By Mike Torpey on 2020-10-24 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
2.2 Q4 Milano
YOU can tell a car company means business when it names its most important model after one of the most beautiful and engaging roads in Europe.
That was the case when Alfa Romeo launched the first SUV in the brand's history, the Stelvio.
Distinctly Italian with bulges in all the right places, the Stelvio draws its inspiration from the mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.
It conjures up images in the mind's eye of A-listers cruising slalom-style through the Alps en route to the swishest ski resorts.
Certainly this is a car to stir the emotions both inside and out in the way it looks and drives, offering the versatility of an SUV with the performance and handling of a sports saloon.
With so many SUVs and 4x4 looking predictably similar the Stelvio brings something refreshingly different from its chunky profile to its triple mesh grille set-up at the front and tailpipe at each corner in rear.
Inside, the cabin is smart and straightforward with a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel incorporating the Start/Stop button, while a fairly minimalist interior design means you aren't bombarded with buttons.
Those up front can enjoy large, comfortable leather sports seats and there's ample room for three across the back, including a flat, rather than perched, position in centre rear.
The lack of a traditional handbrake allows a deep central stowage box with lift-up lid to sit behind the slender eight-speed automatic gearshift, behind which is a large rotary switch for accessing the car's various functions and info along with a smaller switch either side - one for volume, the other for moving through Alfa's D, N and A (Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency) modes.
Oddments stowage is also well catered for, courtesy of four cupholders, bottle holders in all four doors plus a glovebox while a cavernous boot with sliding cover and securing rails (an £85 extra) can swallow a mountain of luggage or junk for the recycling centre.
Alfa Romeo's engines and driving dynamics are the essence of the brand's DNA and for the Stelvio there is a choice of powerful turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.
This 2.2-litre diesel variant, in upmarket Milano Edizione trim, also featured Alfa's Q4 traction set-up that monitors road grip and intervenes in a matter of milliseconds to ensure perfect torque distribution.
It is an ideal engine for the Stelvio, bringing a hefty 210bhp of wallop in propelling the car from zero to 62mph in 6.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 134mph, while returning an official average fuel figure of 43.5 miles per gallon.
Smooth ride quality, well balanced steering and a perfect 50/50 weight distribution also combine with various driver technologies to ensure an exhilarating drive experience.
Plenty of kit comes as standard, our tested model also benefiting from 20-inch Dark Petal alloy wheels with red brake callipers, leather seats, a Harman Kardon 11 speaker sound system, steering wheel paddles, electrically adjustable and heated front seats and a rear-view camera.
You also get autonomous emergency brake with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 Q4 Milano Edizione
Mechanical: 210bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 134mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 43.5
Insurance Group: 33
C02 emissions: 147g/km
Bik rating: 34%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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