ENGINE 2891cc V6, DOHC, 24v twin-turbo
POWER 375kW @ 6500rpm
TORQUE 600Nm @ 2500-5000rpm
WEIGHT 1830kg • PRICE $146,900
LIKE: Howling V6; sleek aesthetics; improved infotainment and materials
DISLIKE: Neurotic controls; unresolved driver aids; lurching auto handbrake
IT SHOULDN’T MATTER, but it does. Like people, cars only get one chance to create a favourable first impression and, if you’re asking the thick end of $150K for one, they’ve got a high bar to clear. Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio Q was a car with many admirable qualities, but sit inside for a couple of minutes and your instant take away from it was that the engine and underpinnings must be costing you a pretty penny because the budget certainly never went on the interior.
That first handshake with the Stelvio Q was always tinged with disappointment. It left you with the nagging suspicion that here was a $60K vehicle wearing a lot of dress-up but never avoiding some fairly proletarian roots. Cheap interior plastics, an infotainment system that might have had a $20K Kia preparing its excuses and a fairly rudimentary skim of electronic safety systems again left you figuring that the Stelvio needed to drive really well in order to muscle its way into contention.
And it never did. We brought it to Performance Car of the Year in 2020 and it finished flat last. Yes, it was the only SUV there and was up against some tough competition but no judge voted it higher than ninth out of the 10 cars invited. Against the clock it logged some impressive numbers, getting to 100km/h in 3.79sec, just a quarter of a second off the pace of a 992 Carrera S while its lap time at The Bend was better than that of the unashamedly track-focused Megane Trophy-R. “The common consensus was the Stelvio was an engine looking for a better home (say, a four-door sedan?)” said Scott Newman in his withering final assessment.
Combine that with the 5bn euro investment into the non-electrifiable Giorgio platform that underpins the Giulia, Stelvio and absolutely nothing else, and it’s clear that no matter how successful the 2021 update of Alfa’s mid-size SUV proves, it’ll never be able to repay its debts. Sergio Marchionne’s breathtaking gamble fell on its face, new owners Stellantis looking instead to its STLA large vehicle architecture for future models. So what we have here is an evolutionary dead end and one that, on the face of it, ought to struggle to attract your patronage. So far, so bleak.
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