Alfa Romeo introduces a new Stelvio trim level with the familiar 280 horsepower four-pot under the hood

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio has already been around for a while, and the Italian automaker will introduce a new, posh, trim line at the 89th Geneva Auto Show called the Ti. It stands for ’Turismo Internazionale,’ and it’s a nod to Alfa’s storied past. This variant will be equipped with the meatier of the two 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-four engines, new burnished taillights, and new wheels to round things out.

This piece of news may already seem confusing to those of you that are familiar with Alfa’s American range of models. That’s because over in the U.S., Alfa is already offering the Stelvio Ti for the 2019 model year. In fact, you can choose between the $44,495 Stelvio Ti, the $46.995 Stelvio Ti Lusso, and the $47,295 Stelvio Ti Sport. All of these come with the 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-four engine too. However, there will be differences between the European-spec model and the U.S.-spec ones.

What Makes the Euro-Spec Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Special?

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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Alfa Romeo is really complicating our lives with the latest Stelvio trim line announcement. According to a brief statement, the company based in Arese will bring a brand-new Stelvio Ti to the Geneva Auto Show along with two Alfa Romeo Racing-inspired versions of both the Stelvio and the Giulia. This all great, right? I mean, I’m happy to see that Alfa Romeo seems to be doing fine and is filling its Geneva stand with novelties.

With this being said, it's strange that they picked 'Ti' as the name for an upcoming trim level for Europe considering this acronym is already in use Stateside, and the two models aren't, as far as I can tell right now, identical.

So, what do we know? Alfa released a host of photographs showing the Stelvio Ti in all its beauty - in both white and Misano Blue. The Italian manufacturer boasts that the Ti badge only makes it to the "highest specified models" and, from what we know thus far, the European Ti does have some stuff not available on any of the U.S.-spec models.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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For starters, the Ti replaces some polished aluminum trim pieces for carbon fiber ones. The ’V’ of the triangular grille in the front is covered in carbon fiber as are the exterior rear-view mirror covers. Also, the exterior window frames and exhaust pipes are blacked out, and you get dark badges in the back and dark privacy glass. By comparison, no American Ti comes with any sort of carbon fiber trim pieces although the Ti Sport does feature black window frames and roof rails. Also, both the Ti Lusso and the Ti Sport have colored brake calipers although they aren’t yellow like on the European one.

The most striking exterior feature of this Ti, though, is what it rides on: some star-themed 20-inch alloy wheels with five spokes that divide into two elements towards the bottom half of the rim.

These two elements connect with the rim’s lip in such a way as to form a triangle whose outline is polished thus creating a stylized star design. The Ti Sport is also available with 20-inch wheels, but they are of the familiar 10-spoke variety while the other Ti versions have smaller, 19-inch alloys that don’t look anywhere near as good.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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In the back, the Stelvio Ti for Europe sports some polished taillights with transparent elements within the light clusters themselves. This is a slight change that might be carried over to the rest of the Stelvio range in the future. The headlights, on the other hand, look the same with that distinctive C-shaped running light bar that borders the sharp light clusters and the circular main beam light unit positioned just before the headlight narrows down towards the inside.

We haven't got any information on the interior of the Stelvio Ti, but if the exterior offers us any leads, we think we might see more carbon fiber layered around the center console too.

This would be a first on any Stelvio barring from the ultra-fast Stelvio Quadrifoglio as all other trims only offer different types of leather and polished metals in the cabin.

Fortunately for U.S. Alfa fans, the European Ti doesn’t offer more power or more torque. In fact, it comes with a bit less. According to Alfa’s statement, the 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine - which is the same GME T4 MultiAir unit part of the FCA Global Medium Engine family - puts out 280 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from 2,250 rpm mated to an eight-speed transmission. Across the pond, the same mill churns out 306 torques as per Alfa’s website!

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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Still, the 4,037-pound compact luxury SUV is capable of a 0 to 60 mph run in just 5.7 seconds on the way to a 143 mph top speed. Alfa states the acceleration time is the best in the ’luxury mid-size SUV’ segment as Alfa puts it. Looking at two of Stelvio’s main rivals, the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5, the Ti is indeed quicker, albeit barely. The 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine in the Audi puts out 248 horsepower, and it gets you to 60 in 5.8 seconds while the X3 xDrive30i powered by the 248 horsepower 2.0-liter, inline-four does 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds (the Mercedes CLC350 4Matic needs an extra 0.6 seconds to reach 60). You can, however, opt for the 355 horsepower X3 M40i and that humiliates the Stelvio as it reaches 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds, and it’s also 11 mph faster and packs 74 extra pound-feet of torque. But the M40i starts at $54,650, $11,650 more than the xDrive30i version and $10,155 more expensive than the cheapest American Stelvio Ti.

The interesting thing about this maze of figures is that, and I’m again referring back to Alfa Romeo’s own U.S. website, the official 0 to 60 mph time for all the Ti’s is, lo and behold, 0.3 seconds below that of the European Ti. I’m at a loss as to how the U.S. models can reach 60 mph in 5.4 seconds as opposed to the 5.7 seconds it takes for European models - both are official figures, obviously, but it may have something to do with that extra bit of torque because, otherwise, AWD is standard on both sides of the Atlantic on these trims.

