Italy’s newest crossover crosses the pond and into our hearts

Alfa Romeo is making a comeback in the U.S. – and a rather strong one, at that. We’ve had the 4C sports coupe for a few years now, but it was the Giulia sedan in 2017 and this, the Stelvio crossover in 2018, that are bringing the Italian automaker to the American masses. Well, after spending a week with the Stelvio, I can say Alfa has done a fantastic job building a competitive crossover that butts heads against Germans like the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Porsche Macan.

Last year, I sampled the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the outrageously powerful version with a Ferrari-derived V-6 and two turbochargers stuffed under its carbon fiber bodywork. Not surprisingly, the Stelvio feels very similar to the Giulia, despite my Stelvio tester not having the Quadrifoglio package. And while there are things I really don’t like about the Stelvio (which you can read about in the Four Things I Hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio), there are also some aspects I truly love. So, without further ado, here are four things I love about the 2018 Stelvio.

Continue reading for more information.

4. The Heritage

Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior
- image 741586
Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or in English, the Lombardy Automobile Factory Corporation

The Alfa Romeo name is dripping with rich history dating back to 1910. The Italian automaker’s name is actually an acronym combined with Nicola Romeo’s last name, an Italian businessman who bought the company in 1915 and added his name in 1920. Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or in English, the Lombardy Automobile Factory Corporation. Early success in racing solidified Alfa Romeo as a rightful player in Europe’s budding automotive industry. In fact, Enzo Ferrari rose to fame racing for Alfa Romeo from 1920 to 1939 before leaving to start his own company – a little automaker you might have heard of.

For Americans, Alfa Romero also represents something different yet with that lovable European flair. Alfa isn’t a Mercedes-Benz or Audi or Porsche. They aren’t found in every parking lot in every suburban supermarket. They’re unique – at least for now. If FCA has its way, Alfa Romeo will become just as dominant as the German brands, though Alfa’s got a long way to go. In the meantime, we get to enjoy the exclusivity of Alfa’s new position in the U.S. market.

3. The Looks

Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior
- image 741592
Alfa Romeo’s unique grille design pulls from its heritage; it’s a look that dates back more than 50 years

Alfa Romeo’s unique grille design pulls from its heritage; it’s a look that dates back more than 50 years. Besides not looking like anything else on the road, it gives the crossover a slick appearance, even when it’s not moving. The sloping hood and bulging front fender help inject athleticism into the Stelvio’s nose. Its steeply raked windshield and sloping roofline mix well with its coke-bottle hips. Out back, the dual exhaust are well-placed within the black and satin chrome lower fascia.

Yet despite its sporty nature, the Stelvio doesn’t forget it’s a crossover. The fenders and rocker panels are lined with black plastic flares and it offers decent ground clearance. Overall, the Stelvio has a healthy mix of SUV and sports car. It’s certainly handsome enough to compete against the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

2. The Handling

Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Drivetrain
- image 741553
Even when pushed hard into a corner, the Stelvio’s all-season Continental tires hold on without complaint or plowing

Despite its tallish stance, the Stelvio is extremely nimble on its feet. Body roll is kept to a minimum and the steering is impressively quick. Put on a back road, the Stelvio shows some impressive dance moves. Even when pushed hard into a corner, the Stelvio’s all-season Continental tires hold on without complaint or plowing. It’s pretty impressive, actually.

Of course, there’s a downside. Like I mentioned in my Four Things I Hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio article, the tight steering can make for a darty ride on the interstate. Still, that’s a small trade for an impressively stable crossover. Best of all, my tester is only the Stelvio Sport model. Imagine what the Stelvio Quadrifoglio will drive like!

1. The Powertrain

Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Drivetrain
- image 741578
The 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 280 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm

All non-Quadrifoglio Stelvios in the U.S. are powered by a potent, longitudinally mounted four-cylinder. It’s an all-aluminum 2.0-liter with single-overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder with direct fuel injection squirting in premium fuel. The intercooled, twin-scroll turbocharger then fill the engine with boost for some very stout numbers.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 280 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm. The engine revs impressively fast, making its 6,200-rpm redline seem far too low. The turbo spools quickly with very little lag, giving power on request with no hesitation. The throttle can be dialed up to be more sensitive via the Alfa Romeo’s DNA selector knob. The D stands for Dynamic and is where all the fun can be had.

The tried and true ZF eight-speed automatic does the shifting, and boy, does it work well. The transmission shifts nice and smoothly around down with no fuss or jerkiness. Put the DNA selector in D and slap the shifter into manual mode, and the ZF fires off shifts like a dual-clutch! The only thing missing are cracking exhaust blats between shifts.

Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Drivetrain
- image 741555
Not only does it help when the weather turns sour, but this rear-biased system makes the Stelvio feel lively in the corners

Behind that is the Stelvio’s Q4 AWD system. Not only does it help when the weather turns sour, but this rear-biased system makes the Stelvio feel lively in the corners. It allows the rear to slightly step out when in Dynamic mode, even with the traction control on. Rotate the DNA knob to the A, or Advanced Efficiency Mode, offers programming better suited for bad weather like heavy rain or in snow. There’s also the N, or Natural Mode, for normal daily driving.

In total, the drivetrain, matched with the tight suspension and steering, make the Stelvio a very capable back roads burner.

References

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Exterior High Resolution
- image 716830

Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

no article
- image 741736

Read more Alfa Romeo news.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: