Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review (2023) - Select Car Leasing
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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review (2023)

Introduction

Everyone’s making SUVs nowadays. Even Lamborghini and Ferrari have joined the party, and if these automakers can get away with it, why can't Alfa Romeo?

Yes, purists may demand that any Alfa handles like a sports car - but who says an SUV can’t?

Alfa Romeo has undoubtedly tried, with the Stelvio losing none of the characteristics that make the Italian manufacturer's motors unique.

It is positioned in the range just above the smaller Tonale crossover, which has earned generally positive reviews since its launch. 

The Stelvio has been around for a few years longer but now has had a facelift. This means the lessons learned from its production, which found their way onto the Tonale, can finally be brought to the upgraded Stelvio itself.

That brings the trim levels into line with the rest of Alfa’s range, along with new headlights, a few styling tweaks and some upgraded technology.

Mind you; there was never a shortage of clever engineering on the Stelvio to begin with, given it has a prop shaft made from carbon fibre and other weight-saving measures designed to keep the bulk of a hefty SUV from spoiling the handling.

But the big question is whether the Stelvio can compete with the BMW X3, not to mention the Audi Q5 and the Porsche Macan.

We put one to the test to find out for you.

Select's rating score* - 3.5 / 5

At A Glance

The thing about Alfa Romeos is that you need to know you’re looking at one without needing to be told.


That’s done and dusted instantly with the Stelvio, despite it being Alfa Romeo’s biggest unit.

Regardless of its proportions being much larger than a traditional Alfa, it’s instantly recognisable thanks to the signature trefoil grille, known as the ‘Scudetto’. Plus, mean-looking triple-section headlights and two large air intakes double up as a lower grille.

It looks aggressive, like a predator ready to pounce.

The side has two pronounced creases running through the door handles and towards the bottom of the doors, giving it a chiselled, athletic appearance, complemented by a side skirt.

Around the back, you’ll find more creases and the taillights tapering in towards the centre, which leaves a diffuser-style bottom and even a shapely number plate surround to complete the look.


Key Features

There are only three versions to pick from nowadays as Alfa Romeo moves towards standardising the trim levels across its entire range.

Entry-level is Sprint grade, featuring 19-inch alloy wheels, an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with SatNav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB radio, plus a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, as well as gearshift paddles and sports pedals, both made from aluminium.


You also get an air quality system, dark matt exhaust tips, electrically adjustable folding door mirrors, half faux-leather seats, keyless go, a wireless charger and a powered tailgate.

If that wasn't enough, the mid-range Veloce trim gets six-way electric seat adjustment in the front, with four-way lumbar adjustment and driver memory function, 20-inch alloys, aluminium styling details in the cabin, black window surrounds, heated front seats and steering wheel, a limited-slip differential, sports leather seats and plenty of black exterior styling.

Top-of-the-range Competizione gets 21-inch alloys, Synaptic Dynamic Control suspension, red brake callipers, leather interior and a Harman Kardon premium audio system.


There are two turbocharged four-cylinder engines on offer, both of which are available on all grades – and both come with all-wheel drive, with the rear-wheel drive versions having been discontinued.

The petrol variant is a 2.0-litre producing 280PS, while the diesel is offered as a 2.2-litre lump producing 210PS.

Of course, this selection excludes the mighty monster, the 510PS 2.9-litre V6 found in the Quadrifoglio version, of which an updated edition will be along soon with all the regular Stelvio’s upgrades.

While we’re looking forward to driving the power-mad motor when it’s available, we’ve stuck our sensible trousers on, so we’re testing out the 2.0-litre petrol in Veloce trim instead.


Performance & Drive

Our Stelvio gets from 0-62mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds.

It feels good, too, with plenty of power across the rev range, although it’s limited to 6,000rpm to meet emissions regulations.

On motorways, it makes effortless work of overtaking, and you always feel like it's got more to offer.

The engine is smooth and reasonably refined. And it doesn’t sound bad either, especially as you near the rev limiter – although those still fantasising about V6s and V8s might disagree with this.


It is a good power unit, but then so is the diesel.

Despite being 0.2-litres bigger, it offers 70PS less than the petrol, so 0-62mph takes nearly a second longer.

Nevertheless, it's competent, offering plenty of low-end grunt. So, if you're regularly going to be driving at low speeds where outright horsepower isn’t as important, it’s likely the superior choice in practical terms.

