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"New Car Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI" By Larry Nutson

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2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI
La meccanica delle emozioni

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Since 1910 Alfa Romeo has been a design leader in crafting very stylish and exclusive cars. From the late 1920s through the 1930s, Alfa Romeo was the preeminent sports car in the world. Alfas won Le Mans four consecutive years from 1931-34 and the Mille Miglia an astounding ten times in eleven years from 1928-38!

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Alfa Romeo was one of the first carmakers to put a powerful engine in a light-weight sedan available to the masses. Alfa’s La meccanica delle emozioni (the mechanics of emotion) spirit has been embraced by Alfista around the world.

Keeping that tradition alive in today’s world of SUVs and trucks is certainly a challenge. An SUV from Alfa couldn’t be any less of an Alfa.

The all-new Stelvio was designed and engineered to set a benchmark for the segment. It’s named after the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps, arguably one of the greatest driving roads in the world.

Proving its worth, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has claimed the title of world's fastest production SUV, setting a new benchmark lap time at Germany's legendary Nürburgring. A Stelvio Quadrifoglio lapped the 12.9-mile Nordschleife (north loop) in a record 7 minutes 51.7 seconds. This new benchmark time is a full eight seconds faster than the previous production SUV record.

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On sale since summer-2017, the Stelvio and Stelvio Ti are priced at $41,995 and $43,995, respectively. Powering both is a 280-hp turbocharged and intercooled 2.0L engine that will take you from 0-60 mph in an estimated 5.4 seconds. Both trims feature an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, Alfa’s rear-biased Q4 system.

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is priced at $79,995 and features an all-aluminum, direction-injection 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine rated at 505 horsepower. Also using an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive it will go from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 177 mph.

For new Alfista out there, the "TI" badging refers to a class of Italian sedan car racing known as "Turismo Internazionale." Since 1923, the quadrifoglio logo (the 'cloverleaf') has been the symbol of Alfa Romeo racing cars and since the late-1940s it has also been used to designate the higher trim models of the range.

A Sport package is offered on the base model and Ti Sport, Ti Lusso and Ti Performance packages (priced at $2,500 MSRP each) provide drivers with unique features and equipment to suite their personal need.

For this review I drove a Stelvio Ti Sport that was also equipped with a Convenience package, Driver-Assistance Static and also Dynamic Plus packages, a dual-pane sunroof and a few other options that brought the bottom line to $53,640.

The 5-passenger mid-size Stelvio SUV is very well equipped even in the base trim with leather upholstery, power fold-away outside mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, 10-way driver and front passenger seat, a power liftgate and more.

The Ti Sport I drove had heated front seats, heated steering wheel, front and rear park assist, 20-inch wheels, painted brake calipers, 12-way power seats with power bolster and thigh support, and aluminum interior accents.

Both driver-assistance safety packages are a must-buy these days. Equipment includes blind spot and rear cross path alert, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, forward collision warning with mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and automatic high beams.

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In the cockpit the seats are firm and supportive. I really liked the power adjustment to the seat bolsters along my sides. The steering wheel mounted engine start button is unusual, but you quickly adapt. With the Sport Ti you get steering column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters that are a bit large but easy to use. The view looking out around the A-pillars and side mirrors is a bit hindered and required some concentration to make sure nothing was in my path.

Two console rotary controllers are easy to use. One controls Alfa’s DNA Drive Mode system with Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficiency settings which can be used to fine tune the driving experience by adjusting throttle response, boost pressure and suspension settings.

The secondary rotary dial controlled the 8.8-inch, wide-screen infotainment system with real-time vehicle performance pages and telemetry, plus 3-D graphic navigation that recognizes handwritten gestures on the top of the rotary pad, allowing the driver to easily interact with the 3-D Navigation system. I was wishing for a tuning knob for the audio system.

On the practical side, the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat has 18.5 cu.ft. of space behind it that opens up to 56.5 cu.ft. with the seat folded. It looks like the golf clubs will fit just fine.

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The power train performance is without complaint or concern. The engine and transmission work well together and are very responsive. The multi-gear transmission keeps the engine working it its sweet spot. EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 24 mpg combined with 22 city mpg and 28 highway mpg. Needless to say, I made more use of engine power than engine efficiency!

The Stelvio, built on the same platform as the Giulia, uses lots of aluminum with front and rear vehicle frames, front shock towers, brakes, suspension components, roof, doors, fenders and hood all helping to keep weight down.

The overall ride is quite comfortable and the suspension very compliant for excellent Alfa-like handling. Alfa says the Stelvio has 50/50 weight distribution front to rear. I thought things stayed pretty well composed driving through some corners a bit hard. The ride is not at all SUV-ish, but indeed quite sporty.

Brembo brakes all around pull the Stelvio to a stop.

Yes, an SUV designed for the track with most all of them that are sold never seeing a track.

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I haven’t had a chance at this point to drive the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. So we’ll save that for another time. You can find more information, specs and pricing details on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio at

A just-announced new Nero Edizione package wraps the Italian brand’s SUV with striking dark exterior accents that includes dark-finished wheels, mirror caps, grille surround, exhaust tips, roof rails, badging plus more.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan was named the 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year. It’ll be interesting to see what awards the Stelvio garners. It already garnered a couple and is a candidate for the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year. Stelvio was named 2018 Crossover of the Year in Popular Mechanics’ Automotive Excellence Awards at the very recent 2018 New York International Auto Show.

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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