Alfa Romeo, returned to the U.S. marketplace following a nearly 20 year hiatus, having long been the heart and soul of the European auto industry. The first model to return to the North American marketplace was the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Sport Coupe followed by a convertible version – the 4C Spider. Both were two-seaters that were inspired by the timeless 33 Stradale. Next came the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia, a luxurious ultra high performance four door sedan with the capability of challenging the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in their respective categories. The Giuilia stable consisted of three models: the base Giulia; the Giulia Ti; and the halo model and flagship hot rod Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
The Giulia lineup marked the resurgence or rebirth of the Alfa Romeo marque as one of eight all-new Alfa Romeos to bow through 2020. The Giulia nameplate alone enjoys a 55-year plus history of Alfa Romeo’s iconic, lightweight, performance sedan tradition, as well as more than 105 years of brand history, leaving its legendary mark on global road courses.
Following in the tire tracks of the Alfa 4C and Giulia model lineups, came the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV, available in four models: the base Stelvio; Stelvio Sport; Stelvio Ti (there’s a Sport version of the TI as well) ; and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. There was also a more expensive Stelvio Ti Lusso model that featured higher end comfort and convenience content.
The all-new Stelvio became the second of a new vehicle lineup built off a world-class architecture embodying the brand’s La meccanica delle emozioni (the mechanics of emotion) spirit. Named after the Stelvio Pass, the highest mountain pass in Italy located in Northern Italy and the second highest in Europe – a 12-mile roadway with 48 hairpin turns at 9,000 feet above sea level, this Italian SUV is the ideal machine to conquer the passes’ challenging S-curves.
All Stelvio models feature Alfa’s Q4 All-Wheel Drive system. The base Stelvio, Stelvio Sport, Stelvio Ti and Stelvio TI Sport draw their motive force from a MultiAir2 – 2.0-liter, SOHC, 16-Valve, direct mount, twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with Gasoline Direct Injection. The Longitudinally mounted front engine makes 280 horses at 5,200 rpm, while also developing 306 pound feet of torque in a range from 2,000-4,800 rpm capable of propelling the Stelvios from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds, with a top speed of 144 mph. Energy reaches the wheels via an 8HP50 ZF Eight-speed Turbo automatic transmission with manual mode, featuring Alfa’s DNA drive mode selector, with three settings: Dynamic; Natural; and Advanced Efficiency. Dynamic provides sharper brake and steering feel with more aggressive engine, Transmission and throttle tip-in calibrations.
The 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s focus was to achieve the title of “The World’s Fastest SUV”. Quadrifioglio is Italian for “Four Leaf Clover” which is considered a good luck symbol in Alfa’s racing endeavors. It is powered by the same heart and soul that gives life to the Alfa Giulia – a Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter, twin-turbo, Direct Injected, 90-degree V6 that pumps out 505 horsepower at 6,500 rpm along with 443 pound feet of torque in a range from 2,500-5,500 rpm. The Quadrifoglio Stelvio is capable of rocketing from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and of achieving a top speed of 176 mph. The transmission is the same electronically controlled eight-speed automatic with column mounted paddle shifters, but the Alfa DNA Drive Mode Selector is the Pro upgrade, and adds an extra setting – Race.
The Drive mode controller significantly modifies the persona of the Stelvio. A is for ‘Advanced Efficiency’ turning the Stelvio into a polite cruiser. N is for ‘Natural Mode,’ which prepares the 2.9-liter V6 for more response. D=Dynamic Mode and yields even greater engine response, and Race Mode delivers the ultimate performance level – It also opens up the exhaust baffles providing a sweet exhaust note.
ICONIC ITALIAN STYLING
Visually, the Stelvio lineup leads off with the iconic “Scudetto” triangular mesh grille sculpted within the front fascia forming the “Trilobo”, an Alfa design signature. The grille, which appears with Alfa Romeo’s new logo, is flanked by “cat-eye-like” bi-xenon projector headlamps, while LED daytime running lights provide a recognizable appearance. Below are large air intake grilles.
