Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce review: A symphony of performance and personality

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce review: A symphony of performance and personality
PHOTO: Motorist

The facelifted Alfa Romeo Stelvio has been updated with new quality of life features and a refreshed look to bring it up to speed with its competitors. That's not to say that they've done away with the quirks though. 

There's just something about an Alfa Romeo, isn't there. The name alone exudes a sense of excitement in car enthusiasts of all ages. It's a brand steeped in history and bathed in pedigree, a brand that many refer to as the true embodiment of what it means to be an automotive enthusiast. 

To start with my theory on why that is, we're looking at this refreshed Alfa Romeo Stelvio. This is the Veloce trim with the 2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged engine and not the souped up (and expensive) Quadrifoglio variant.

Granted, the powertrain still pushes out very decent performance with 280hp and 400Nm of torque getting sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Even though this is the mass-market model and not the crazy high-performance one, it will still do 0-100km/h in a very respectable 5.7 seconds. 

Although this is just the Stelvio marketed to the general public, there is a sense that all of Alfa Romeo's vehicle building know-how has trickled down into this "normal" model. The driving dynamics are extremely sound for what is essentially a normal SUV. The steering is light and beautifully direct, I've always loved how Alfa Romeo have bucked the trend of having heavy but dead feeling steering.

Instead, the steering in the Stelvio is free yet communicative, you don't feel like you have to hustle the Stelvio into corners. You can feed in the steering with confidence and minimal effort. The suspension is pliable, managing the body roll so well for an SUV, giving you an agility in the handling that belies the Stelvio's stature. 

As a result, the handling is predictable and gives you confidence to harry the Stelvio through the twisties. The brakes could be stronger but the feel of them is brilliant even though it's an entirely drive-by-wire system that Alfa Romeo calls "IBS" (hehe). The Stelvio is well-balanced, with its 50:50 weight distribution playing a leading role in enabling that remarkably good road-holding. 

But above all, driving the Stelvio is an experience. The massive aluminium shift paddles make every gear change an occasion. It's gloriously clicky and the metal is always cold to the touch giving you that sensory delight every time you go to upshift or downshift. Having driving dynamics this good on a "normal" SUV gives you a sense of satisfaction with your purchase by giving you that extra validation that you bought something special.

And that's what Alfa Romeo does really well, it makes you feel like you're driving something special even when perhaps on paper, it isn't. You don't buy an Alfa Romeo because it's got adaptive cruise control or Apple CarPlay or new fancy Matrix headlights. Sure it's got all of those things anyway which is nice but you buy an Alfa Romeo because it's an Alfa Romeo. There's a personality in their cars that is becoming increasingly hard to find these days. 

Part of this is down to the famous Alfa Romeo quirks, which this car also has. For example, the sound when you signal right is different from the sound when you signal left, you also can't perform more than one adjustment through the infotainment system at a time like changing the volume and scrolling through the menu. The gauge cluster also has some numbers in the speedo and tac' that are inverted to hark back to the Alfas of the 60s and 70s. 

These are the little quibbles that make Alfas imperfect and you know what? That's okay. Too many cars today are mere machines. I'm a firm believer that cars have souls but that soul is just not easily found in most cars anymore.

Not in the case of the Stelvio, or indeed any other Alfa Romeo that I've driven. This car is bursting with personality and this is what I believe cars are all about. They're not just tools to get you from A to B, they're an expression of your personality and an extension of yourself. And no brand exudes personality as much as Alfa Romeo. 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce
Price (at time of publishing): $349,888 including COE  VES Band: C2

Engine:
Turbocharged 4-cylinder

Capacity:
1,995 cc

Power & Torque:
280 hp @ 5,250 rpm &
400 Nm @ 2,250 rpm

 Transmission:
8-speed ZF Automatic

Driven Wheels:
All

Consumption:
11 km/L

0-100 km/h:
5.7 seconds

Top Speed:
230 km/h

Fuel Tank Capacity:
64 litres

Dimensions (L x W x H):

4,687 mm x 1,903 mm x 1,632 mm

Wheelbase:

2,818 mm

Cargo Capacity:
525 litres

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This article was first published in Motorist.

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