That said, the diesel is just as capable at higher speeds, too. Hence, there's nothing wrong with choosing it for motorway driving if you're going to be doing long distances a lot, especially given its superior fuel economy.


It doesn’t seem quite as refined as the petrol, though, while the likes of Audi and BMW have far more pedigree in terms of their diesel engine offerings.

The eight-speed automatic changes smoothly and is reasonably quick to downshift if you press the accelerator. However, using the paddle shifters slightly compromises this smoothness, especially if you switch gears at times outside the norm.

In terms of handling, the Stelvio is impressive for an SUV, offering excellent levels of grip in the corners along with a car keen to turn in, helped by the ultra-sensitive steering, which gives the Stelvio agility that belies its heftiness.

Turning the wheel is effortlessly direct, although this could have been a little heavier in the bends so it's not too sensitive, but you do get used to it.


Of course, there's more body lean than you'd expect from a low-to-the-ground sports car, but for a vehicle with a loftier centre of gravity, it exceeded our expectations.

Tackling bendy B-roads is fun and exciting, and, in that regard, it gives a BMW X3 a severe run for its money, although the Porsche Macan offers yet more exhilaration.

Inevitably, there’s a price to pay – and that’s found in the ride comfort category.

Don't get us wrong, it's not uncomfortable. But it certainly does have a firm ride, and our 20-inch alloys made us glad we weren’t driving on the 21-inch rims of the range-topping Competizione trim, although the entry-level Sprint's 19-inch wheels are best.

Mind you, it doesn't do a bad job of smoothing out the road surface. But whereas it matches the X3's handling, the BMW pulls away into the stratosphere when it comes to absorption and a settled ride.


Running Costs & Emissions

In Veloce trim, the 280PS petrol unit manages 33.2mpg, producing 192g/km of CO2.

The 210PS diesel, on the other hand, will return 46.3mpg, emitting 159g/km of CO2.

As in most cars, you’ll get different but very similar figures if you choose another trim.

None of those figures is anything special, although the diesel is frugal for a car of its size, but nothing that most of its foes can't match.

With a lack of hybrid options, the Stelvio won't be parked outside many office buildings as a company car, as the Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax heavily penalises anyone who doesn’t have at least a plug-in hybrid nowadays.

One area of weakness for Alfa Romeo has always been reliability, although the Stelvio has bucked the trend in some, but not all, reliability surveys in recent years.


Interior & Technology

Inside, the cabin looks lovely and has a premium vibe, but then we would expect no less for a car that's making claims of beating the BMW X3.

There are many soft-to-the-touch plush surfaces inside, but the build quality with Alfas can sometimes be hit-and-miss, and some of the materials feel cheap.

At least it's appealing to sit in, though, with a steering wheel that looks inviting to hold thanks to its flat-bottom and bold bottom spoke. At the same time, the aluminium gearshift paddles have a good solid feel about them and are satisfying to use.

This is a plus point, but sadly, the quality of the paddles isn't matched by the quality of the materials elsewhere.


The rounded instrument dials behind the wheel create two sporty humps in the dashboard upholstery, and the air vents on either side look round like jet engines.

The small gear lever looks futuristic and is nice to use, surrounded by silver trim, which brightens up the interior in several other places, including on the aluminium sports pedals, which are included as standard across the range.


The infotainment screen is embedded within the dashboard, conveniently controlled via a rotary dial, making things much more manageable.

Unfortunately, despite recent improvements to Alfa’s system, the screen isn’t the sharpest on the market. And although the menu system is relatively intuitive and straightforward to get your head around, BMW’s industry-leading system is in a different league.


Granted, Alfa Romeo would’ve had to work miracles to trounce their German rival’s much-revered efforts, but we’d hoped for something better.

At least Alfa has kept physical dials for the air conditioning controls sitting just beneath the air vents, below the infotainment screen.

The digital instrument display behind the Stelvio's steering wheel is superb, albeit not as customisable as in some equivalents. Still, it looks good and provides lots of helpful information in a choice of three layouts.

Overall, the interior quality isn’t on the same standard as its premium competitors, but at least you can’t fault the aesthetics.


Practicality & Boot Space

It is a walk in the park to find a comfy driving position in the Stelvio, helped by the electric seat adjustment in our Veloce-trimmed test car. Meanwhile, the adjustable lumbar support adds even more support for your back.