The profile displays, short overhangs, with a gracefully arched roofline from the “A” pillar to the “C” pillar or aft sail panel. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio sits low, with the sculpted wheel wells closely hugging the wheels and tires. There are bold character lines cut into the sides, with a shoulder line that runs the length of the vehicle.
The rear styling treatment emphasizes the Stelvio’s width with a coved section that houses the wraparound tail lamps, and a composite diffuser highlights the split dual exhaust tips. An integrated spoiler lip resides just above the rearward angled gate glass.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
The Stelvio’s cabin provides comfortable, supportive seating for up to five, but with the primary focus being on the driver. The three-spoke, flat bottom steering wheel has a nice substantial feel and holds the red engine start/stop button ala Ferrari. The paddle shifters are also Ferrari inspired and are column mounted. The dash consists of an asymmetrical layout with TFT displays mounted on the left.
My test 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio was the Quadrifoglio version. The exterior was finished in Montecarlo Blue metallic with a Black Interior featuring Alcantara and leather seating and carbon fiber trim accents. The base price was set at $79,795., while the final tally came to $82,790., after factoring in the optional fare and destination charge. Options included: the metallic paint, Convenience Package, Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto and Quadrifoglio carbon fiber steering wheel.
The Alfa Stelvio is easily personalized, offering a dozen available exterior color options, 3 available interior options, 2 available audio options, 3 available radio systems, 7 available wheel options, an available trailer tow hitch with a 3,000 pound capacity, a dual pane sunroof, headlamp washers, Aluminum interior trim accents, genuine Dark Gray Oak or Light Walnut wood interior trim. Available Packages offered include: a Cold Weather Package, Driver Assistance Static Package with Front Park Sensors, Driver Assistance Dynamic Plus Package and a Convenience Package.
The Stelvio delivers brisk acceleration response, with no discernable turbo lag, and the shifting in either manual or automatic mode is both quick and smooth. All modes of the Alfa DNA Drive Mode Selector were put to the test, with the Sport mode proving to be the most satisfying and rewarding in terms of athletic handling characteristics, where the Stelvio remains flat under challenging scenarios, such as wet and curvy.
The ride quality is exceptionally firm but also quite stable. The seats are highly supportive during spirited maneuvers, with a well balanced, near 50/50 weight distribution.
THE FINAL TAKE
The all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is truly an SUV for the S-Curves in any of its trim levels, which are not only stylishly attractive, but perform well, and are versatile and practical. They are also reasonably priced considering their content level and capability. The Quadrifoglio version, is a phenomenal performer, and well worth the extra cash. It provides the most fun that one can have in a small SUV. You really get what you pay for. On the other hand, if you’re budget conscious or constrained, obviously not everyone wants or needs 505 horses under the hood, and the lesser models are impressive as well.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Q4 AWD
Base Price: $79,795.
Price as Tested: $82,790.
Engine Type and Size: Ferrari derived 2.9-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, biturbo V-6, with side-mounted Gasoline Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 505 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 443 @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled eight-speed automatic with column mounted paddle shifters.
Drive Train: Front-mounted engine / Q4 All-wheel drive system
Suspension: Front – Double wishbone with semi-virtual steering axle.
Rear – Alfa Link design with patented vertical rod link.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs with Brembo four- piston calipers front / single-piston caliper-rear – with ABS.
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 255/ 45 R20 101Y front and 285/40 R20 104Y rear mounted on Graphite painted 5-loop spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Length Overall: 185.1 inches
Width: 77.0 inches
Height: 66.3 inches with roof-mounted spoiler
Ground Clearance: 7.9 inches
Curb Weight: 4,360 lbs.
Turning Circle: Not listed
Fuel Capacity: 16.9 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 17 mpg city / 23-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.34
0 – 60 mph: 3.6 seconds – Top speed=176 mph.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.
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