Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: April 13, 2021
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio has always been the left-field choice in the premium SUV segment. As it should be. Alfas have never been logical decisions - there are more ergonomically sound, more well-packaged, more powerful, and even more luxurious examples to choose from. Why choose an Alfa then? Because some people buy with their hearts and not their brains, and those who fall in love with the Stelvio, really fall in love with the Stelvio. Quirks and foibles included.
New for 2022 is the Veloce trim, which replaces the outgoing Ti Sport. It’s as sporty-looking and fully-loaded as it gets before you hit the Quadrifoglio trim with its snorting Ferrari-derived V6 engine. As such, the Veloce is equipped with all the creature comforts in the book including the latest driver assistance features. The only thing you need to choose is the paint colour and speaking of which, this shade of Ocra GT on our Stelvio is an absolute stunner, coming off as gold but with a shimmer of mustard yellow. It gives the Stelvio’s silhouette an extra layer of depth, and only adds to its characterful and unique shape.
As with all Alfas, the interior is a charming suite to spend time in. The driving position is spot-on, and all the focus is on the details. We love the steering wheel dials are shaped like an engine air filter, but the gear shifter on the other hand seems to have just been ripped off of an Infiniti. The large wheel has some of the best side grips in the business, and the column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters are always a showpiece. They aren’t mounted to the back of the wheel like other SUVs, so you always know where they are in the midst of wheel rotation. Further, we can never fault a car with a start button embedded into the lower spoke either. Ditto with the analog gauges.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t any foibles to mention. The HVAC fans aren’t as loud as before. Alfa seem to have sorted that issue but when the temperature is set to ‘Auto’, the fans tend to bounce between high and low strength in the matter of seconds and can’t seem to make up their mind. The issue of the overly loud beeps when locking and unlocking the vehicle are still apparent - their sonically piercing wail never fails to wake up the neighbours when trailing home late at night. The infotainment unit hosts crisp graphics and the menu layout is clean, though it does lag quite frequently, and while the cabin materials are quite upscale, most of the switchgear wiggle around in their default position and don’t feel glued into place.
But it’s the Stelvio’s enthusiastic steering, compliant ride, and eager powertrain that will seal the deal for most prospective buyers. While we clearly prefer the creatine-snorting V6 from the Quadrifoglio, not all of us have $100,000 to splurge on a compact SUV. That means a 2.0-litre turbo-four instead that punches out a respectable 280 hp and 306 lb-ft through an 8-speed transmission and Q4 all-wheel drive.
There’s enough low-end thrust to get this five-seater going in a hurry, and it will sprint from 0-100 km/h in just under six seconds, but the engine lacks that polish and cohesion to call it comparable to the X3 30i, which feels more substantial in the bottom end, grunting with character and a steamroll of constant torque. The gearbox is a darling, though, shifting in a snap, and it gave us an excuse to keep flicking those gargantuan paddles, becoming a somewhat cathartic exercise. The exhaust sounds good too - grainy, coarse, and somewhat more distinctive than all the other anodyne four-cylinder mills on the market, but from the outside the noise can come across as unrefined, grinding like a diesel.
Be that as it may, the Stelvio offers a sense of agility and a willingness to turn that you won’t find in the GLC and XC60. There’s verve and vigour to the way it wants to be exploited on a twisty canyon road, and it eggs you on to drive faster and utilize its AWD grip limits and fat contact patches. Body roll is kept to a bare minimum and the Stelvio rides incredibly well on its 20-inch wheels, absorbing the harshest of impacts with an impressive level of grace and control.
The Stelvio continues its mild success in 2022 with a new Veloce model trim, but it does little to move the needle in any creative way. The new Tonale, Alfa’s newest small SUV, on the other hand, seems to have captured more attention. If Alfa can only channel that attention, market the hell out of its photogenic looks and the emotive connection with automobiles, and perhaps connect Formula 1 in with all of that, then they might not need to rely on the heart to sell cars anymore, but also the brain.
Model: 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce
Paint Type: Ocra GT Junior
Base Price: $65,595
Price as Tested: $68,295
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,688 / 1,903 / 1,677
Curb weight (kg): 1,834
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 280 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 306 lb-ft @ 2,000 - 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.2