Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review (2023)

The 2.0-litre turbo four hasn’t had any significant enhancements – nor, we note, does it feature the same performance-boosting mild-hybrid tech that Maserati has adopted for the related Grecale.

The 276bhp it makes is unlikely to pique the interest of too many SUV regulars with established sporting appetites. Even so, the performance it churns out is pretty strong, and the various distant whistles, whooshes and growls it produces will be moderately appealing to Alfa customers who like a bit of esoteric combustive character about their mid-sized SUV.

Only a couple of months ago, we tested an interesting foil for the car, the Lexus RX 500h. While slightly larger and heavier than the Stelvio, and more expensive, the performance hybrid SUV advertises 366bhp for its powertrain – and yet the Alfa, operating at a 90bhp deficit, was almost half a second quicker from rest to 60mph, and nearly a second quicker to 100mph.

On a dry day at the test track, the four-wheel drive system found all the traction it needed during standing starts. There’s a slightly slushy, elastic feel about the eight-speed ZF gearbox as it works its way a little hesitantly through the first two ratios, but a more positive feel to the way it locks into train from third gear onwards, when automatic upshifts come quickly and smoothly – and paddle-shift-selected manual ones smartly when you ask for them.

The engine’s healthy swell of mid-range torque allows it to pull higher gears easily, and to respond to bigger part-throttle demands without the gearbox jumping around between ratios. Let it shift up on a long cruise and, while refinement is decent, you’re not exactly treated to great fuel efficiency (see ‘Buying and Owning’), but even so, fairly relaxed touring is easy to achieve.

When you are in the mood for something less relaxed, the engine has a reasonable appetite for revs, has good responsiveness and makes the Stelvio keen enough to put on speed, although none of our testers considered it as appealing subjectively as one of Alfa’s famous V6s, which is what traditionalists might miss.

The brake pedal, delivered by Alfa’s electromechanically assisted integrated brake booster, is mostly intuitive, although the software does seem to learn and pre-empt the pedal pressure you typically use, and adapt to it. When you change your input style, whatever the reason, it can feel a little abrupt. The pedal is lightly weighted, but had plenty of outright stopping power during our track tests.

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