Practical experience Alfa Romeo Stelvio: Giulia with space

‘I find what happens in D mode bizarre: the car turns into a kind of hot hatch!’

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 veloce

We recently listed user experiences with the Alfa Romeo Giulia in this section. That car turned out to be a hit and reliable too. It turned out not to be the most spacious car, but for that you have to switch to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. In this article we discover how they do it.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is in a hotly contested segment with a number of formidable premium competitors. Don’t expect sales figures that will go through the roof, but with 827 original Dutch copies delivered so far, the car is certainly not doing badly. It also appears to be a popular car for parallel import, so the total number of Stelvios in our country is now around 2,000.

The body may differ, but under the hood we find everything we know from the Giulia. Various 2.2 JTD diesels with between 150 and 220 hp, 2.0-liter turbo petrol engines with 200 or 280 hp and of course the 510 hp Stelvio Quadrifoglio with 2.9 V6. With the exception of a number of diesel versions, all Stelvios are four-wheel drive.

This is how a Stelvio drives

With the Alfa Giulia we started with the driving experience, as we often do with the typical driver’s car. The Stelvio made us hesitate for a moment, but in the end emotion won over reason. It turns out to be a good choice, because we are very enthusiastic. “Man, the handling is phenomenal!” writes a Stelvio 2.0T 200 hp AWD driver. “It’s unbelievable that you can round a corner so antisocially fast with such a high, large car. You have to experience it yourself to imagine it.” A 180 hp diesel also arouses enthusiasm. “It was and is a fantastic driver’s car. You can take corners really fast and it doesn’t make a sound,” writes his driver.

The owner of a Stelvio 2.0T 280 hp is also lyrical about the handling. “I’ve test driven everything, but nothing comes close. The directness of the steering is a treat, the handling is very convincing and the car is and remains seriously fast. Even after 100,000 km, the 0-100 is completed in 5.7 seconds.” The driver of a similarly equipped car likes to mention the effect of Alfa’s driving modes. “During normal use, the N position of the DNA button is the best,” he reports. “Just relax, but you can also cruise comfortably. The A mode is not about anything, but what happens in the D mode is bizarre to me: the car turns into some kind of hot hatch! As others have said, the car ‘shrinks around you’ and you forget you’re in an SUV. The engine responds very strongly to the gas and a winding road really becomes a party.”

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 JTD endurance test AutoBild

A diesel driver also likes to use the different driving modes. “I am seriously impressed by that DNA button,” he says. “From a lazy good guy to an eager asphalt eater in two clicks. It’s bizarre how the car transforms.” And about that driving? “What a bliss it is with this Stelvio. It tracks fantastically, the direct steering is exactly how I like it, without being too precise or too nervous. He takes corners with serious ease and he gives you confidence.”

Space and seating comfort

Now the practical part, because that should be the reason to choose a Stelvio instead of a Giulia. Yet few drivers speak out about the practical properties of their Alfa SUV, and that is probably good news. Two riders take the trouble to write down their experience.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 JTD endurance test AutoBild

“I don’t want to sell the Alfa short, but I was secretly hoping for a little more space in the back seat,” said a 2.0T 200 hp driver. “But I think that my frame of reference of the Skoda Superb and Tiguan Allspace may not be very ‘objective’ in this regard.” Compared to another popular model, the Alfa Romeo does score points. “It is certainly not bad and slightly better than the Lynk & Co 01. The luggage space is in any case significantly better than the Lynk, but it was also relatively small.” The footwell in the back also turns out to be smaller than expected. “What has a negative effect on space is that there is no large ‘box’ at the passenger seat. With every other car I know, you can stretch your legs there, just like with the driver.” Another rider reports the following about the trunk: “The luggage space is somewhat limited, but with measurements I could fit everything in for three people.”

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

We read varying stories about the chairs. Some people swear by sports seats, while others prefer the standard ones. “Setting a good seat position took a while, but was ultimately successful thanks to the extensive electric adjustment. I do recognize the criticism of the chairs, namely that the seat is a bit too short and the lateral support is limited. I would recommend everyone to try a model with the sports seats,” said the owner of a 2017 Stelvio First Edition.

An opposite reaction comes from a Stelvio Super rider. “I often read that people find the standard seats not optimal and prefer the sports seats. I didn’t want the sports seats because the higher side bolsters quickly show signs of wear due to getting in. In addition, these are the best car seats I know for my back.” So if you are in the market for a Stelvio, there is only one solution: extensive testing.

Infotainment and controls

When it comes to infotainment, the Stelvio stands alongside the most advanced systems in the market. Can he compete with that? “Okay, admittedly, Alfa is lagging behind competitors in terms of graphics and options,” says the driver of a Stelvio First Edition. “I think the lack of a touch function on the rotary pad as well as an app with which you can load addresses to the navi are the biggest misses, especially given the price segment in which the Stelvio operates. That said, the navi works very well and I actually think the 3D graphics are quite cool, just like the nice placement of the navi screen in the dashboard.”

“The multimedia part is indeed not the graphical top,” another Stelvio driver admits, “but it all functions fine and for me personally that is secondary to the driving. There are plenty of functions, although I know that our German colleagues are a step further.” Another driver is also clear. “Come on, I have a car to drive. If I want to look at a screen, I open my MacBook. It does what it’s supposed to do, period. I do not need more.”

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce

Maintenance, malfunctions and irritations

The owner of a car with almost 200,000 kilometers takes stock after 15,000 kilometers. “The Stelvio needed a major overhaul in July. The service itself was 850 euros, but it also came to light that there was a coolant leak from the radiator. Repair was not super necessary, but desirable. All in all, it was an intervention costing almost 2,000 euros.” Later he reports that the battery was also changed during this maintenance moment. “During the previous service, the battery was replaced because the rear window heating no longer worked. This appears to be a known Stelvio problem.” A second used buyer reports this problem after only 64,000 kilometers. “The problem with switching off the mirror and rear window heating when the battery voltage is too low is a sloppiness that Alfa does not solve. Too bad,” he writes in an otherwise very concise review.

Another driver also reached the limits of the battery and found his car ‘flat’ one morning. “But how come my battery was empty? I also received advice about this: there are small buttons on the door handles and you use them to lock the car. These little things sometimes want to get stuck and then they drain your battery. So from now on, just lock the car with the remote control.”

Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 JTD endurance test AutoBild

A diesel driver says that his Stelvio is certainly not a cheap car to maintain. “During the last service, the Stelvio turned out to fall into the X5 category in terms of maintenance,” he experiences. “New brake pads, oil and filters (he doubted whether the filter had been replaced during the first change, apparently hell of a job to be;ed.), good for 800-and-something euros.” There are also very positive voices. “This car performed perfectly in those 115,000 kilometers,” reports the driver of a 280 hp Stelvio AWD Super. “There has never been anything, no sign of wear, no hassle with electronics, let alone mechanical failure. The Stelvio is a very reliable companion.” Another 280 hp driver says goodbye to his car after four and a half years and more than 50,000 kilometers. “Reason for sale: a very nice Stelvio Quadrifoglio came my way with exactly the right specs. A very special car and I wanted a six-cylinder one before I entered the electric era.”

Drivers are not as lyrical about the Stelvio as they are about the Giulia, but drivers are still very enthusiastic about their Italian SUV. Judging from the reviews, it seems a little less trouble-free than its sedan brother, but a lot more usable. But the most important thing? Drivers still speak highly of the driving characteristics. This SUV also turns out to be a real Alfa.

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