The road in the sky
by Andy Bryenton
High in the Tyrolean Alps, up toward the Swiss border with Italy, you’ll find a stretch of road, which is claimed to be the best driving experience in all of Europe. Swooping back and forth in a series of dramatic switchbacks, the ribbon of tarmac has become legendary among drivers and cyclists, and not just because of its jaw-dropping scenery. It is, of course, the Stelvio Pass.
So it’s a bold manufacturer who names a vehicle after this stretch of famous highway. Motorcycle makers Moto Guzzi did so in 2008, with a bike designed to carve through those flying corners.
Now, fellow countrymen, Alfa Romeo have taken up the name as well — but there’s a difference. The company, flying high with the success of the stunning Giulia sports sedan, chose to attach the name to a crossover SUV.
Now, for others in the luxury marque bracket, the move to making four-wheel drives has been controversial. Alfa Romeo has a proud history in racing and a back catalogue full of hits which exemplify all that is elegant in the automaker’s art.
Would their sports utility break the mould, or take the concept of a city-and-country crossover to new places? Well, with a name like Stelvio, the only way was up. While most such vehicles strive to be cheeky and cute, the Stelvio has a certain Italian swagger about its looks, before you even turn the key.
It’s a bit of cliche to talk about the ‘passion’ built into Italian cars, but it shows through in the way that the Stelvio is marketed, let alone the willing power from both of the engine choices available under the hood.
For the record, that’s a two-litre turbocharged petrol delivering up to 276hp and 400Nm of torque, or a practical 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel delivering 206hp and a hefty 470Nm. Not long ago, 276 horses were the realm of Japanese turbo tuners — now it’s joined seamlessly to an eight-speed auto and presented in an SUV. That makes the Stelvio quick, and we must say it’s good looking too. There’s the sense that classic Alfa grille looks a bit like a v-neck shirt with the badge as a disco medallion, but that’s part of the fun.
This crossover talks a good game, and it delivers as well. For those who are in the market for an Evoque, F-Pace, XC60 or similar up-scale 4×4, don’t look past the car which could actually handle its namesake — and put a smile on your face while doing it.