ALFA Romeo came late to the SUV party, and was indeed among the last to arrive.

There’s nothing wrong with being a latecomer, of course, so long as you don’t disappoint by turning up with the equivalent of a bottle of brown ale when everyone was expecting champagne.

Reassuringly, the marque’s first production SUV in more than a century is something of a sparkler.

Priced from a very reasonable £33,990, the Stelvio is fitted with all-wheel drive as standard for starters, although there is a rear-wheel drive option.

It comes in four trim levels - Stelvio, Super, Speciale and Milano Edizione - and is offered with the choice of 2.2-litre 210hp, 190hp or 180hp diesel units or 2.0-litre 280hp or 200hp petrol engines.

That is unless you opt for the outrageous Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 Biturbo, which offers sports car acceleration of 0 to 62mph in a mere 3.8 seconds.

But here we are concentrating on the 2.2 D210 engine in the Milano trim, and with a sprint time of 6.6 seconds it is certainly no slouch itself and virtually matches that of the diesel Porsche Macan.

Key to the excellent driving qualities are Alfa’s sports-orientated suspension system, perfect weight distribution and an enviable power-to-weight ratio.

Couple this with the curvaceous design, the frugal engine and the quality of the finish both inside and out and you have a very impressive car that will cope with most requirements.

It’s an excellent combination of versatility and performance, boasting 525 litres of luggage capacity and room for lots more with the rear seats placed down.

The Stelvio, which takes its names from a mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland with 48 hairpins in succession, can boast at being the lightest mid-size SUV in the sector thanks to its lightweight body structure and carbon fibre driveshaft.

It stands out from the crowd thanks to its distinctive Italian design, expressed through its proportions and technical architecture, leaving the impression of sophisticated simplicity and quality surfaces, both inside and out

Standard specification for the Milano Edizione includes an 8.8-inch infotainment system with 3D navigation system and seven-inch TFT instrument cluster, a 10-speaker sound theatre, 20-inch V-Spoke alloy wheels, keyless entry, privacy glass with black gloss window surround, electrically adjustable and heated leather seats, rear-view camera, bi-xenon headlights, double chrome exhaust pipes, dual-zone climate control, Alfa DNA rotary driving mode selector, DAB plus Bluetooth/aux multimedia connectivity, front and rear USB ports, multi-function leather steering wheel and gear shift paddles.

With 50/50 weight distribution and a carbon fibre drive shaft, the Stelvio combines eye-catching Italian design with sporty dynamic performance and innovative advanced safety systems.

But it is the drive qualities that will prove the deal clincher. The tested diesel engine is a muscular unit that provides enough gusto in dynamic drive mode to make it a fun steer.

The interior materials do not match up to the likes of Audi or Range Rover offerings, but the seating is very comfortable and the cockpit-style cabin is easy to get around and contains key safety features such as emergency brake with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

I loved the driving position, the comfortable ride and the better than expected interior quality. But most of all I just thoroughly enjoyed driving it. Relaxing and even thrilling in equal measures, it surpassed my expectations in every area.

Welcome to the party, Stelvio.


Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 Turbo Diesel 210hp Q4 AWD Milano

Price: from £45,090 (Stelvio range from £33,990

Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel producing 210hp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 6.6 seconds; top speed 134mph

Economy: 49.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 149g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****