The Alfa Romeo Stelvio makes the heart happy
Named after a mountain pass in Northern Italy, Alfa Romeo has graced us with the all-new and slightly revised Alfa Romeo Stelvio, offering it in the Veloce package.
Starting with the front-end design of the Italian beauty; she's a doll. It has three-by-three LED headlights, which are also adaptive to night-time driving situations. The bumper design embodies the style characteristics of its sibling, the Alfa Romeo Tonale and the 1960 SZ Zagato Sports car.
One can marvel at the gorgeous and curvy silhouette of the Stelvio. The 20-inch wheels with the classic Telephone dial pattern look iconic. Interestingly, they are Alfa Romeo's signature design.
Towards the back, it's rounded off well. It is one of the best-looking rear ends In the SUV business. With its sharp and dynamic taillights, the two-tip exhausts add a very aggressive look. An electronic tailgate operates the boot; opening up, you have 525 litres available, and with all the rear seats folding down, it frees you up to 1,600 litres.
The back seats offer ample room for occupants. It's straightforward: you have an armrest with two cup holders, two type C charging USB ports, and climate control actions.
Hopping Into the driver's seat, it has a rich blend of materials that will age well in time without looking outdated. Starting with premium leather seats, I like the sportiness blended with its comfiness. It's also heated and electrically adjustable for front occupants.
Behind the wheel, one feels excited staring at the Alfa Romeo badge; it has a three-spoke steering wheel with steel paddle shifters, which creates the mood and sets the right sporty tone.
As your eyes dart, you will see a digital cluster and an Infotainment screen next to It, which is Android and Apple Carplay friendly.
I'll be honest: trying to connect your phone seamlessly takes time. Some may have gripes, especially if you're tech-savvy. It also features an eight-speaker audio system, a wireless charger, type C and type A charging points in the middle armrest and climate control configurations.
It does come with a reverse camera and parking sensors; however, the reverse camera seems dated, and parking sensors do beep unnecessarily when manoeuvring in tricky situations.
Safety features include forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.
All these features come standard, and the only option for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce model is the sunroof, which is an additional R20,000. The expected price of the vehicle is R1,205,500, which includes a five-year/100,000km warranty and maintenance plan.
Regarding driving, the 2.0l turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine brings happiness to the heart. It has an exceptional feel.
Upon driving modes, you have D, which means Dynamic, N for Natural and A for Advanced Efficiency.
Advanced Efficiency is perfect if you're trying to conserve some fuel, and Dynamic brings the Stelvio to life.
Our tester returned an average consumption of 10.9l/100km if you're doing simple highway cruising, but spirited driving takes it to 13l/100km.
The Stelvio can accelerate from 0-100km/h in (5.7 seconds). It pushes out 206kW and 400Nm of torque; the power is transmitted to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
When putting the pedal to the metal, all the elements come together. The steering is light and easy to manoeuvre, and the turbocharger acoustics accompany the throaty sound of the engine.
Its responsiveness is truly impressive. However, the heaviness factor hinders the power a little, but it still feels solid all-in-all when pushing its weight around the corners, given that it's a big-bodied SUV.
Competition-wise, you have the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Porsche Macan, and Volvo XC60. But on looks alone, this is the best-looking SUV among its illustrious rivals.
Sales are a question, and sadly, the brand Alfa Romeo Is a little weak in its presence in the South African automotive market due to poor dealer networks and the depreciation aspect; however, when you see one on the roads, it's a sight to behold.
The Italian car manufacturers make soulful cars with that "special" feel. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is not perfect, but still, it's a beautiful testament to the Italian brand.