The first thing that stroke me when I first set sight on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio was how pretty it looked. Like how David is a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance sculpture, the Stelvio is a paragon of automotive design in the SUV space. Both David and Stelvio have one thing in common – they are sculpted to perfection. It is this attribute that gives David life-like expression, emotion and strength. By the same attribute, the Stelvio’s expressive design also evokes emotion and strength.
If you’re considering a mid-size luxury SUV, you were most likely drawn to this review because of you like the Stelvio’s styling and you want something that isn’t from the usual German luxury establishment. Fair enough and those thoughts would be sweetened further when I say the Stelvio isn’t just a pretty face.
But before we dive into the details let’s understand the Stelvio line-up. The range has been updated for 2023 and now consists of the Ti, Veloce and the performance flagship Quadrifoglio – the latter has yet to arrive in Australia. On test here is the mid-spec Stelvio Veloce from the pre-updated line-up. The refreshed model will be tested later this year, so stay tuned for that review.
Those looking to save a good chunk off the retail price might want to head into a local Alfa Romeo dealerships now to secure one of these pre-updated Stelvios on run-out sales. If you’re paying full, you’d be looking at $82,950 plus on-road costs.
Potential Stelvio buyers are always keen to stand out from the crowd, but it’s still worth noting what you can buy for roughly the same money. The Italian SUV, in the Veloce grade, rivals the likes of Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, Porsche Macan, Audi Q5 45 TFSI, BMW X5 xDrive30i and Lexus NX 350 F Sport.
It’s a tough competition set, but the Stelvio Veloce is arguably the sportiest of the lot and once again – in my eyes at least – the most beautiful. Shifting focus to within the Stelvio line-up, over and above its lesser Ti variant the Veloce brings extra power, adaptive suspension, limited-slip rear differential and bigger brakes. All these distinguishable through body-coloured wheel arch moldings and rear bumper, gloss black window surrounds and side mirror caps, black roof and Veloce-specific 20-inch wheels. The Veloce is as close as you can get – in terms of looks – to the clover leaf-badged Quadrifoglio and it did turn quite a few heads everywhere I went during that one week I had the car.
Like the exterior, the cabin design of the Stelvio is characterised by flowing lines and curved shapes. The dual instrumentation tunnels are a trademark design of the brand, so is the steering wheel-mounted engine start button. Unlike most models in the segment, those paddle shifters are mounted on the steering column and not the steering wheel itself. This means they don’t move with the wheel, which I think is less confusing to operate. They are carved out of a single piece of aluminum and boy do they look fantastic.
There’re enough brushed silver highlights to lift the otherwise dark interior palette and the materials used feel very high quality. Pleasingly, Alfa Romeo’s build quality has also improved tremendously over the years and it’s very much evident in the Stelvio. As a whole, the cabin feels premium and sporty. I just wish it had some mood lighting strips to set the tone after dark.
The front power adjustable and heated leather seats are heavily bolstered, which I think is a little unnecessary given this is not a sports car. They provide great support but larger built people might find them a bit too snug. They do look good though.
In contrast, the rear seats are much flatter so they don’t give as much support. While head room is decent for the average adult, leg room isn’t as generous and there’s a large drivetrain hump which the middle rear passenger will have to deal with.
The 499-litre boot space is decent, and with the rear seats folded the space expands to 1600 litres. The boot floor is nicely flat and there’re hooks and nets to help manage cargo. The powered tailgate adds to the convenience.
In terms tech and connectivity, the pre-updated Stelvio comes fitted with an 8.8-inch centre touchscreen that supports Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, built-in sat-nav, DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity. A wireless phone charging pad is also equipped, so are four USB ports dotted around the cabin.
Compared to its rivals, the Stelvio’s tech isn’t the most cutting edge – the small infotainment touchscreen is the biggest betrayal and the second being the lack of a fully digital driving instrumentation cluster. The latter is, however, introduced in the refreshed model, but the centre screen in the new car is still disappointingly the same small size.
My Stelvio Veloce test vehicle has been optioned with a few niceties, including a $1650 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system with a subwoofer and a $3300 large panoramic sunroof.
Where the Stelvio triumphs its rivals is under the bonnet. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine specific to the Veloce grade is the most powerful in the segment. With 206kW and 400Nm at the driver’s disposal, the Stelvio is also the quickest to 100km/h, at just 5.7 seconds.
Eager to rev to its 5250rpm redline, the engine is no doubt one of the sportiest I have ever come across in an SUV. It sounds properly good, too. But unless you’re constantly prodding it around, the engine’s low speed performance can feel a little underwhelming at times owing to its peak torque arriving at a relatively high 2250rpm. That said it’s just a matter of getting used to, and it’s only obvious when you’re hopping into the Stelvio from a BMW X5 or Audi Q5, both of which have better low-end torque.
The eight-speed automatic transmission does a fine job of shuffling power from the engine, working discreetly in the background to balance power delivery and fuel efficiency. It’s so good I left it to its own devices most of the time and only used it during sporty driving.
The sporting potential, an Alfa Romeo trait, continues in the way the Stelvio drives. The highly rigid chassis is a great complement to the strong engine. Combined, the Stelvio Veloce serves up one of the sharpest handling dynamics in the SUV space. The steering is precise, the throttle is lively and the body feels locked in. It’s flat and composed around the bends, fast and keen on the straights. This is an SUV for the driver.
The recipe is revealed in the specs. The Stelvio weights just 1619kg, much lighter than its rivals, and the Q4 all-wheel drive is rear biased with torque vectoring for tighter turn-in. It has one of the sportiest set ups in the segment.
Yet, ride comfort isn’t compromised. With the adaptive dampers in soft setting road imperfections are rounded off nicely, albeit still with a hint of sportiness to maintain road feel. It’s because of this the Stelvio could still be enjoyed on sweeping country roads while being driven sedately.
The Stelvio’s reported real-world average fuel use of 8.9L/100km at the end of my week-long road test with over 600km clocked is in the ballpark for this class of vehicle, but it falls short of the rated 7.0L/100km. Like all other premium SUVs in the segment, the Stelvio runs on RON 95 premium unleaded fuel.
Finally, Alfa Romeo is matching other luxury players in extending their warranty period to 5 years and no cap on kilometres. The Stelvio’s service interval of 12 months or 15,000km is also pretty standard.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Strong powertrain
- Sharp handling
- Not the most updated tech
- Monotone interior
- Rear leg room less generous than rivals
The premium mid-size SUV space is currently one of the most tightly contested passenger car markets, and the Stelvio is certainly one competitive player with an edge in performance, dynamics and style. Being more sports focused, the Stelvio’s closest rival is perhaps the Porsche Macan which has almost become the go-to model for anyone buying a sports SUV below $100k. As such, the Stelvio remains a left field option, albeit one that is very worth considering if you’re not a follower.
2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce pricing and specification
|Price (Excl. on-roads):
As tested: $90,050
Premium paint – $2150
Panoramic sunroof – $3300
14-speaker Harman Kardon audio – $1650
|5 years/unlimited kilometers
|Warranty Customer Service:
|5 years roadside assist
|Country of Origin:
|2.0-litre turbocharged in-line four cylinder petrol:
206kW @ 5250rpm, 400Nm @ 2250rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):
|Claimed: 5.7 / Tested: 6.1
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):
|Claimed: 7.0 / Tested: 8.9
|Fuel Capacity (L):
|5-door SUV, 5 seats
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:
|Tare Mass (kg):
|Boot Space (L):
|499 / 1600