Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Milano Edizione 2.2

Diesel 210

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, front
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, dynamic
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, profile
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, interior, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, dynamic, front
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, dashboard
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, boot
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, interior

MOST car makers may make claims to the contrary but the family-friendly fashionability of an SUV usually comes at the expense of any hopes of sportiness.

Elevated ride heights usually result in wallowy handling while the need for practicality often means upright, boxy design.

Alfa Romeo, though, is not known for conforming to the norm - and the Stelvio is certainly not your typical SUV.

With styling, inside and out, based on the superb Giulia sports saloon I defy anyone to look at this motor and disagree that it is the stand out car in the class appearance-wise.

Imposing alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a sloping, coupe-style roofline and huge twin tailpipes serve to underline the Stelvio's sporty credentials - but does it have the driving dynamics to live up to those gorgeous lines?

You'll probably get a good idea when I tell you that for almost two years after it's 2017 launch it held the record for the fastest lap by an SUV around the legendary German Nurburgring - covering the 12.9-mile circuit in 7 minutes 51.7 seconds.

Okay, a Mercedes may have since eclipsed that time and the Stelvio that did it might have been the bonkers £70,000 Quadrifoglio version - packing a 2.9-litre, 510ps V6 twin-turbo engine and 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds - but make no mistake, this is an SUV that is very much a driver's car.

The 2.2-litre diesel power pack beneath the expansive bonnet of our test vehicle seems quite modest by comparison to the Quadrifoglio but, kicking out 210ps it'll still propel the Stelvio from standstill to 62mph in a very brisk 6.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph.

Even more impressively it packs plenty of mid-range punch, reacting promptly to prods on the accelerator and making light of overtaking or pulling out quickly into gaps in traffic.

A 190ps version of the oil burner is also available as well as a 2.0-litre petrol engine in either 200 or 280ps flavours. All are similarly brisk and all are mated with a slick and unintrusive eight-speed automatic transmission.

It's not just the speed that makes the Stelvio such an engaging proposition to drive, though.

The sophisticated AlfaLink suspension, intelligent all wheel drive - standard on all but entry level diesel models - and lightweight construction mean it feels less cumbersome than many rivals as well as being incredibly nimble and agile.

Sharp, responsive steering offers good feedback and the car remains settled and glued to the road through bends, allowing the driver to push on confidently along winding country lanes.

Body roll in corners is pretty much non-existent as the even 50/50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles offers sports car-like balance.

Such control requires a fairly firm set up, and you will know when you're driving over some of our worst road surfaces, but the ride remains on the right side of comfortable, with the leather sports seats on our Milano Edizione model offering great support for the driver and front passenger.

With all this style and sportiness you might expect some compromises on the space and practicality you'd normally expect from an SUV with the Stelvio. In fact though, while it's far from the class leader, there's certainly enough room to cope with most needs.

You probably wouldn't want to carry three adults in the back on anything more than short trips but there's plenty of room for two to get comfortable on longer journeys, with ample storage and enough USB charging points to accommodate everyone's gadgets and gizmos.

The boot, at 525 litres, is also a good size and shape, with no load lip, and includes various hooks and tethering points as well as an automatic tailgate that's standard across the range.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Milano Edizione 2.2 Diesel 210

Price: £45,605

Mechanical: 210ps, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:130mph

0-62mph: 6.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 49.5

Insurance Group: 33

C02 emissions: 149g/km

Bik rating:37%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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