Alfa Romeo Stelvio (2017 - 2022) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch


Alfa Romeo's Stelvio proved that the impressive engineering used in the brand's Giulia saloon could also work in more challenging market segments. The premium part of the mid-sized crossover sector is certainly one of those. For customers in this class, this Milanese model promises character and real driving engagement.


5dr SUV (2.0 petrol, 2.9 V6 petrol / 2.2 diesel)


The Stelvio is an Alfa Romeo first and an SUV second. The Milanese maker wants you to be in no doubt of that. But what exactly might that mean?

In the earlier years of this century, a variety of manufacturers previously unfamiliar with the SUV segment had to rather awkwardly take long established brand values and somehow make them fit into the concept behind this kind of car. Unlike Jaguar, Maserati, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini though, Alfa Romeo had at least made one of these things before. It was called the Matta, a Jeep-like 4x4 briefly sold in the early '50's, and it's long forgotten, just like the Kamal crossover prototype shown in 2003 and other models the company's made from time to time that have taken it out of its usual sporting comfort zone. The Stelvio though, might be a longer-remembered Alfa foray into the unknown - and there are plenty of reasons why.

Launched in 2017, this Milanese model absolutely had to offer something different. Otherwise, there would have been no real reason for customers to bother with it when there were so many other better-established alternatives. Which is why that 'Alfa first, SUV second' boast simply had be more than just marketing-speak. Hence a promising engineering approach based on the stiff, sophisticated Giorgio platform pioneered by the universally well-received Giulia mid-sized four-door model that Alfa had launched in 2016. Thanks to a weight gain over that sharp-handling saloon restricted to just 200kgs, the engineers gave themselves a decent chance of building into this Stelvio the kind of eager character you simply wouldn't expect from a crossover contender. Plus we were promised feelsome steering, a tunefully characterful engine soundtrack and a top model with a Ferrari-derived engine.

Following this Stelvio's original launch, Alfa put quite a lot of effort into refettling it over the years, starting with the first of the two range updates - in September 2018, which saw the introduction of more efficient Euro 6D engines. The line-up was further revised for the 2020 model year, with upgraded cabin infotainment, level 2 drive assist features and a range of Alfa Connected Services. A further update package was announced for the 2023 model year, but it's the earlier 2016-2022-period Stelvios we're going to look at here.

What You Get

Even before you notice the evocative badge on the classic triangular trefoil nose, it's clear that this is a car with a uniquely Italian sense of flair, something further emphasised by the long bonnet, the short overhangs and the muscular haunches. There really is nothing quite like the Stelvio in this segment. And at the wheel? Well what a disappointment it would have been if all the romance of the exterior had been compromised by a cabin fashioned as a pale pastiche of what the German brands offer. It wasn't. Instead, there's a cockpit that to some extent at least, succeeds in combining classic Alfa charisma with modern functionality. True, there are a few issues with fit and finish, especially with some elements of the switchgear - and this Italian SUV can't match its German rivals in terms of media connectivity, though the 8.8-inch centre dash infotainment screen works effectively. There's so much else that's seductive about this cabin though; the deeply-cowled dials, the smart thin-rimmed three-spoke wheel, splashes of aluminium and huge, evocative gear change paddles behind the steering wheel that look as if they were originally designed for a Ferrari - and probably were. Add in stitched leather and a bit of optional trim embellishment and the interior can look absolutely gorgeous.

When it's time to take a seat in the rear, taller folk might find access hindered a little by the swept-back roofline. Still, the rear door opens decently wide and once inside, there's a lot more headroom than the sleek silhouette previously led you to expect. Legroom though, isn't quite as good as in some direct rivals - though it's better than in a Porsche Macan - and a couple of talk folk sat behind a lanky driver will find their knees very close indeed to the scalloped cut-outs indented into the front seat backs.

Finally, the standard powered tailgate opens to reveal a 480-litre capacity that improves on what you get in a Porsche Macan or Volvo XC60 but is a little smaller than other more obvious German class rivals. The seats fold in a useful 40:20:40 split so that long items like skis can be pushed through into the cabin without disturbing rear seat folk.

What You Pay

Prices for this Stelvio are quite a bit above those of an equivalently engineered Giulia saloon, starting at around £18,250 (around £21,000 retail) for a 2.0-litre petrol Turbo 200 model on a '17-plate. A later 2.0-litre petrol model, say a late '22-plate 2.0 280hp Veloce, requires £36,600 (£41,500 retail). Diesels start from around £19,650 (around £22,250 retail), which gets you an early '17-plate 2.2 JTDM-2 Super model. One of the last 2.2D 210 Veloce models on a late '22-plate values at around £34,100 (around £38,000 retail). The rare petrol 2.9 V6 BiTurbo Quadrifoglio super SUV values from around £38,000 (around £42,750 retail) on an early '18-plate, with a late '22-plate model valuing at around £52,900 (around £58,750 retail). All quoted values are sourced through industry experts cap hpi. Click here for a free valuation.