The front seats feel absorbing, and there’s plenty of space, too, boasting a generous amount of headroom and legroom.

In the back, things aren't quite as good as its competitors, despite the Alfa being slightly longer than the Audi Q5. So, a tall front seat occupant coupled with a lofty passenger in the back won’t be the most comfortable combination for long journeys.


Headroom in the back shouldn't be an issue, but again, if you're on the tall side, you may find you're brushing your head along the ceiling, given the sloping roofline.

Two adults in the back are doable, but three will be a squeeze, despite this being Alfa's biggest car.

Upfront, the driving position is relatively high, so those who wish to laud it over the owners of pesky smaller SUV crossovers will be satisfied.

As a result, front visibility is okay, although the pillars are thick, which limits your view.

Our of the rear, they're even thicker, but that's true of nearly all cars, and, of course, front and rear parking sensors, plus a rear-view camera, are included across the Stelvio range as standard.

There is plenty of storage space inside, with generously sized door bins, a couple of cupholders in both the front and back, and more room in the cubby beneath the central armrest.

The boot capacity is 525 litres, which is smaller than most of its adversaries, including the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

Handily, though, it expands to 1,600 litres with the rear seats folded flat in a convenient 40:20:40 configuration, an operation performed simply by pulling a couple of levers in the boot.

What is even better is that the floor is flat, too, so there’s no load lip.


Safety

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio was put through its paces by crash-testing body Euro NCAP in 2017, earning a five-star rating.

It scored notably for adult occupants, too, with a 97% rating, talhough that drops to 84% for children and only 60% for safety assists.

The criteria for safety testing have become more stringent since the Stelvio was examined, too.

As far as the latter score is concerned, Alfa will likely point to the additional safety kit it's introduced in the six years since.

The Stelvio comes with automatic emergency braking, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, blind spot detection with rear-cross path alert, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring system and the rear-view camera we mentioned earlier – all as standard across the range.

Our Veloce test car gets hill descent control as standard, too.

You can also opt for the Driver Assistance Pack, which adds traffic jam assist, active blind spot assist, intelligent speed control, driver attention assist, lane keep assist, highway assist system and traffic sign recognition.


Options

In addition to the optional safety features we mentioned, there are other ways to spend extra dosh on your Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

The leather seat pack includes (funnily enough) leather seats – sports seats, in fact – and they’re heated, with a power seat bolster and come with six-way electrical adjustment, offering a memory function for the driver and a heated steering wheel.

That is included as standard on Veloce and Competizione trims. But choosing those Veloce trims unlocks the Premium Interior and Sound Pack, which upgrades to a leather dashboard, leather upper door panels and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

You will get those as standard on the top-of-the-range model.


Other extras include an electric sunroof, power-folding trailer hitch, dark-tinted rear windows, mirror caps, skid plates and front grille inserts in matt or glossy black.

You can even pay for an aluminium fuel cap, projector lights on the doors and various interior accessories, or upgrade to larger alloys if you wish.

There is a choice of interior colours, including some very appealing red seats. In contrast, those who don't want Alfa Red as the primary body colour can choose from solid white or metallic grey or black in the entry-level Sprint model.

Veloce trim can opt for special ‘Etna Red’ or metallic ‘Misano Blue’, while top-of-the-range Competizione can also get a very light grey with a matt finish.


Rival Cars

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio faces some stiff competition from plenty of big-name rivals.

The Porsche Macan (below), BMW X3 and Audi Q5 are its main competitors, but the list continues.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Jaguar F-Pace are also worth checking out.

As if that wasn’t enough for Alfa Romeo to worry about, the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Volvo XC60 are also good choices to add to your leasing shortlist.


Verdict & Next Steps

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a good-looking car which has many plus points.

If you can live without electronic seat adjustment and heated seats, then we’d stick with the entry-level Sprint trim, which is still very well equipped.

In addition to its aesthetics, it’s fun to drive, has some reasonably good engines and is practical, too, with an accommodating boot and a relatively spacious interior.


This may not be quite enough for some lease customers. 

Where the Stelvio is good, its peers can be excellent, with most offering more space, bigger boots, superior infotainment, and better build quality.

Unfortunately, that's Alfa's undoing.

But don’t get us wrong. In isolation, the Stelvio is still very tempting.


Where to next?

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**Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top leading independent car website reviews of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio

**Correct as of 06/06/2023. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £5,289.30 (Plus admin fee) Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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