It’s an outstanding pass for the Stelvio

It’s an outstanding pass for the Stelvio

Our Stelvio Milano 2.2d turned a year old recently and was dutifully left into Donnelly’s for its first service. I struck it lucky with the courtesy car as Drew McVeigh kindly lent me his daily driver – a 2020 model Stelvio Veloce – a 280bhp petrol version. I was interested as to how it would compare to our diesel and to see for myself the changes and improvements that Alfa had made to the 2020 model.  The car that I would be driving for a few days was Misano Blue and it looked very purposeful with its dark wheels and black badging and accessories.

Alfa has left the Stelvio’s handsome looks alone for the 2020 model year update, wisely deciding that the SUV was striking enough as it was. It’s not the prettiest Alfa that’s ever lived, but as far as mid-sized, premium SUVs go, the Stelvio is a bit of a looker and will win a beauty competition over any of its rivals. This Veloce model uses the 280hp turbocharged petrol 2.0-litre engine from the Giulia Veloce, which has been available in the Stelvio prior to this under different names (such as Edizione Milano or the Ti). Alfa has now added body-coloured styling right down to the skirts and as part of the wider fettling of the Stelvio family all models now gain the 8.8-inch touch-sensitive infotainment with sharper graphics, the finer seven-inch TFT display in the instrument cluster, a new leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever combination, better interior storage solutions with a neatly integrated smartphone wireless charging pad for good measure. There is extra sound suppression too in the passenger compartment, revised steering and a general sense that the Alfa’s cabin is now far more comparable to those found in and amongst its peers.

The Veloce is definitely fun to drive. All Stelvios drive brilliantly, as far as SUVs go, but some are more equal than others and the Veloce is definitely in the latter category. The 280hp unit is a gem no matter which Alfa it is installed in and, as the car only weighs 1,660kg in this trim properly  you can marvel at its balance, its feeling of rear-led agility and the lovely 2.0-litre engine. My only slight criticism is that I wish the engine noise was a bit rortier  – a 4 cylinder unit will never sound as well as the likes of the glorious Busso 3.2 V6 but I think the sound track could be improved so that the car sounds like it goes.

It’s the quality and refinement gains that I think will please most people who might – prior to now – have considered an Alfa as a viable option were it not for the slightly below par interior compared to its German rivals.  The cabin feels of a higher standard throughout complete with leather stitched dash tops and door cards (a desirable  option that we have on our car) and the steering wheel and gear lever are both tactile delights, while the digital displays are crisp, clear and concise. But all this excellent cabin dressing is as nothing compared to the ride quality and noise suppression, which are both now amongst the best in this class.

It is a thorough pleasure to cruise in the Stelvio. It still drives with verve and the tweaks and improvements that Alfa have introduced simply make a very good car even better.  So would I swap a 280bhp petrol Veloce for my 210bhp diesel Milano? (although mine is adorned with Veloce badges) – yes probably but it is definitely a costlier option to run as the petrol is considerably thirstier than the diesel, especially if you decide to test the car’s abilities and take it for a spirited drive (or as is sometimes said – if you drive it like you stole it!).

The Stelvio is definitely a head turner in this class and in terms of cost compared to some of its toughest German rivals it does appear to be a bit of a bargain. As they say live is too short to drive boring cars – there may be plenty of boring SUV s around but this is definitely not one of them.


Tim Logan
Club Chairman