What to Look For

Though quite a few owners in our survey seemed happy, there are certainly things that you'll need to look for. We've come across a number of problems with the suspension and axles which include issues with the drive mode selector causing the suspension to lock up. Some owners have reported that the front suspension clunks over small bumps. We've also come across quite a few electrical issues. A number of owners have had battery failures, which in some cases are prefaced by assistance module failures such as the start stop system ceasing to work. Some owners have had issues with engine electronics, resulting in in all kinds of issues ranging from the engine check light coming on to complete limp mode activation.

Some owners have reported that the infotainment screen and the central dashboard screen have become dark and unresponsive: this requires a software update. We also heard of problems with the E-brake system getting stuck, which needs to be released in the brake service mode on the infotainment screen. Look out for dashboard warning lights that glow without an actual malfunction. And there are reports of 'service electronic throttle control' warning messages on the dashboard, which need to be resolved by a software update. Overall, you'd be wise to insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2020 Stelvio 2.0 280hp - Ex Vat) An air filter costs in the £24 bracket. An oil filter costs in the £8 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £72-£92 bracket for a set; for a rear set, it's in the £50 bracket. Front brake discs sit in the £83 bracket; for rears, think in the £122-£139 bracket. A tail lamp is in the £217-£265 bracket. And a pollen filter is in the £5-£22 bracket. A wiper blade is in the £4-£14 bracket. A fuel filter is around £18.

On the Road

The Stelvio set out to bring more engaging driving dynamics than had ever previously been offered to buyers of mid-sized premium SUVs at this price point. That it can deliver on this remit is evident in the first few miles you spend at the wheel. The steering's quick and very responsive, the brakes are brilliant and the stiff, sophisticated rear-driven chassis is aided by the car's relatively light weight, plus perfect 50-50 front-to-rear weight balance and structural rigidity that keeps body roll well in check. The brand's SDC adaptive suspension system was optional - but models fitted with this set-up are well worth having as without it, the ride is always rather on the firm side. All Stelvios get Alfa's 'DNA' drive modes system, so that you can tweak the throttle, the steering and gearchange timings to suit the mood you're in.

All the engines on offer are borrowed from the brand's impressive Giulia saloon and, as there, mainstream buyers will choose between two very different units. The 2.0-litre petrol turbo powerplant is one way you could go, offered with either 200hp or more likely in potent 280hp form. But the vast majority of original customers went for the 2.2-litre diesel, available in either 180 or 210hp states of tune. In both cases, you can expect competitive efficiency figures - 58.9mpg on the combined cycle and around 124g/km of CO2 (NEDC figures). All the engines must be mated to an 8-speed auto gearbox you can activate with deliciously emotive Ferrari-style paddleshifters. And, talking of Ferrari influence, we should also mention the Maranello-engineered flagship variant, the storming 2.9-litre V6 Biturbo 510hp Quadrifoglio model, which storms to 62mph in just 3.8s.


Alfa Romeos tend to offer an endearing, refreshing - but sometimes slightly confusing - mix of virtues, and this one's no different. You kind of feel for the Milanese maker here, because in developing this car, it was caught awkwardly between the conflicting expectations of brand and market segment. Priorities for buyers browsing in the mid-sized premium SUV sector tend to lie in comfort-orientated drive dynamics, but that's not a confection that Alfa could be seen to be offering without compromising its core values. So, the company went the other way and delivered to us a contender more lively and involving than any of its direct rivals, aside perhaps from the far pricier Porsche Macan. The flip side of this though, is that customers will need to be happy with a slightly firmer quality of ride. We rather wonder how many of them will be.

You could also point out that customers in search of desirable driving dynamics in a versatile, spacious used model of this size would be better served by a similarly-priced performance-orientated estate. It's a valid argument, but people have been making valid arguments against SUV purchase for a very long time now, while sales in this genre just keep on growing. People want cars like this and because BMW, Jaguar and Porsche all decided to make them, Alfa needed to as well. We were impressed by the fact that in meeting that demand, this Italian maker resisted the temptation to merely copy its rivals. And in reviewing this car, we were encouraged by the way that so many of the company's brand values survived the transition into the crossover class. It really is 'an Alfa first and an SUV second'. We like it for that. You may well do too.

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