While you’re Alfa Romeo, and a good chunk of your attraction is that you just’re not the mainstream possibility, constructing an SUV just like the 2018 Stelvio presents a difficult steadiness to strike. In any case, Alfa drivers could not need a predictable automobile of their storage, however Fiat Chrysler Vehicles shareholders need mainstream gross sales. The Giulia sports activities sedan could have discovered favor amongst passionate drivers, however crossovers and SUVs are the place the widest wallets are. Alfa Romeo had a alternative, due to this fact, and the Stelvio is the reply, born of the Giulia however out looking mutineers from the mainstream.

It’s an more and more crowded section, as Alfa Romeo is aware of all too effectively. In addition to the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and BMW X3, there are extra uncommon choices like Porsche’s Macan and, most just lately, Jaguar’s F-PACE. Gross sales total are booming – 1 in four premium automobiles bought final 12 months was a premium SUV, in actual fact – however the competitors is powerful. “Our prospects will probably be 100-percent conquest for those who’re being lifelike,” Pieter Hogeveen, director of Alfa Romeo North America, explains. “They’re used to a premium expertise.”

The technique is type, efficiency, and a touch of heritage, including up – so Alfa hopes – to a jolt of pleasure generally lacking from the section. On the design entrance there’s no mistaking it: the “Scudetto” grille piercing deep into the entrance valance, deep surfacing alongside the flanks, and a curvaceous rump. Badge-spotters may not know that the Stelvio is known as after the hairpin-heavy twelve mile cross within the Italian Alps, however they’ll positively understand it’s one thing uncommon.

Out of the gate, Alfa Romeo is maintaining issues easy with the engine. There’s only one possibility at launch, in actual fact, a 2.Zero-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, with 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft. of torque. It’ll do Zero-60 mph in 5.four seconds and high out at 144 mph. Alfa is eager to level out that they’re best-in-class numbers.

The simplicity doesn’t cease there, thoughts. All-wheel drive is normal, and regardless of the Giorgio Venture structure – the identical as which underpins the Giulia – being rear-wheel drive biased, there are not any plans for RWD Stelvio. Beneath typical situations the SUV pushes 100-percent of its energy to the rear wheels, and also you discover it too, with distinctly car-like really feel from what’s nonetheless a reasonably upright car. Ought to dealing with demand it, as much as 60-percent of the ability might be shifted to the entrance wheels.

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The engineers are significantly pleased with the 50/50 weight distribution, as they’re concerning the entrance double-wishbone suspension and rear Alfa Hyperlink suspension. What this isn’t, even using 2.5-inches greater than the Giulia, is an off-roading machine. “It is a true driving section,” Hogeveen argues, “we don’t see many consumers going off-road.”

To that finish, whereas there’s Alfa’s DNA – Dynamic, Pure, and Superior Effectivity – drive modes on supply with an easily-toggled dial within the heart console, there’s no hill-descent mode, and no mud or snow settings. As an alternative you get an SUV that merely doesn’t drive like an SUV.

The Stelvio hides its additional bulk neatly, the additional top and size over the Giulia effectively disguised. Throttle response is swift, and there’s little turbo lag to be handled. The Eight-speed transmission is swift to downshift in Dynamic mode, too, and understeer is pretty much as good as non-existent. The second of actual reference to the automobile comes if you attain out for these large metallic paddles, thoughts.

They’re among the largest I’ve seen and, not like most paddle-shifters, they’re mounted on the steering column somewhat than the wheel itself: they don’t transfer as you flip. A part of their appeal is the immediacy of the shifts, even for those who’re triple-snapping within the ultimate moments earlier than a good nook, however there’s additionally their virtually cartoonish scale. It means issues can really feel a bit crowded in your fingers across the stalks simply behind them, however that’s a compromise I’m glad to make.

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Keen drivers can even like the truth that the paddles received’t nanny you. In the event you’re in guide mode, hit the redline and the Stelvio will keep screaming somewhat than upshift you robotically. Great things, however it’d be extra enjoyable if that limiter was greater than 5,500 rpm.

All of the extra cause to remain targeted, in fact. The Stelvio’s dashboard helps there, cleanly put collectively however unlikely to distract you with its pretty nondescript design. I’m not a fan of the elephant butt-textured plastic that makes an look throughout most of the surfaces, however the controls really feel strong and fortunately not like Fiat Chrysler parts-bin spares.

Analog dials flank a sq. LCD with navigation, media, and journey data, whereas there’s an Eight.Eight-inch infotainment show within the heart stack as normal on the Stelvio Ti. That also appears to be like oddly small, primarily due to its widescreen facet ratio, however you do get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as normal. Sadly, from what I think is the anti-glare coating Alfa has utilized, graphics can seem barely mottled, significantly if you’re maps.

It wouldn’t be an Alfa with out some oddities, in fact. The bizarre show additionally suffers a tiny reversing digital camera preview, which just some raindrops can obscure. The beginning/cease system is clunky and lacks finesse; the very first thing Alfa’s staff did after we obtained behind the wheel was present us learn how to flip it off. The brakes aren’t brief on energy – 13-inch rotors and four-piston Brembo calipers up entrance, together with 12.5-inch, single-caliper discs on the again – however there’s a good quantity of pedal journey earlier than you attain its chunk. Freeway financial system of 28 mpg is spectacular, on paper a minimum of; with a mix of roads and a few extra spirited driving, we noticed extra like 23 mpg.

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Within the common Stelvio, which kicks off at $41,995, you get normal leather-based, an influence tailgate, bi-Xenon headlamps with LED daytime operating lights, gloss-colored brake calipers, LED tail lips, distant and push-button begin, rear parking sensors, power-adjustable seats, and a alternative of black, chocolate, or pink inside. The $1,800 Sport package deal provides 19-inch alloys, the steering wheel shifters, sport-tuned suspension, a leather-wrapped sports activities wheel, and a few visible glitz. A dual-pane glass roof is $1,350.

Step as much as the $43,995 Stelvio Ti, which Alfa expects to be the amount mannequin, and also you get 19-inch wheels, the Eight.Eight-inch windscreen infotainment system, SiriusXM, entrance parking sensors, and heating for the entrance seats and steering wheel. A $2,500 Ti Sport pack boosts the wheels to 20-inches and tunes up the suspension, in addition to throwing in 12-way energy sports activities seats with much-appreciated energy bolsters. Alternatively, the $2,500 Ti Lusso pack has swankier leather-based, extra cosseting seats, and actual wooden trim decisions.

I do know what you’re actually taken with, thoughts. Come Q1 2018, Alfa will roll out the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, its 505 HP model. In addition to the type of blistering pace we’ve come to count on from the Giulia Quadrifoglio, it’ll have choices like carbon-ceramic brakes and different efficiency niceties. Pricing will probably be introduced nearer to its launch, however you’re in all probability greatest beginning saving now.

In the event you can’t wait, there’s lots to like concerning the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio right this moment. From the automaker’s listing of potential rivals, solely the ¸Porsche Macan and maybe the Jaguar F-PACE have the driving dynamics to compete. Each are particular in their very own method, however neither has the character and purity of intent that the Stelvio presents in spades.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Gallery