New Kid on the Block Ruffles Feathers: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti AWD
Driving an Alfa Romeo is almost like a rite of passage. You don’t just wake up one day wanting an Alfa Romeo. No. It’s like your first crush that you can’t get out of your head. There is a desire, a lust. A near obsession. What’s one step short of crazy? Passionate. That’s what driving an Alfa Romeo is like.
Named after the famous Italian Stelvio pass in northern Italy, Alfa’s cute-ute crossover carries a very serious name plate and requires some unique engineering to live up to its heritage. All Stelvio’s come standard with an authoritative 280-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine matched with an aggressive, quick-shifting dual-clutch 8-speed automatic. With power driven to all four wheels, the Stelvio is quick on its feet laying down 0-60 in 5.5 seconds soaring up to a governed 144 mph.
Alfa Romeo is all about the passion for driving and their D-N-A drive mode is more than just a clever play on acronyms but rather their performance and chassis demeanor. D for Dynamic is where the experience becomes most intoxicated adjusting everything to its sportiest pedigree. The Stelvio is already a well-engineered crossover with sharp transmission response, positive steering attributes and a confident suspension. However, once that rotary knobs clicks into ‘D’ mode everything changes. The dynamics of the Stelvio’s attributes intensifies with increased throttle responsiveness, sharper steering sensitivity and the gear box switches gears as quick as a formula one race car through the substantially large magnesium paddle shifters.
The Stelvio expresses a new side to the crossover world than we could have ever imagined. The all-wheel drive system plays a crucial part in the balance and precision of handling. Every corner the Stelvio pushes itself through controlling its desire to oversteer. The transmission is always on point leaving the turbo to working at its peak performance without skipping a beat. And those massive brakes… they’re not there just to look pretty, the Stelvio massive braking power demands a skilled driver to push it to its limits.
Everything about the Stelvio demands more. The harder it’s pushed, the more it demands. The suspension system, while absorbing most of the roads imperfections maintained body roll through the corners. We could feel the suspension working and preparing as the tires just kept gripping the asphalt like bees trapped in honey.
While not every commute to work has a mountain pass, the Stelvio upholds a premium assertiveness. It handles the bumps with ease – the steering is light and nimble under normal driving conditions. And while we managed to exceed 30 mpg on the highway, our total 22 mpg combined fuel economy resulted over 500 miles on a single tank of premium fuel – which is acceptable in our book considering its performance tendencies.
However, there is a drawback to owning an Alfa Romeo. Being a product of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), the Stelvio may uphold a premium crossover price tag, but its price more exuberates its performance capabilities rather than its interior quality. While the Stelvio provides a well-executed, ergonomics design, its quality is that of a simple Chrysler product. Cheap plastics filled the interior like an early 90’s space shuttle and we’ve seen butter quality tactile buttons on a Fisher Price toy. Even the upgraded $900 Harman Kardon premium audio system exhibited odd speaker popping sounds. Not to worry though, if you like being on an airplane, than one would enjoy the obnoxious loud seat belt bong thats remanence an American Airlines fasten seat belt warning sign.
Granted though, the sport leather seats coddle us like a bug in rug providing the utmost comfort and support during our 800 miles of testing. The rear seats are able to fit a full size adult with lateral thigh support and can fold flat in a 60/40 fashion. And the infotainment system doesn’t feature the latest Apple CarPlay or Andriod Auto Connectivity, it is is relatively easy to navigate and use on the go.
Being the new kid on the block, Alfa has some pretty big steps to follow in. Considering companies like Audi and BMW have a serious brand loyalty – it’s going to take a lot more than its charming good looks for consumers to drive past the pesky German dealerships and onto Alfa’s lot. But just 5 minutes behind the wheel, and you’ll be like us, smitten, lusting after it like a 9th grader pining after a cheerleader. They’ll have to pry us out of the seat before we give it back.
|2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD:||$43,995|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$54,090|
|2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder – 280-Horsepower, 8-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±5.5 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 22/28/24 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 22 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±500 Miles|
If D is for Dynamic, what are N and A? This is a great ride and definitely a exclusive and unique vehicle out on the roadways today. If Alfa could address some of the noted fit & finish issues, I think this one shapes up to be a highly competitive candidate in its segment.
As you would guess N is for Normal. But A, well thats for Advance Efficiency.