The RWD Stelvio is, supposedly, 100 pounds lighter than the AWD model but there's no weight difference here, I guess since all are four-wheel driven.
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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Moving away from what seems to be a case for the Sherlock Holmes of the automotive world, Alfa didn’t actually go all the way and tell us how much the Stelvio Ti will cost in Europe. In the U.K, the Stelvio ranges between $49,690 and $60,428 for the Stelvio Milano Edizione that only comes with the boring 2.2-liter diesel mill capable of 210 horsepower.

But the Stelvio, named after one of Italy’s most famous strips of mountainous road, is far from being a boring SUV. In fact, it’s an enjoyable piece of kit even if you don’t have $80,000 to spend (plus $1,590-worth of destination fees) on the Quadrifoglio with its 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-6 that cranks out 502 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 440 pound-feet of torque between 2,500 rpm and 5,500 rpm.

Also, as a Ti, it draws on a rich heritage of racing-oriented models. The ’Turismo Internazionale’ name was first given to a category established in Italian motorsport events to welcome modified production cars (mostly sedans and coupes).

One of the first Alfas to exhibit the Ti badge (written T.I.) was the 1900 Berlina whose bored out 2.0-liter engine was capable of 100 horsepower; later dual-carb TI Super models churned out 115 horsepower.
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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An Alfa Romeo book says that this special version of the Berlina was "destined mainly for competition use and designed to keep pace with Lancia whose Aurelia saloons were increasingly threatening." These cars are rare today as "Alfa Romeo specially prepared 572 examples of the 1900 Berlina, creating very competitive cars for the Turismo Internazionale category, hence the T.I. initials." Nowadays, a Super Berlina in street guise changes hands for about $57,000.

That kind of money would buy you a well-specced Stelvio, an SUV that made it on Car & Driver’s 2018 Editor’s Choice list. The Stelvio made the cut because of its " impressive standard features and outstanding performance that put revered rivals in its crosshairs" that outweigh what Car & Driver calls an "unproven powertrain and questionable build quality." Indeed, having sat in a number of Giulias and Stelvios, some of the plastics in the cabin are tacky but, at least, the buttons on the wheel feel premium enough and the metals used aren’t of the cheap variety either.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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Top Gear tested the Stelvio, and their take was simple: this is an Alfa you could actually end up buying. Why? Well, TG reckons that "the Stelvio isn’t as much as fun as a Giulia and on a similar plain to the F-Pace, but, all things considered, Alfa has done an admirable job on converting its value into an SUV package."

AutoExpress also applauds Alfa’s ability to squeeze a lot of the Giulia’s DNA into the larger body of the Stelvio saying "despite the increased ride height, the Stelvio drives almost as sweetly as the Giulia" although the ride had to suffer a bit for this to be achieved but, then again, there’s always a compromise somewhere - especially when a sedan and an SUV share the same platform, the Giorgio.

The gearbox is mentioned as a well-engineered unit by Autocar which says that "short-shifting through the eight ratios of the automatic transmission is no chore, though, with fresh gears engaged quickly, smoothly and with no small amount of satisfaction if you’re calling for them manually by using the paddle shifters." What is more, "the manner in which this car permits just enough body roll to communicate its grip level clearly is impressive" although things aren’t as leisurely when the road is a bit bumpier due to the Stelvio’s stiff ride. Indeed, it’s on well-paved roads where the Stelvio is at home, not traversing less-than-ideal B roads.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Euro Spec
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The New Zealand branch of Autocar points out the quirkiness of Alfa’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system. "it’s essentially a rear-drive set-up with an active transfer case sending up to 50% of the drive to the front differential, but only when the going gets slippery". On top of that, the "Stelvio turns most unlike other high riders with that quick steering pointing it about keenly, making it easy to latch on to a line," according to the same article.

The steering rack and, naturally, the turning ratio is shared between the Stelvio and the Giulia. Sadly, not many compact SUV/crossover buyers in the U.S. look for top-notch handling when buying such a vehicle, and the Stelvio isn't really a class leader when it comes to cargo space, for instance.

It offers only 18.5 cubic feet of space in the back with the rear seats up, down by 2.6 cubic feet in comparison to the Audi Q5 and as much as 10.2 cubic feet when put next to the BMW X3’s sizeable trunk. The Mercedes GLC, however, offers less than one cubic foot of extra cargo space.

In spite of these drawbacks, you can’t forget that, when you get out of the Stelvio, and you look over your shoulder, you catch a glance of what must be one of the prettiest compact SUVs on the market today and maybe in a long time. It looks fast standing still, and it also looks sporty without employing that vexing coupe roofline that you see on the X6 for example. And you know how important it is to have a car you’re happy to look back at as you walk away from it.

Further reading

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior
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Four Things I Love about the Stelvio

Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior
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Four Things I Hate About the Stelvio

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