From EuroAutomobile comes the updated Alfa Romeo Stelvio, equipped with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Q4 all wheel drive, with a top speed of 283 km/h on the range topping 2.9 litre twin turbo V6 found on the Quadrifoglio variant.
Watch our full video review right here!
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The Alfa Romeo brand has always been the mystical creature in the automotive world. It is born from a heritage of Italian racing, and often captivates in its aesthetic. Seldom does an Alfa Romeo in the past, come along without controversy and polarisation. Ask different car enthusiasts, and they will each cite their own favourite Alfa Romeo cars from the past. Seldom will they all agree on one car. Over the years, some of these controversies and polarisations have taken on the form of unreliability, a reputation that has unfortunately stuck until today, much like the reputation that the DSG gearbox has built for Volkswagen. As such, the Alfa Romeo brand, in Singapore at least, is as they say - Owned by a few, loved by many.
As an previous owner of 2 MK6 Volkswagen Golfs, I can say with a certain degree of confidence, that the reliability issues with the DSG transmission was exaggerated and overplayed. True, there are many who suffered failures, but then again, there are also many who have not taken the time to care for their cars adequately. Personally, neither of my Golfs failed on me. And so, it begs the question, "Are Alfa Romeos really that unreliable"? The short answer is - No.
Aside from the Italian made engine and chassis of the Stelvio, most of the car is utilises the best parts from all around the world. Power is driven through to all four wheels via an 8 Speed ZF, the same wonderfully precise transmission found in most BMWs. The turbocharger is from Garrett Motion, a world leader in turbocharger technologies, and keeping the car cool is a Sanden compressor of Japanese origin. The list goes on, and I think you get the drift - with such an all star list of components from the most proficient manufacturers going into the Stelvio, it is probably just as reliable or unreliable as the next car, effectively establishing parity on this subject.
There is a "best of all worlds" notion with the Stelvio's equipment list, and I think that theme continues when you think about the real world usability of the car. You see, the Stelvio sits in the same size and price bracket as an Audi Q5, BMW X3, and the Jaguar F-Pace, and probably loses out to all of them in terms of boot space and perhaps rear legroom - yet is never impractical. It also isn't as cushy and comfortable as the competition either - yet it is never uncomfortable. Lastly, it is not as well put together as the competition, but it sure as hell does not look shabby. Where the Stelvio is undeniably superior however, is in its handling, and it is as sharp as a glass cutter. In fact, it is so good to handle that it might be even better than the Porsche Macan.
In the Super, the base base variant of the Stelvio, the sharp handling is attributed to the chassis, which is the same one you'll get on the range topping Quadrifoglio - thats because when Alfa Romeo set about designing the Stelvio, they built the Quadrifoglio first, before trickling down the best bits into the variants below, namely the Veloce, followed by the Super. As such, the Super presents extremely well developed driving dynamics, with the engine feeling firmly wound up, and revs with an assuring and satisfying purr that tell you that the car drivetrain on the car is something else. You know how kids imitate the revving noises in a car? - even the Stelvio Super sounds exactly like it. The brilliant thing about the engine and transmission set up is that you don't even need to drive very fast to extract this audible treat. Even at lower speeds of between 50 - 70 km/h, you are able to drop your gear through the fantastically large aluminium pedal shifters, and extract a low, deep, purr as the car surges forward. For the duration of my 3 day test drive, I spent most of my time in the car without the music on. In most other base variant SUVs, all you get is usually a profoundly disappointing lack of vocal range from the engine and exhausts.
While we're comparing the Stelvio to its competitors, it is also probably noteworthy that the 2 litre turbocharged power plant spits out 330Nm of torque, which isn't mind boggling, but is actually superior to most cars in its class, and genuinely feels like a proper driver's machine up at more elaborate speeds. Watching the Stelvio Super go through its paces, really does make you wonder what the Veloce would feel like to drive? For starters, the Veloce has more horsepower and more torque, despite using a similar 2 litre turbocharged engine. However, the Veloce also comes with equipped with adjustable suspension settings, allowing the car to better harness the car's power, through a stiffer suspension setup in dynamic mode, while also allowing the car to be more comfortable for day to day use in its comfort settings.
The difference between the Super and the Veloce may be approximately $40,000 or so, but I think it is totally worth biting the bullet and getting the Veloce. Aside from having more power and adjustments, the Veloce comes with forged engine parts, and a long long list of additional aesthetic upgrades. For example, the Veloce comes with a sunroof, leather stitched dashboard, sports seats, upgraded 20 inch wheels, anodised front and rear light assemblies, as well as body coloured cladding on around the wheel hubs, to name a few things. Plus, the adjustable suspension is going to prove lovely because as an SUV, I suppose you'd have some fatherly duties which involve the use of the backseats to carry passengers - the adjustable suspension would no doubt add value to the ride quality then.
At the end of the day, the Stelvio, whether the Super or Veloce, is a premium luxury SUV that has plenty of competitors in a fiercely contested segment - and by pretty legitimate contestants no less. To the uninitiated, it is easy to overlook the Stelvio for a more mainstream X3, Q5 or GLC, but while there is quite little to set these cars apart, it is clear the the Stelvio is the only one that prioritises the driver and the driving experience. Everything else compromises for its passengers. As a car that is owned by a few, but loved by many, it is difficult to say that the Stelvio is going to be better than its main competitors - but for sure, it is likely to be the most memorable.
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