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The wraps have come off Alfa Romeo’s rival to luxury class SUVs such as Jaguar’s F-Pace and Porsche’s Macan…
Alfa Romeo has launched its new Stelvio – a vehicle billed as the brand’s first SUV. Unveiled in Europe, the derivative is powered by a choice of four-cylinder, turbocharged 2,0-litre petrol or 2,2-litre diesel engines, each coupled with eight-speed automatic transmission. Drive is to all wheels.
The car, designed on a Giorgio platform to compete against rivals such as Porsche’s Macan and Jaguar’s F-Pace, is said to have been constructed mainly from aluminium to reduce weight and improve dynamic agility. Even the diesel plant – which produces 154kW – is made entirely from aluminium, a first for Alfa.
According to a statement issued by the company, a similarly configured but lesser powered diesel engine – tuned to produce 134kW – is scheduled to be added to the line-up later this year.
The statement says the Stelvio – which takes its name from a mountain pass in the Italian Alps – has been designed to offer an engaging driving experience, the company claiming the most direct steering ratio in the segment, 50:50 weight distribution and excellent torsional rigidity.
Suspension is by way of double wishbones at the front and a patented four-and-a-half link system at the rear. The all-wheel-drivetrain features rear-wheel bias, with sensors continuously monitoring numerous parameters to optimise torque distribution between the two axles.
“In normal grip conditions the Stelvio acts like a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with 100% of the torque sent to the back axle. As the wheels approach their grip limit the system transfers up to 50% of the torque to the front axle,” the statement says. As a result, Alfa claims best-in-class control in terms of traction and directional stability in corners.
The statement adds: “Combined with ultra-lightweight, hi-tech materials such as carbon fibre for the driveshaft and aluminium for the engines, suspension, bonnet, wings, doors and the tailgate, the car boasts sector leading handling.”
Interestingly, the vehicle weighs 116kg less than the aluminium-rich Jaguar F-Pace – tipping the scales at 1 659kg – while its exterior dimensions are similar to those of a Porsche Macan.
According to Alfa, to promote on-road agility but retain comfort aspects, the layout of the car has been configured to accommodate weighty items in the most central positions. While the driving position is high to offer a commanding view of the road, the car’s centre of gravity remains low – akin to that of a sports car’s, the statement says.
It adds that the driver focused cockpit has been designed to contribute to the sporty driving experience, and describes the cabin as exceptionally quiet and comfortable. For versatility, the expansive cargo bay is said to hold 525 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place.
The 2,0-litre petrol engine produces 206kW and 400Nm and features electro-hydraulic valve actuation, a 2-in-1 turbocharger and a high-pressure, direct injection fuelling system. According to Alfa’s tests, the unit is capable of propelling the car from zero to 100km/h in 5,7 seconds – making it 0,9 seconds faster to the mark than the diesel-powered equivalent. Top speed is said to be 230km/h, while fuel consumption in the combined cycle is rated at 7,0 litres/100km.
The diesel unit – which produces 154kW and 470Nm – features a latest-generation fuel injection system that operates at pressures of 2 000-bar. An electrically-controlled variable geometry turbocharger features a speed sensor to minimise response times and improve efficiency. The car’s top speed is said to be 214km/h, with fuel consumption listed at 4,8 litres/100km in the combined cycle.
Whether the choice is petrol or diesel, each of the engines is paired with ZF developed, eight-speed automatic transmission which the statement says has been calibrated for fast, smooth gear shifts. “The gearbox works with the Alfa DNA selector to optimise fluidity, comfort and ease of driving in all environments and helps to further improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Steering-column-mounted, aluminium paddle shifters are also available.”
By using the DNA selector, the driver is able to change the car’s responses to suit driving conditions – Dynamic to accentuate performance and reactive handling; Natural for urban and highway motoring; and a new energy saving mode dubbed Advanced Efficiency to maximise energy saving and minimise emissions levels.”
Inside, the cabin boasts high quality materials including full-grain leather, real wood and fabrics carefully chosen for their look and feel. “Despite a real focus on styling – both inside and out – the practical layout of the car means the driver is central to everything.
“This is underlined by the diagonal tunnel, the slightly undulating dashboard and the small leather-wrapped steering wheel that adapts effectively to all driving styles,” says the statement.
The infotainment system – Alfa Connect, developed in partnership with Magneti Marelli – is controlled from a rotary pad with an 8,8-inch display screen incorporated in the dashboard. Bluetooth is a standard feature, with navigation optional. The standard audio system features eight speakers, though 10- and 14-speaker options are available.
According to Alfa, the Stelvio scores a world first for its segment by incorporating an electromechanical system that combines stability control with a traditional servo brake. “With its combination of electronics and mechanics, this system not only cuts weights, gives an excellent driving feel and eliminates pedal vibration, but also guarantees instant brake response, meaning a much shorter braking distance,” the statement says.
Other standard safety features include Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross-Path Detection and Active Cruise Control.
Pricing in South Africa and specifications levels will be confirmed closer to the car’s launch here towards the end of the year.