WHEN Alfa Romeo announced it was entering the SUV market you could have pretty much bet your shirt the Italian car maker would deliver something stylish and the Stelvio certainly is that.
It is perhaps the Stelvio's defining feature and given SUVs can often be quite boxy and basic, being able to come up with something that is genuinely desirable is quite a feat.
The limitations of being able to produce sleek design lines in a vehicle which sits high and by its very nature has practicality at its core is challenging to say the least.
The result is the Stelvio is up there with some of the most attractive SUVs out there right now - like the Jaguar I-Pace, Porsche Macan and Maserati Levante.
It forms a key part of an Alfa Romeo revival that is aiming to genuinely match the Germans.
Alfas have always had style to the fore but have been lacking in other departments but that could well be a thing of the past.
The Giulia saloon has done much to spur that Alfa revival and the Stelvio has much in common with it, sharing the same platform for a start.
Of course one could just admire the Stelvio from the outside indefinitely but the sultry Italian style extends to the interior too.
It has a modern ambience combined with a simple elegance and crucially does not feel lacking when it comes to quality.
If one were to be critical it would be to say that its German rivals still have the edge when it comes to fit and finish but the Stelvio really isn't very far behind the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC - and that really is saying something.
The cabin is open and roomy too, with the coupe inspired exterior styling doing little to impinge on its practicality - and it boasts a decent sized (525-litre) boot.
One limitation I noticed is its rear windscreen, which is on the small side, but with the technology available these days to aid parking and manoeuvring that is something of a minor quibble.
In terms of the Stelvio range it is quite simple in many respects, though somewhat amazingly prices range from £37,490 for an entry-level diesel to almost £90,000.
There are five main trim levels - Super, Nero Edizione, Speciale, Milano Edizione and Quadrifoglio,
There's also a limited edition Quadrifoglio NRing which brings carbon fibre and more besides to the mix.
Both Quadrifoglio models are pretty much out on their own - powered by a 2.9-litre petrol engine tuned by Ferrari's engineers. They will set you back Â£69,990 and Â£89,500 respectively.
The majority of the model line-up is powered by two engines, each of which have two different power variants.
There's a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel, with the petrol delivering 200bhp or 280bhp, while the diesel is available with either 190bhp or 210bhp.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard and most are all-wheel drive, with just the lower powered diesel having a rear-wheel drive option.
It could be argued that the SUV acronym is one of the most inaccurate in the automotive world as there's generally not that much that's sporty about them.
However Alfa have made a determined effort to deliver a genuinely dynamic vehicle with the Stelvio, irrespective of whether it's a bog standard model or one of those thoroughbred range-topping Quadrifoglio versions.
This was an all-wheel drive model, the higher powered of the diesel variants and the driving experience was impressive to say the least.
The turbo-diesel unit performed enthusiastically and the DNA of the fun to drive Giulia has been well and truly carried over.
You might sit high and though there's the inevitable element of pitch and roll when cornering at speed the Stelvio feels remarkably stable and composed and surprisingly agile.
Talking of DNA, Alfa's on bord optional driving modes emphasize the Stelvio's versatility. Via the DNA drive mode selector it's possible to adjust the way the car feels and performs. You can choose from natural, dynamic, and all-weather modes. The differences really are marked and fun to play around with.
Given its overtly sporty handling one might expect ride quality in the Stelvio to be compromised. This certainly isn't the case, even if it does err towards being firm rather than soft. Again, the DNA dial offers variations on a theme in this regard.