BMW’s upcoming X3 is going to have its hands full when it finally debuts. The new Audi Q5 seems to be a cracking little car and the upcoming Volvo XC60 that just debuted in Geneva looks quite promising. Now, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is starting to hit roads and it seems like it can be a genuine competitor in the segment. Carfection drives it in its home environment in this latest video.
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Most of the pictures and videos we saw of the Stelvio prior to this video were all of the Quadrifoglio variant. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (is there a company with better sounding names than Alfa, by the way? I think not) is the hot, 503 hp variant. Typically, the Quadrifoglio is the sexier variant and the one everyone wants to see, as is the case with the Giulia. But I think in the case of the Stelvio, it actually does its design a disservice.
In standard spec, the Stelvio actually has some pretty curves and nice lines, whereas the Quadrifoglio variant seems a bit too aggressive and too…nostrilly. This normal Stelvio in the video actually looks quite nice, if a bit too soft, and brings a bit of Italian charm to a segment dominated by staid and smart German crossovers. The cabin, which is a mirror image of the Giulia’s, is also quite nice, but it does lack the technology of its German rivals.
But no one buys an Alfa for its cabin quality or technology. People buy Alfas to drive and, apparently, this new Alfa Stelvio is very nice to drive. On the twisty roads of the Swiss Alps, near the road that gave the Alfa SUV its name (The Stelvio Pass), the Stelvio seems like a good bit of fun. It looks like it hangs on well in the sharp turns and lacks the body roll typically attributed to crossovers.
Its Q4 all-wheel drive system sends most of its power to the rear wheels under normal circumstances, making it seem more rear-wheel drive than anything else. It can shift up to 50 percent of its power to the front wheels if deemed necessary, but it’s mostly rear-wheel drive. This makes it a much better road car than off-road car, but that’s really where this car is going to live anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.
One curiosity is the gearbox. Alfa uses the same ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic that BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus and basically every other carmaker in the world uses. However, in the Alfa, the shift logic is odd and it actually isn’t all that intuitive. No matter, as using the giant aluminum paddles behind the wheel (a la Ferrari) is a delight and makes driving the Stelvio that much more fun.
All in all, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio seems like it could be a very good car and one that will challenge the X3 when both finally hit the roads. While the BMW X3 will always be the safer choice, as will be the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, thanks to their consistency and reliability, the Stelvio will pose as the charming enthusiast option. If buyers are looking for something to just be spacious, stylish and fun, it will be hard to pass on the newest member of the Alfa Romeo family. Plus, just saying that name makes me smile.