Tuesday 3rd December 2019
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First drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.

First drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY)
Interior updates and a new sub-Quadri Veloce model only enhance the 2020MY Alfa Stelvio offering.

 



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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY)

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Like its saloon, Giorgio-based sibling, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Stelvio SUV gets a 2020 model year round of updates, as well as a new Veloce version to sit beneath the monster Quadrifoglio range-topper. Any good?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY)
Pricing: tbc; Stelvio 2020MY range expected to start from c.38,000
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: Q4 all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door SUV
CO2 emissions: 158g/km (VED Band 151-170: 530 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter, as Veloce list price likely to exceed 40,000 once confirmed)
Combined economy: 40.4mpg
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Power: 280hp at 5,250rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 2,250rpm
Boot space: 525-1,600 litres

What's this?

Alfa's mid-sized premium SUV contender, named after the famous pass of switchbacks which snakes up and over the Orlter Alps near Italy's border with Switzerland. Launched in 2016, Alfa Romeo's Stelvio has quickly won friends and influenced (some) people with its blend of cracking chassis dynamics, good looks and... a somewhat sub-par interior. But not to fear! This 2020MY update addresses precisely this last aspect of the SUV. Like the Giulia, the Stelvio has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearlever (both new!), fresh infotainment displays on an 8.8-inch touchscreen (not only are the graphics new, but the touch-sensitivity is also new!), a better rotary controller (yes, this is new!) on the transmission tunnel if you don't fancy grubbying up the dashboard display with greasy fingerprints, more storage space solutions and cupholders (all new!), a (new!) slot for wireless smartphone charging, a sharper seven-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster (guess what? This is new!), and more sound-deadening, revised steering, improved interior materials, the inclusion of a rear-view parking camera range-wide, bi-Xenon headlights as standard and additional advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) features to call upon (folks, all of these things are NEW!).

If we're overplaying this stuff, it's because - unless you're sitting in it - then it's difficult to spot what has changed with the Stelvio 2020MY. Unless, of course, you go for the new Veloce model. Up until now, while there have been Stelvios which used the 2.0-litre, 280hp/400Nm turbocharged petrol engine, there wasn't a direct analogue for the Giulia Veloce. But Milan has addressed that as part of these updates, bringing in the Stelvio Veloce with its tasteful body-coloured styling, some attractive 20-inch alloy wheels, Dark Miron exterior detailing and an interior enlivened not only by the 2020MY updates listed above, but also lashings of aluminium trim and part-leather, six-way-electrically-adjustable, heated sports seats. So it's the Stelvio Veloce we've chosen to drive here.

How does it drive?

Brilliantly, in that slightly madcap way the Stelvio always does. Some people don't get on with this Italian SUV's driving manners, because it is a hugely rear-biased all-wheel-drive platform it sits on. The Q4 nominally runs 100 per cent of torque to the back axle, only shifting up to half of the grunt forwards if it feels it needs to. This leads to an SUV that can feel quite spiky on first acquaintance, if you don't treat it to the right driving inputs; it's not a vehicle that is steadfast and resolute, like other AWD competitors in its class.

What it is, though, is more invigorating and rewarding to steer than any other SUV we can think of, including the Porsche Macan. Superb steering, strong brakes, the faultless eight-speed ZF slushbox, excellent damping control in the two-stage adjustable set-up that should be standard-fit on UK Veloces and the traction punch of the Q4 make it a delight to drive quickly, whereupon you'll be able to kick its back end out with ease, thanks to that glorious 2.0-litre drivetrain. Honestly, turbo four-pots are not usually particularly entertaining, but the 280hp unit in this Stelvio sounds fantastic, revs out smoothly and delivers a genuinely startling turn of pace in this big (yet relatively light, at 1,660kg) SUV - for instance, that 5.7-second 0-62mph time looks, if anything, to be a slightly cautious representation of what this Alfa is truly capable of. Furthermore, the bigger wheels on the Veloce provide more grip and an even sweeter balance, so when you do get either of under- or oversteer, you normally have to be going like a lunatic to make the Stelvio relinquish its grip on the asphalt.

And, like the Giulia 2020MY, it's now a more refined vehicle to travel in, for various reasons. The extra sound suppression improves upon the cushioned ride and decent mechanical smoothness that the Stelvio already possessed, so it cruises in serene fashion. It also simply feels better to just clamber aboard it, because the dash top and door cards are plush to the touch, the infotainment actually works how you want it to now and responds better to your inputs, you're not at risk of slicing your finger open on any sharp-edged plastics on the gearlever, and the instrument cluster looks up to snuff in a marketplace populated by the best of German, Swedish and Japanese competition. Top work, Alfa; top work.

Verdict

Overall, the on-the-face-of-it minimal changes to the 2020MY Alfa Romeo Stelvio add up to a quite considerable raft of improvements. The Italian SUV's main weakness, its sub-standard cabin, has been brought up to a level where it can stand comparison with most, but not quite all, of its rivals' interiors, while the UK range's new Veloce trim is a welcome introduction to a high-riding vehicle which has always felt sportier than most. If Alfa UK gets the pricing and specs right for the Stelvio 2020MY line-up, the revival of this revered marque should be well and truly on - and sales of Audis, BMWs, Jaguars, Lexuses, Mercs and Volvos might also take a hit, in the process.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 19 Nov 2019









  www.alfaromeo.co.uk    - Alfa Romeo road tests
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2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo.








 

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