Alfa Romeo Stelvio

2.0 Q4 Speciale

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, side
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, front
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, front
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, side
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, interior
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, boot

ALFA Romeo has designed a sports car in SUV clothing with the arrival of the Stelvio.

The intention is obvious - to produce a stylish motor that is great to drive and stands out in a crowded and lucrative market packed with serious competitors.

The Stelvio attempts to achieve this goal by pushing the barriers of what a medium-sized SUV should be - with the clue being in the name.

It refers to a breathtaking mountain pass in northern Italy bordering Switzerland consisting of series of scintillating hairpins on the must-do list of serious drivers everywhere - and Alfa's SUV aims to put itself on their must-drive list.

So while the legendary Italian car maker is jumping on the runaway sport utility vehicle sales train, it is doing so in a cool way that pays a lot more than lip service to its sporting heritage.

Press the pedal to the metal and 62mph is achieved from a standing start in the 2.0-litre petrol Speciale model - aided and abetted by a slick eight-speed transmission fitted as standard in all but the entry level diesel models - in just 5.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 143mph.

But brutal power is nothing without control and what is really impressive here are the jet fighter-like handling characteristics and steering sharper than the wit of Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle.

Corners can be treated with disdain as the Stelvio is sure-footed thanks to perfect 50/50 weight distribution as well as the great grip provided by the Q4 all-wheel drive and a chassis that easily copes with the strain.

Based on a modified version of the Giorgio platform used on the Italian company's Giulia compact executive saloon, the Stelvio also offers a smooth ride with only the roughest road surfaces disturbing its equilibrium.

Despite the jacked up stance the Stelvio isn't really set up for life off-road although there is a downhill descent system fitted. In line with the sports car pretensions the Stelvio gets the lightweight treatment to improve performance.

So for your £45,000 you get advanced engineering including a carbon fibre driveshaft and aluminium parts - all with the goal of helping Alfa's SUV get from A to B as quickly as possible.

The effort to keep the extra pounds off the waistline also helps at the petrol pump with an official average fuel figure of 40.4 miles per gallon equating to the high 30s in the real world - pretty good for a motor boasting top performance figures.

The sports car focus is also apparent both inside and out with the eye-catching exterior boasting smart alloys and a muscular purposeful stance as well as dual exhaust tailpipes at each corner in rear and a natty grille at the front.

Step into the cabin and Italian flair is everywhere - linked to a host of modern technology.

The dashboard design features a stylish infotainment system and an 8.8-inch central screen which in the Speciale model gives access to the sat-nav and digital radio via a rotary dial on the transmission tunnel. Next to it is a switch for moving through Alfa's various DNA driving modes.

There is another screen situated behind the steering wheel which offers a host of data for the driver to consider.

The sports seats are big and supportive and there is plenty of space for all with three adults able to be accommodated in the rear.

There are lots of cubby holes and cup holders as well as a covered central stowage box and decent-sized glovebox for your odds and sods.

The boot can swallow 525 litres of shopping or luggage while folding the rear sears reveals a cave-like amount of room. It is accessed via the standard-fit electric tailgate.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 Q4 Speciale

Price:£45,615

Mechanical:280ps, 1,995cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:143mph

0-62mph:5.7 seconds

Combined MPG:40.4

Insurance Group:36

C02 emissions:161g/km

Bik rating:36%

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