Alfa Romeo Stelvio Launch Event
Back in 2014, the arrival of the ground-breaking 4C finally realised Alfa Romeo’s potential to build a great car once again. Finally the world had been shown the driving spirit is still sparking in the belly of the massive Fiat Corporation, with fans finally getting their hands on an Alfa that matched the cars of old. But while a mid-engined baby supercar is great on paper, most of us in the real world lack the ability to adapt to the sparse practicality offered by a carbon-tubbed 4C.
Thankfully in 2015, Alfa unveiled the Giulia. The first rear wheel drive sedan offered from the Italian marque since the discontinuation of the Alfa 75. The Giulia is available in a whole host of trims, engines, colours and specs that will tickle the dickle of all Alfisti. The top dog is the Giulia Quadrifoglio or ‘QV’ for you Americans. A red-blooded Italian sports saloon powered by a twin turbocharged V6 potent enough to obliterate records at the Nurburgring and outsmart its German rivals on the autobahn.
So while the Giulia is the car us petrolheads have all been waiting for, it is far from Alfa’s most important model. You see the era of every driveway sporting a ‘Family Sedan’ is long gone. Sedans are now company uniforms or rentals. Replacing them is the new family vehicle, the SUV.
SUVs certainly aren’t new to the world, Toyota and Land Rover have been producing battle-hardened, go-anywhere monoliths since the 1950s, but in today's age, SUVs make up a huge portion of the market pie. Almost every automotive marque has had to flex its design wizardry and create something suitable for the modern family, but also resonate with its heritage. We may have Alfa Romeo back for now, but for the brand to be a real contender, it needed to make an SUV.
So how can a car company guided by its history of motorsport and racing heritage take a step back down the food chain to compete with glorified soft roaders? Well Alfa Romeo does what it does best, looks to its forefathers of speed and create yet another Nurburgring record breaker. Welcome to the Stelvio.
We had the lucky opportunity to witness the launch of Alfa’s new family hauler thanks to Barbagallo Perth. Held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, potential Stelvio buyers and Alfa Romeo enthusiasts alike were greeted at the door by a pair of Giulias and glass of Italian bubbly. Held in the main foyer of the exhibition building, the new Stelvio was covered by an authentically coloured Red Curtain.
The Stelvio you see here is the entry level model. Available in either 2.0L turbocharged petrol (147kW/330Nm) or a 2.2L turbocharged diesel (154kW/470Nm). These cars sit around the price tag of the Discovery Sport, Audi Q5, Jaguar E-Pace and the BMW X3. Don't be disparaged by the small engine selection as these two powertrains are set to be potent enough to move you and your kids from 0-100kmh in under 7 seconds. If you’re wanting a bit more sportiness than the already tuned ride, the Stelvio is available with an optional Veloce Pack, which comes with a range of sportier trim bits but more importantly Koni Frequency-selective dampers improving the vehicles road handling and roll.
If the Veloce Pack isn't quite enough chilli for your curry, then Alfa Romeo also has a solution with its Stelvio QV. This absolute maniac of a vehicle possesses the same 2.9L twin turbo V6 found in the Guilia QV but this time sending power to all four wheels through Alfa’s Q4 AWD System. In a nutshell, the Stelvio QV takes the idea of the family SUV, throws it away and then sends it down the Nurburgring a whole 8 seconds faster than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.
The Stelvio shares the same platform and construction as the Giulia, but where it differs is in the handling, tuning and of course the shape. I think it is a handsome thing, an Alfa Romeo SUV certainly sounds dreary on paper, but in the presence of the Milan built wagon, I don’t see it as fat older sibling to the slender sedan. Its lines are smooth, subtle and uniform with the brands new image. Its aggressive and masculine in the front end, yet flows with curves into a more feminine rear.
The interior carries over much of the same Giulia technology and layout with even the base model having nice materials and feel. It isn't classic Italian with equipped with 20L ash tray and slippery vinyl seats, nor does it feel like it’ll fall apart. Alfa’s new benchmark for quality is on par with the Germans yet still has that signature zing that the italians are so well known for. There are a few hard plastics here and there, and being a taller lad, I found the cabin a little cramped, but overall the Stelvio is a very presentable and well thought-out car with some beautiful materials.
So do I think Alfa Romeo have pulled it off? For now I can't answer that, Alfa Romeo’s are about feel and experience. And for that, we need to drive one...