Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Q4 Super

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, nose
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, front, action
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, front, static
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, side
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, interior
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, rear seats
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018, boot

THE long-levelled moan about today's cars is they all look the same.

Well, Alfa Romeo can pat itself on the back here. With that famous upright grille and creamy, flowing lines most models can be recognised from at least one hundred paces.

None more so than the Stelvio, the Italian marque's first foray into the SUV market.

Like its saloon brethren, the five-door four-wheel-drive (4WD) has an elegance and an originality of design that makes it stand out from rivals.

Of course, good looks alone won't guarantee success and as a late comer to the crossover club, the Stelvio has much to prove and plenty of ground to make up against competitors such as Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and Jaguar F-Pace.

There's the usual choice between petrol and diesel powered models, with the latter expected to draw most attention.

The version I drove was the 2.2-litre with 207bhp turbo diesel engine, a lively yet extremely economical choice that leads the way over rivals in terms of punchy acceleration allied to meagre thirst.

The diesel engine is a tad grumpy and growly at low revs and certainly lacks the sweet harmony of a six-cylinder petrol, but then it is an oil burner. On the move, things smooth out and the mid range punch plus mile-stretching economy tend to help make up for the early commotion.

As an indication of its superior clout the Stelvio dispatches the 62mph sprint in just 6.6 seconds, a full second or so quicker than most similar SUVs and the official combined economy is 58.9mpg, making it cheaper than most to run.

It's very much a driver's car with well-damped suspension, restricted roll angles and sharper than average steering. Maybe the ride isn't quite as settled and compliant as an F-Pace but it's not far behind.

It has a constant four-wheel-drive system with the majority of the power being directed to the rear wheel most of the time. The result is crisp, sharp reactions with an accent on sportiness.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard and works a treat thanks to smooth almost unnoticeable changes. Play with the steering wheel paddles if you feel in a sporty mood.

The cabin on the Q4 Super is smart and nicely trimmed in leather with ample stowage space, deep pockets and cubbies and plenty of flat surfaces useful for resting stuff during family picnics on rainy days.

A large 8.8-inch touch screen that incorporates sat nav is set high in the centre of the facia and a couple of big round dials - very traditional - are directly in front of the driver. The layout is appealing and usable, and appears appropriately durable.

Space-wise, the cabin measures up well to rivals with comfortable room for four adults, or even five if necessary. The rear seats split and fold 60-40 for extra versatility and there's 525 litres of cargo room available with a full payload of passengers.

Rear head height is slightly restricted by the sloping roof but there's ample clearance for six-footers nevertheless.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 Super

Price: £38,490

Mechanical:207bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 6.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 58.9

Insurance Group: 30

C02 emissions: 127g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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