Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio SUV is one of few that can claim to have put the Sports into Sports Utility Vehicle.
Taking its name from the legendary Stelvio Pass linking Italy to Switzerland with 48 hairpins in quick succession, it leaves you in little doubt as to how Alfa’s latest creation is intended to perform.
And perform it does, remarkably managing to deliver the versatility of an SUV while delivering the performance and agility of a sports saloon.
Similar in size to Jaguar’s F-Pace, BMW’s X3 and Audi’s Q5, the Italian beats them hands-down on style, flair and visual appeal.
Buyers can choose from 200hp or 280hp turbo petrol, or either 190hp or 210hp turbo diesel. Those with a less restricted budget can choose their Stelvio in Quadrifoglio spec with 510hp 2.9-litre V6 twin turbo petrol power.
We tried the 210hp diesel in Milano Edizione specification. It wears a £44,000 starting price, and rises to £46,760 as tested, mostly as a result of the Trofeo White tri-coat paint which adds £1,950 to the price. Alfa Red is a no-cost finish, and the range starts from £36,000.
With sharp driving dynamics, practicality and a premium image, it takes just 30 seconds behind the wheel to appreciate the responsive, quick steering. And backing it up is plenty of grip, and not as much body roll as you would expect.
So where in the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) Group has it comes from? It is based exclusively on Alfa Romeo’s Giulia saloon, and is not shared elsewhere with the group’s other brands.
An eight-speed ZF auto-box glides through the ratios on 470Nm of torque, which shoves the 210hp Stelvio to 60mph in just 6.6 seconds. It is keen for a four-pot diesel, though an amusing DNA driving mode selector can temper its ability when you choose N and eco-friendlier A modes.
A 1,660kg kerb weight helps its agility, and does not impact on towing ability.
Q4 all-wheel drive system sends 100 per cent of torque to the rear axle under normal conditions, with a 50 per cent shift to the front axle when slippage is detected.