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First drive: 2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.

First drive: 2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Alfa Romeo’s biggest SUV has had a little refresh for 2023, but will that be enough to keep pace with its rivals?


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2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio arrived on a wave of expectation. Following on from the brilliant Giulia, it was meant to be the SUV that brought Alfa back to the big time, but a string of issues, including a low-rent cabin, prevented it from gaining real traction. Over the years, though, it has been honed and improved, with the latest update providing new tech and a revamped front end. Has that finally put the Stelvio up there with the best of them?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 280 Q4 Veloce
Pricing: £56,740 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 192g/km
Combined economy: 33.2mpg
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Power: 280hp
Torque: 400Nm
Boot space: 525 litres


As with the updated Giulia, Alfa Romeo really has done very little to the Stelvio's design, but that's no bad thing. The Stelvio was already one of the better-looking premium SUVs on the market, and Alfa has done nothing to harm that position. A very light touch means there are new headlights with a three-part daytime running light signature, and a lightly revamped front grille. Most won't notice the difference, but the new lights make the car look slightly more modern, if nothing else.


There was a time when the interior was the Stelvio’s real weakness, but a mid-life refresh a few years ago took some of the edge off that particular issue. Better cabin plastics and a revamped touchscreen improved things, but Alfa has gone a step further with this latest update, fitting a new digital instrument cluster taken from the Tonale.

In truth, the new display isn’t all that impressive on its own – it’s clear and bright and sharp enough, but it doesn’t do anything as special as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit or BMW’s latest curved display. That said, it lifts the Stelvio’s interior a little, and makes it feel more modern than those old analogue dials ever did.

However, while the Stelvio’s cabin looks good enough and generally feels decent, there are aspects that feel a little olde worlde alongside more modern rivals. Take, for example, the plasticky buttons on the steering wheel or the chunky but slightly cheap climate control dials. It just isn’t quite as premium as a modern BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

But the bigger issue is the touchscreen, which is feeling its age now. Although it has plenty of functionality and you can use the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration technology to great effect, it just doesn’t have the polish of newer systems. And it isn’t like Alfa didn’t have one available – the Tonale’s touchscreen is imperfect but it’s a vast improvement on the Stelvio’s – yet the company chose not to integrate it.


Space in the Stelvio is pretty competitive, and it should have no trouble at all when it comes to dealing with family life. Space is ample for adults in both the front and rear seats, while the 525-litre boot is more than sufficient. It's roughly the same amount of space as you'll get from anything else in this class, and it's a useful shape, which means it should take pretty much anything you care to throw in.


Stelvio customers get a straight choice of two different engines, with a 2.2-litre diesel joined by a 2.0-litre petrol engine. The high-performance Quadrifoglio will get the same updates, but that car is so dramatically different it'll doubtless get its own review. For now, then, it's a straight choice between an economical 210hp diesel that manages 45mpg and 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, or a 280hp petrol that's slightly faster, but noticeably less efficient.

We tested the petrol version, which joins the diesel in having all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. That means you get a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 143mph, but it'll only do 33.2mpg. Nevertheless, it's more than punchy enough and until you really wring the engine out, it sounds pretty good, too.

All-wheel-drive adds some all-weather security, but the unsung hero of the piece is the gearbox, which is remarkably slick and smooth, even in the more aggressive Dynamic mode. That said, we'd stick with the Normal setting, which is a little less rowdy, and use the paddles behind the wheel if and when we wanted a bit more involvement.

Ride & Handling

The Stelvio has long been considered among the best-handling SUVs on the market, and with the new model, Alfa Romeo has done nothing to jeopardise that position. The Stelvio has exactly the same suspension and running gear as before, and that leaves it feeling just as light on its feet. The steering is still a bit numb, which is a shame, but the car corners swiftly and has plenty of grip.

Perhaps it doesn't ride as well as some of the best cars in the class, but that's a small price to pay when the handling is so impressive. While it isn't quite as fast to respond as the Giulia, it's still very good by 4x4 standards, and the ride is at least mature, even if it isn't especially smooth until you get up to motorway speeds.

It has a modicum of off-road ability, too, with plenty of driver aids and all-wheel drive to help the car keep going where others might falter. Specify some good all-season tyres and there will be very few places where the Stelvio will struggle.


The Stelvio range starts at £47,255 for the 210hp diesel 'Sprint' variant, which means the cheapest Stelvio costs almost exactly the same amount as the cheapest BMW X3. But with 210hp as standard and an efficient diesel engine on board, that isn't bad value at all. Especially when all Stelvios come with satellite navigation, part-leather upholstery and the digital instrument display, not to mention wireless phone charging and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration technology.


The Stelvio is still one of the best cars in its class when it comes to looks and handling, but it's still let down slightly by its interior. The latest batch of improvements have helped, but without a new touchscreen it still lags behind the BMW X3 and Porsche Macan at the top of this competitive market.

James Fossdyke - 3 May 2023    - Alfa Romeo road tests
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2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.

2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Image by Alfa Romeo.


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