is responsive, the engine has plenty of grunt in most scenarios, and the chassis is wonderfully neutral and balanced. Unlike most crossovers, the harder you drive the Stelvio the more it comes alive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a long ways off from something like a Giulia, but for a 1.6-ton SUV, it can genuinely do wonders.
Model: Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Trim: 2.2 Multijet Launch Edition
If you’re in the market for a compact crossover, I strongly suggest you take a long hard look at the Stelvio. It’s got much more character than any of its German rivals, it’s practical, quick, and fun when you want it to be. For the money, I wouldn’t even look at something like a GLC. Therefore, head to DesperateSeller.co.uk where we have great deals on used Alfa Romeo Stelvio cars for sale.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 8.5 out of 10
View the car here: 2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - £23,995