In 2022, there is just one specification for the 4-cylinder version of Italian car maker Alfa Romeo’s somewhat sexy looking SUV, and this is it; the Stelvio Veloce. It sits below the V6 Quadrifoglio in terms of performance, but is all class.
Previously offered as part of a four variant line-up, it feels somewhat like Alfa Romeo has cut their losses on the modest selling lower down models, choosing to focus on the newest, and shinier version offered here, and its go fast brethren.
The two make a good pair, with the choice of pure sporting prowess or this, more prestige version, which still bags a little nod to the brand’s racing heritage, in the form of DNA drive modes. The letters stand for Dynamic, Natural and Advanced.
Each one allows you to adapt the steering, throttle, shift-mapping, and fuel efficiency of the Stelvio Veloce at the turn of a dial. Contrary to what you might think, the latter one is not the performance mode, and rather is an economy mode; aka Advanced Efficiency.
Dynamic is where it’s at if you need to tap your performance bent, and get the most out of the 206kW turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, capable of delivering 400Nm of torque through its 8-speed auto transmission with manual paddle shifters.
A Ferrari-esque suspension button features in the middle of the dial, providing the adaptive damping the opportunity to do its thing. A rear limited-slip diff lets you punch out of corners and drive the car quite hard, while still retaining a supple ride.
Big brakes, added in the most recent update, ensure good (if not great) stopping power, in what is an overall quite fun package to drive. It’s refined and comfortable, but can still feel floaty when driving spiritedly on uneven road surfaces.
Shod with 255/45R20 Michelin Latitude tyres, the big 20-inch wheels they wrap around don’t do it any favours in these conditions, with its sharp, sporty focus meaning big potholes will be properly felt inside.
On smooth highway roads, or freshly resurfaced country tarmac, the Stelvio feels good to drive, even in Normal mode, thanks to the grunt from the engine, with impressively smooth gearshifts.
Able to sprint to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, even Advanced Efficiency mode doesn’t feel awful. Exterior styling is, in a word, svelte, and offers a truly Alfa Romeo look to the Stelvio’s SUV body.
It’s a good looking bit of kit; enough for the boss’s significant other to suggest it’s a car she could see herself in. Big wheels aside, it also features bi-xenon headlights, the iconic grille shape, red brake callipers, and a powered tailgate.
The latter accesses a fairly decent 525-litre boot space (499 if you opt for the Lusso pack detailed below), with some nice touches, including a luggage net. Flick the remote seat folding levers and that expands to around 1600-litres.
Up front, while it feels a little basic, it’s also super classy, thanks to aluminium trims and nice leather touches, on the seats, door trims and dash. The steering wheel is wrapped in similar attire and feels great to the touch as well.
Analogue instrumentation and solid switches add to a general practical yet refined feel, and the large column-mounted paddle shifters provide a real nod its sporting undertones. The seats are comfortable too, but not perfect.
We say that because if you’re a big lad, or lass, you might find them far too body hugging. The bolsters are, to say the least, wrap around, and won’t suit every body shape. If there’s a let down, it’s the infotainment system.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s loaded with goodness, including 3D navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB+ digital radio, but it’s just too basic and clunky. It feels a little like it was nicked from the Fiat Chrysler parts bin.
That said, even the 10-speaker sound system is top notch, and that’s before you tick the option box to add the 14-speaker one. The phone charging pad in the centre console is a nice touch too, tucked under the armrest.
There’s deep cup holders too, which we’re a fan of, even if they swallow a small coffee, and a USB port tucked up front. Rear seating is pretty decent and properly comfortable. Air vents, dual USB ports, and seat heating all feature.
Safety technology includes active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, driver behaviour warning (aka driver fatigue), auto high beam, lane keep assist, active blind spot assist, autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed control.
The 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce is available in Alpha Red, Alpha White, Vulcano Black, Vesuvio Grey (as tested) and Misano Blue. Black or red leather interior trim options are also on offer. It’ll cost you a little over $91,000 drive away.
An optional Lusso pack adds a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, an alarm system, leather upholstered dashboard, upper doors and central armrest, a compact spare (a repair kit is standard) and a panoramic sunroof.
Our test vehicle was provided by Fiat Chrysler Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce, visit your local Alfa Romeo dealer.