Alfa Romeo Stelvio review

Category: Family SUV

There are better all rounders, but there is a strong chance you’ll absolutely love this Italian SUV.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior dashboard
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior back seats
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior infotainment
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right static
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear left static
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio headlights
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior front seats
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio kickplate detail
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior detail
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio boot open
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior dashboard
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior back seats
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior infotainment
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front driving
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear cornering
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio front right static
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear left static
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio headlights
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior front seats
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio kickplate detail
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior detail
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Most SUVs quietly ignore the fact that the 'S' stands for ‘sportiness’, but you better believe the designers of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio take the word very seriously indeed.

And you have to become a believer too when you find out that the range-topping Stelvio Quadrifoglio (which has its own separate review) comes with a Ferrari-sourced V6 petrol engine, along with beefed-up suspension and brakes.

Here, though, we're looking at the rest of the Stelvio range, tackling the more affordable and sensible petrol and diesel options, and addressing the all-important ‘U’ for ‘utility’.

Since the Stelvio's launch, Alfa Romeo has tweaked the model here and there to keep it fresh, giving it updated styling and improved interior quality. It also has revised engine options so it can compete at the sportier end of the family SUV class. Indeed, the 280 Veloce uses a 276bhp petrol that’s built at the same engine factory as the Ferrari V6.

So is that enough to make it the complete package, and is it more than just a pretty face? Well, we've drive the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and over the next few pages of this review we'll tell you what its performance is like, how spacious it is, which trim level we reckon gives you the best value for money and more.

We'll also give it ratings in all those areas and compare it with other models you might be considering. After all, the main rivals include some impressive cars, including the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Jaguar F-Pace and the Porsche Macan.

Once you’ve decided whether the Stelvio or another model is the right car for you, you can make sure you're getting it for the lowest price by searching our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. It's a good place to find the best new large SUV deals.

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

When picking an engine for your Alfa Romeo Stelvio, we suggest going with the 2.2-litre diesel. With 207bhp, it’s responsive from low revs and pulls throughout the whole rev range, whisking you up to motorway speeds with ease.

There’s also a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol (badged 2.0 Turbo Petrol 280) with  276bhp. It powers the Stelvio from 0-62mph in just 5.7sec but needs to be worked hard to show its true muscle. As a result, it doesn’t feel as quick as the on-paper numbers suggest, and that detracts from the feeling of sportiness. 

However, it’s a different story entirely if you’re considering the other petrol engine: a stonking 503bhp 2.9-litre V6 that’s fitted exclusively to the performance-focused range-topper. If that tickles your fancy, see our Stelvio Quadrifoglio (QV) review.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio image
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Suspension and ride comfort

The Stelvio has been designed to out-handle the opposition, and that means it has a rather firm ride. That’s not to say that it bangs over potholes or big road imperfections, but it does feel quite unsettled at low speeds, jostling you around in your seat. At higher speeds, the sports-orientated suspension set-up is better, dealing with crests and compressions with a fluency and finesse that's usually reserved for the best sports saloons.

Despite that, rival family SUVs offer better ride comfort overall. The BMW X3 is firmer but more controlled, while the Audi Q5 can glide over surfaces that would unsettle the Stelvio. The top-spec Estrema model gets adaptive suspension that should allow you to soften things up to make it more comfortable when the road gets rough, although we’ve yet to try a Stelvio in that configuration.

We advise, though, that you stick with the 19in alloy wheels that come as standard with Sprint trim because they give the best ride possible. Veloce trim gets larger 20in alloys as standard, and they make the ride slightly worse. We’d definitely avoid the optional 21in alloy wheels.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear cornering

Handling

This is where the Stelvio really shines. Like the Alfa Romeo Giulia it's based on, it has remarkably direct steering, and you have to turn the wheel very little to negotiate tight corners. The steering is also light, and it rewards those with a smooth touch.

Once you’re used to not being ham-fisted at the helm, and dial yourself into making measured adjustments, it’s easy to place the car’s nose where you want it. Combine that with the stiff suspension and plenty of front-end grip, and you have an SUV that goes round corners with more enthusiasm than many saloon cars.

