Alfa Romeo returned to the fast mountain passes of the Cape to launch the facelifted version of its Stelvio SUV, which was aptly named after a mountain pass in its home country of Italy. We sent Kyle Kock to get to grips with the newcomer.
What are we driving?
Originally launched in South Africa in 2018, the Stelvio was one of those vehicles that I was quite surprised with when I first got behind the wheel. There are many SUVs that are fast outright in a straight line, but I think I’d be forgiven in saying that they couldn’t dream of hanging with pukka performance cars in the twisty bits. But that’s exactly where the Stelvio shone brightly; it added significant dynamic prowess to the practical package of the SUV.
Why is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio significant?
Not that we didn’t expect this, because Alfa Romeo’s history is synonymous with engaging driving in its home country of Italy. Alfas such as the Berlina, Giulia, Giulietta, 156s, and 159s have all been praised as being sent by the driving gods, but the most important factor that these aforementioned models have in common is that they’re all sedans.
At the time, the arrival of the Stelvio was to the tune of the global trend that was swinging toward SUVs. Alfa Romeo smartly named its first SUV after what is arguably the most famous mountain pass in Italy – Passo dello Stelvio. It was set to take the brand to heights greater than that summit.
What’s new on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio?
Although the overall profile remains the same; the eagle-eyed will notice the new finish on the famous Trilobo grille. The most significant difference however is the adoption of a 3+3 full LED Adaptive Matrix headlamps – a design feature that debuted on the legendary SZ Zagato and was most recently seen on the 159 and now Tonale. The new headlamps have assigned functions for each of the three units on either side and they adapt to the curvature of the road and also adjust to other vehicles on the road so as not to blind other road users.
This “entry-level” Veloce model gets a new wheel design, and shinier plastics that frame the wheelarches and underline the doors. At the rear there’s now a faux diffuser in-between the exhaust tailpipes. The taillights also have a more transparent finish to differentiate them from their predecessor.
Inside, behind the redesigned steering wheel, the instrument cluster has also been revised. Instead of a central TFT screen flanked by a tachometer and speedometer, there’s now a well-sized 12,3-inch TFT screen where all the vital information is displayed.
What does the Alfa Romeo Stelvio cost?
The big news with the launch of the Stelvio in South Africa in 2023 is that Alfa Romeo’s launched it at the same price that the pre-facelift model was available at – R1 205 000. The only two options available are a sunroof (R15 000) and Advanced Driver Asssistance Systems pack (R5 000). The latter allows the driver to ease up on the throttle and brake pedals, as well as minimized steering inputs for more comfort on longer journeys.
What are the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s rivals?
Drop-dead gorgeous paired with some enjoyable driving dynamics? We think your best bets close to the Stelvio would be the Jaguar F-Pace and Lexus RX. For a little more money, there’s the Porsche Macan. They’re all brilliant, but for driving enjoyment, the Porsche is closer to the Stelvio, albeit for a price premium.
For regular CAR readers, the Stelvio’s launch route actually turned out quite similar to that of the original a few years prior. Alfa Romeo had originally planned a journey that would have included a few more passes, but the bevy of storms bashing the Cape would result in many of these fun roads being closed just before the launch. Regardless, the Stelvio was still thoroughly enjoyed on some of the best B-roads around Cape Town.
The handling is predictable, turn-in sharp and the turbopetrol motor responsive and torquey. Plus, you can pack the family in. What’s not to like?
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce Fast Facts
Price: R1 205 000
Engine: 2,0-litre, turbopetrol, four-cylinder
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Power: 206 kW at 5 250 r/min
Torque: 400 N.m at 2 250 r/min
Driven wheels: all
Fuel consumption: 5,7 litres/100 km
CO2 emissions: 161 g/km
Rivals: Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus RX, Porsche Macan