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Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Stelvio Ti: Longing For Milano

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it’s an SUV and, basically, there’s enough of those things running around out there. 9 out of 10 of them are bought for inconsequential “reasons” and the practicality you get could be better served by other rides. On the other hand: This is an Alfa Romeo.

Look, I will make no bones about this: I love Alfas. In my “huge warehouse for cars I will get when I win the lottery” there are many, many Alfas. Many. They have, without question, made at least a handful of truly great cars over the course of history.

You don’t get to call yourself “iL Primo Automobile Campione del Mondo” for nothing, you know. But still . . . it’s an SUV.

Longing For Milano

I can thoroughly understand Ford and GM and the like making these things. And I can even see other automakers selling them. They are top sellers, and in some cases (Porsche) the sales of SUVs allow car companies to make loss-leaders that are fantastic (911 GT3s). But then there are those other car companies that are making SUVs for no logical reason. Honestly, Bentley and Aston Martin and Lamborghini should be hauled before the committee poste haste and forced to explain themselves.

But, here I am, staring down the barrel of not one but two Alfa Romeo SUVs. Now what am I gonna do? Close my eyes and think of Milano, I guess.

Double Time

Basically, there are two Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUVs: the “normal” Stelvio, and the slightly more full zoot Stelvio Ti. Generally speaking, the overall similarities are like this: Alfa says it’s “an SUV for the S-curves,” which is cute, and what seemingly every manufacturer says about their SUVs. We, the gearheads, laugh loudly in their general direction. But in Alfa’s case, they might not be joking.

For starters, all Stelvio models feature a near 50/50 weight distribution, which is really going to help with handling and performance. There’s an eight-speed automatic transmission with available, steering column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters. Shifts take place in less than 100 milliseconds. No, I’m not kidding. That makes me start to think Alfa let the loonies out of the racing department.

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“The all-new Stelvio further highlights and expands Alfa Romeo’s return to North America with a premium mid-size SUV that truly stands apart in the segment,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Alfa Romeo. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Performance Tech

Stelvios (Stelvii? Stelvi? Siamo spiacenti, il mio italiano è un po ‘arrugginito) come very well-equipped with lots of standard and premium features, like the leather interior, remote start with passive entry, bi-xenon headlamps, a roarty dual exhaust, a class-exclusive carbon-fiber driveshaft (fresco!), and a flat-bottom Formula One-inspired steering wheel (molto fresco!). The Stelvio also has a DNA drive mode selector, which is a rather overwrought term for a gizmo that varies suspension and performance settings based on need/terrain/conditions.

Everything is motivated down the Strada via a direct injected, 280 horsepower turbocharged and intercooled 2.0L engine. The Stelvio hits 60 in an estimated 5.4 seconds. And HOLY @&^%! is that ever quick right out of the box. 5.4 seconds? Like Porsche Cayenne GTS quick. Like, if I have to buy an SUV quick. 5.4 seconds . . . heck of a number, that.

Besides that plant cranking out the power, Alfa gets those kind of numbers thanks to an innovative Q4 all-wheel drive system, standard on all Stelvio models. I believe that’s the same AWD layout they used on 144 DTM cars that was so crushingly superior the FIA outright banned it.

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The Stelvio Pass is the highest mountain pass in Italy and the second highest in Europe. With a 12-mile road that contains over 48 bends, adventurers reach up to 9,000 feet. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Executive Treatments

18-inch aluminum wheels are standard, with 19- and 20-inch wheels available. Other standard items include bi-xenon headlamps with signature LED daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, and a backup camera with rear park sensors (thank you). The remote start, passive entry with Keyless Go, and a power liftgate were all no doubt made with the FLA (Fat Lazy American) market in mind.

The Formula One-inspired, flat-bottom steering wheel with integrated push button start is available on the Sport Package for another $1,800. That also adds 19-inch wheels, steering column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters (which you should really get), a sport steering wheel, genuine aluminum accents, gloss-black window trim surround, black roof rails, aluminum sport pedals and deadpedal, and colored brake calipers. The sport-tuned suspension is a nice touch, as is the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

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Safety features include Full-speed Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Warning. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Stelvio Ti

Okay, so the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio (the “normal” base level model) has an MSRP of $41,995. The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti lists at $43,995. It features all the goodies on the Stelvio, but adds even more premium perks and convenience offerings. For starters, the 19-inch wheels are standard as are the genuine wood interior accents; a larger 8.8-inch entertainment and information display, SiriusXM, front park sensors, heated steering wheel, and heated front seats are also part of the Ti.

Two further sub-models include the Ti Sport and Ti Lusso. Each of these will cost you a not-unreasonable $2,500.

Properly Packaged

The Stelvio Ti Sport adds 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, 12-way power high performance sport leather seats, including 4-way lumbar and power bolsters with thigh extenders (stop that giggling), steering column-mounted aluminum paddle shifters, sport steering wheel, gloss-black window trim surround, black roof rails, aluminum sport pedals and footrest, and colored brake calipers.

The Stelvio Ti Lusso (lusso is the Italian word for luxury) includes the 19-inch wheels, Luxury Pieno Fiore Italian leather seats with Cannelloni inserts, 12-way power front seats including 4-way lumbar, leather-wrapped dash and upper door trim with accent stitching, genuine wood trim in dark gray oak or light walnut, a luxury steering wheel, and aluminum pedals and footrest.

Overall, that sounds like a lot of bang for your buck. It’s right in the middle of the budget spectrum for SUVs, and hits the sweet spot for luxury/performance oriented buyers. If Alfa Romeo can make these things run (and not to totally dismiss the 400 pound gorilla in the room, that is a very big and very important if) they should sell them by the boatload. Would I buy one? Forse … forse … my “huge warehouse for cars I will get when I win the lottery” does have lots of space after all.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Gallery

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.