The Porsche Macan is the best in class in this area, but the Stelvio is as rewarding to drive as the impressive Audi Q5 and BMW X3, and is much more agile than the Volvo XC60. As for the Stelvio QV, it's one of the best handling sports SUVs you can buy.

Noise and vibration

If you take the 2.0-litre petrol engine near its rev limiter, it develops a slightly raspy tone, but when you’re driving it normally, it's pretty unremarkable.

With the diesel, you’re always aware of that gritty dirge that traditionally blights cars fuelled from the black pump – the diesels available in the Q5 and X3 are far more refined. Road noise is more obtrusive in the Stelvio than it is in the Q5 too, and the mirrors whip up some wind noise around the front pillars. 

Every Stelvio has an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Unlike the slightly hesitant gearbox in the Q5, it reacts more immediately when you’re on the move and want a sudden burst of acceleration. You can alter the urgency of its gearshift through the driving mode selector in the centre console (Dynamic is the sportiest mode). It can feel a little jerky on downshifts at lower speeds, though.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

Finding your perfect driving position in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is easy because the driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment. If you go for Sprint trim, you’ll have to set it manually, but Veloce gives you electric adjustment and adjustable lumbar support. Steering-wheel adjustment isn’t quite as good, with plenty of rake adjustment but limited reach adjustment. 

Sitting behind the slim steering wheel, you’ll find a rich 12.3-inch digital dash panel. It’s not as customisable as the brilliant Virtual Cockpit in the Audi Q5 but can be switched between three different layouts: Evolved, Relax and Heritage, each placing more or less emphasis on particular driving instruments.

Everything on the dashboard has been sensibly positioned, with all the relevant knobs and buttons housed exactly where you’d expect. You even get physical controls for the air conditioning, which are much easier to use on the move than the digital ones you’ll find in the Volvo XC60.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

You sit quite high above the road in the Stelvio, but the thick windscreen pillars mean that visibility at junctions isn’t great, making it a bit of a challenge when pulling out. 

Likewise, your view rearwards is restricted by thick pillars and isn’t helped by the narrow rear window. As a result, over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t great and reversing can be a little tricky. 

Fortunately, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera are standard on all trims. You also get adaptive matrix LED headlights as standard that bend their light around approaching vehicles, which in turn allows you to leave your high beams on.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Every Stelvio has an 8.8in infotainment screen that you can control by touching the screen or by using a rotary dial mounted between the front seats. That means it's easier (and safer) to use when you're driving than the touchscreen-only systems in the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60.

The screen has quite a simple set-up, with a widget-style layout. However, the graphics are quite grainy and it’s still not swish enough to pull you away from plugging in your smartphone to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay (included as standard). The BMW X3 – which also uses a rotary dial controller, but has much sharper graphics – remains the class leader here.

If you’re into your music, you might want to go for Veloce trim as it gives you the option of upgrading the standard eight-speaker stereo to a 900W Harman Kardon system with 14 speakers and a subwoofer. It’s available as part of a pack that, along with the much better sound quality, also adds a plush leather dashboard. This pack comes as standard on range-topping Competizione models.

Quality

Interior finish has always been a bit of a sticking point with Alfa Romeo. While the interior may generally look good, the buttons and dials you touch on the centre console feel a bit loose, and the materials they're made of feel pretty cheap.

The tops of the dash and door cards use plenty of soft-touch materials, but the grain puts you in mind of an elephant’s bum, rather than a premium material befitting a large SUV. It badly needs the extended leather pack to be standard because it falls well short of class standards without it. Shame, really, because the standard-fit steering column-mounted aluminium paddle feel of extremely high quality.

All in all, the Stelvio still can’t match the outright quality of its German rivals (the Q5, X3 and Macan), which excel in this area.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a pretty big vehicle and that's good news for front-seat occupants. There’s plenty of head room even for taller drivers and the seat goes back far enough for the longest of legs. It’s also wide enough to ensure you won’t be rubbing elbows with your passenger.

You’ll also find a decent amount of storage up front, with door pockets that can hold a bottle of water and other assorted items, and a space in front of the gear selector where you’ll find a couple of cupholders plus a 12V socket and USB port. There’s also plenty of storage under the centre armrest, including a wireless phone-charger as standard.

