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We drive the Stelvio... Alfa Romeo's first SUV

2017-11-18 15:15

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Alfa Romeo has launched its first SUV in SA, the Stelvio.

Sean Parker

Cape Town - By now you'll know Alfa Romeo's Stelvio, the Italian automaker's first SUV, costs R810 000 for the Super model and R946 000 for the First Edition. There's only one engine available, a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 206kW and 400Nm and power is transferred to all four wheels via an eight speed automatic gearbox. 

Okay enough about the facts, I'm here to tell what it's like to drive. The SUV, bizarrely, is named after a famous twisty, sinewy-like mountain pass in Northern Italy, which shows you where Alfa is pitting the car at... yes I can hear you mutter 'not another dynamic SUV'. 

So, which ingredients has Alfa Romeo used to tantalise the taste buds of petrolheads? 

For starters it weighs 1660kg, which is the lightest mid-sized SUV in the segment according to the firm. The engine is built exclusively from aluminium and they've also tried to slim down the SUV with a carbon driveshaft. 

The engine, which is a real highlight of the car, utilises a twin-scroll turbocharger and pulls with the might of a borehole in Cape Town. It felt super responsive as I whipped up Helshoogte Pass in Franshhoek, knitting corner after corner like a granny on turbovite.

Gallery: 2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Initial turn-in feels great as I grip the same steering wheel from the firm's Giulia sedan, in fact, the Stelvio's interior mirrors that of the Giulia. The driving position is spot on and the leather seats are comfortable and supportive. 

And if you're wondering if it handles brilliantly like most Alfas do, you'd be right. It's difficult to quantify, but while driving on Clarence Drive with the car set up in dynamic mode (via the rotary DNA controller) the weighty steering, good oomph from the engine culminated in a belissimo driving experience. Damn, the Italians,  know how to make a good handling car. 

For the record, the Stelvio reaches 100km/h from standstill in a claimed 5.7 seconds and tops out at 230km/h. We had a go on a gravel road as part of the launch route and it coped well with the farm road. 

There's no question the Stelvio is a very good car to drive and with the 2.0-litre turbo the solitary engine until the QV version arrives in Q3 next year it enters the market at a good time with the popularity of premium SUVs on sale in Mzansi. 

Read more about the Stelvio's specifications and features here. 

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On a practical level, the Stelvio has a 525 litre boot and an electronic tailgate. The Stelvio arrives on showroom floors with a host of safety features: including integrated brake system, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency brake with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. 

There are two models to choose from: the Super version features 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats in three colours (black, brown and red), and complimentary colours for the dashboard and door panels and sill with steel insert. Alfa says the Super version can also be ordered with the optional Luxury Pack which includes seats with electrical adjustment and heating, as well as real wood inserts and aluminium inserts and steel pedal trims.

The First Edition features all the standard equipment of the Super, with the addition of 20-inch alloy wheels, full grain leather upholstery, 10 speaker sound system, Active Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Monitoring electric sunroof and numerous other customer benefits.

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