Publication date: 16 August 2023
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
First impression

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The last of the mechanicals

First impression - Alfa Romeo is changing. The brand is now part of the Stellantis Group which also includes Fiat, Opel, Peugeot and Citro├źn. That means Alfa Romeo has access to state-of-the-art technology and so it is time to say goodbye to purely mechanical engines. Before that happens, however, the Stelvio will undergo a final facelift.
Autoparts

When the Stelvio entered the market in 2017, this SUV had a clear goal: it wanted to live up to the word "Sport" in "Sports Utility Vehcile". For the 2023 model year, the sporty look will be reinforced by new headlights with three separate elements, like Alfa Romeo's past sports cars.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Space and equipment

As before, the emphasis is not on off-road capability, which is why Alfa Romeo opts for a relatively low build. This is immediately noticeable when taking a seat behind the steering wheel. While the Stelvio has a higher seating position than a traditional passenger car, it is much lower than most other SUVs. The feeling of driving a big, mighty machine is therefore completely lacking.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Instead, the Stelvio offers the same secure feeling as any other luxury Alfa Romeo. The seat is even slightly laid back, which is unusual for an SUV. Because the Stelvio does not make as good use of height, space in the rear is only reasonable for a car of this size.

The Stelvio betrays its age by its equipment, which, while rich and complete, is not modern. It lacks support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for instance. There are some driver assistants, but they are nowhere near as smart or sophisticated as those found in cars of more recent age. This can also be seen as an advantage, as it means the Stelvio has less electronics on board that interfere with driving.

Driving characteristics

The seating position, the choice to adjust the suspension for use on public roads (i.e. not off-road), the proportional weight distribution between the front and rear wheels, the relatively light build, the emphasis on rear-wheel drive and the direct steering make it clear that everything is about handling in the Stelvio. Consequently, these are fine and is almost on a par with the Giulia. Moreover: the quicker it is driven, the lighter this mid-size SUV seems to become!

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

As of the 2023 model year, there will be only one petrol engine on the price list: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that develops for 280 hp / 400 Nm. As mentioned earlier, this is the last powerplant without any form of electric assistance. This same engine can also be found in the Giulia and always has lavish power in this sedan. In the higher and heavier Stelvio, however, the powerplant has to work much harder and the excess is gone. Only when the driver insists does the power come out and then the Stelvio can certainly be called sporty.

However, the many competitors that now use electric assistance have much more power and deliver it with much more ease. Thereby, this purely mechanical Stelvio consumes 12 litres per 100 km in practice. That, together with the high CO2 tax, ensures that the customer is paying for an enthusiast's car but not getting it (unlike the Giulia with the same engine). That is why it is perhaps better that this is Alfa Romeo's last purely mechanical model, because for a big, tall and heavy SUV, a (plug-in) hybrid is  better.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Conclusion

When Alfa Romeo introduced the Stelvio in 2017, it was undoubtedly the sportiest SUV in its class. In the meantime, however, much has changed. By now, most large SUVs have plug-in hybrid propulsion and thus perform better, while being more economical to buy and use.

The Stelvio, with its purely mechanical setup, puts a lighter weight in return, which benefits handling. Moreover, the safety systems are relatively simple and therefore hardly interfere with driving. The classic technology and the associated high CO2 tax make the Stelvio so expensive that only the true enthusiast is willing to pay that price. This makes the Stelvio the last of the mechanicals.

plus
  • Strong engine (if provoked)
  • Excellent handling for an SUV
minus
  • High consumption
  • Outdated safety devices