Rear space

A six-footer will fit in the back seat behind a driver of similar height, but their knees will be very close to the front seats. 

The Stelvio's curved roofline eats into rear head room, but four adults of average height should be able to get comfy. If rear space is a priority, you’ll find more in the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Volvo XC60.

As for storage, the rear door pockets are smaller, but you can still get a small bottle of water in there. You also get a pair of cupholders in the rear armrest and a couple of USB sockets between the front seats.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior back seats

Seat folding and flexibility

Unlike some family SUVs the Stelvio doesn’t offer rear seats that recline or slide backwards and forwards. They do split and fold in 40/20/40 segments though, which is much more flexible than the 60/40 arrangement in the XC60. 

What’s more, you get handy levers in the boot to fold the rear seats down without needing to open a side door. Once they’re down, the seat backs lay flat enough that there isn’t a step in the extended boot floor.

Boot space

At 525 litres, the Stelvio boot volume trumps the XC60's but isn’t spectacular compared with other cars in the class, failing to match the Q5, the X3 and the Jaguar F-Pace. Even so, in the real world, it’ll be enough to easily swallow a good bulk buy from a supermarket.

The load area itself is a usefully square shape with no internal load lip but it’s a shame there aren’t more hooks for bags, or eyelets to hold loads down. It could also do with being wider and not having a large, exposed speaker taking up space, because both hinder the loading of a folder child’s pushchair or a set of golf clubs.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As a cash purchase, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is priced similarly to the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. There are also generous discounts available from dealers, as well as through our hassle-free New Car Deals service

The Stelvio is not expected to hold on to its value as well as those rivals over three years, though, and with no hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in the Stelvio range, it won't be particularly cost-effective to run as a company car.

Like its conventional petrol and diesel rivals, the Stelvio will sit in the higher benefit-in-kind tax brackets. Its official fuel economy is similar to that of equivalent versions of rivals.

Equipment, options and extras

Keeping things simple, you only have three trims to choose from: Sprint, Veloce and rang-topping Competizione. Entry-level Sprint gives you plenty of standard equipment, including 19in alloy wheels, active cruise control, automatic headlights and automatic high beam, heated washer jets, automatic windscreen wipers, a leather steering wheel, and gearstick and aluminium gearshift paddles. It’s so well specified, we reckon it’s the pick of the range.

Mid-spec Veloce also represents good value for money as you get 20in alloy wheels, electric seat adjustment for the driver and front-seat passenger, sportier exterior styling, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, sports leather seats and a limited-slip differential. 

Competizione adds 21in wheels with adaptive suspension, a Harman Kardon sound system, a leather-wrapped dashboard and the option of ‘matt Moonlight Grey paint’.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio interior infotainment

Reliability

The Stelvio did rather well in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey, gaining sixth place out of 32 large SUVs. It’s a different story for Alfa Romeo as a brand, though: it finished in 29th place out of the 32 car makers featured.

You’ll get some peace of mind from Alfa Romeo’s three-year warranty with unlimited mileage, but that duration is fairly standard among family SUVs.

Safety and security

The Stelvio scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests, as most of its rivals did. Impressively, it outscored the Audi Q5 for adult occupant protection, but the Q5 was rated better at protecting child occupants. The Volvo XC60 remains the safer option, with higher individual test scores.

Every Stelvio comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, and lane-keeping assistance, but you’ll need the Driver Assist package if you want blind-spot monitoring, traffic-sign recognition and a driver attention warning system.

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FAQs

  • Alfa Romeo might not be renowned for its reliability as a brand, but the Stelvio did rather well in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey gaining sixth place out of 32 large SUVs.

  • No, but the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (QV) has 503bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 3.8sec so it certainly has the pace to worry supercars.

  • As a cash purchase, the Stelvio is priced similarly to the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Land Rover Discovery Sport but its residual values are relatively poor. You can check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £4,819
Target Price from £43,090
Save up to £4,819
or from £460pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £43,898
RRP price range £45,630 - £91,835
Number of trims (see all)5
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel
MPG range across all versions 23.9 - 46.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £3,232 / £6,589
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £6,465 / £13,177
Available colours