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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti

      When an Italian does a compact luxury crossover

    Trying to review an Alfa Romeo vehicle is difficult as I found out with the Giulia Quadrifoglio. There were parts of model that I found to be quite amazing and worthy of putting it on my year-end favorites list. But other traits and details left a very sour taste in my mouth. I ended my review with this line,

    “To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.”

    Now I find myself in the same difficult position with another Alfa Romeo, the Stelvio. My fingers were crossed that the Stelvio would avoid some of the pitfalls from the Giulia.

    If you were to ask me to describe the Stelvio’s design, I would say it is a tall riding Giulia hatchback. The shared DNA is made quite clear in the front as there is a three-leaf design for the grille, narrow headlights set at a slight angle, and there are deep cuts in the hood. More of the Giulia can be seen in the side profile with flowing curves and noticeable fender bulges. One design trait that sets the Stelvio apart from other luxury crossovers is the sharply raked d-pillar that gives it a sporty edge.

    The Stelvio’s interior mirrors the Giulia with the same modern design and mixture of high-quality and very cheap materials. I also had an odd build quality issue where the button for the driver’s heated seat would get stuck. I would have to press the button a few times to dislodge it. This is a bit worrying for a brand with a very questionable reliability history.

    A set of leather sport seats that are part of an optional sport package came equipped. With increased side bolstering, the seats do an excellent job of holding you in during an enthusiastic drive. It is a shame that the seats aren’t comfortable for long trips. After an hour or so, I found that my thighs were becoming sore. A little bit more seat padding would do some wonders. In the back, there is adequate head and legroom for an average sized adult. Taller passengers will notice headroom is very much at a premium due to the sloping roofline. Cargo space slightly trails competitors with 18.5 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 56.5 when folded.

    For infotainment, the base Stelvio comes with a 6.5-inch screen. The Ti makes do with a larger 8.8-inch screen. Both systems use a controller knob on the center console and voice commands to move around the system. If you read our Giulia Quadrifoglio review, then you know I had a number of problems with the infotainment system: Odd design choices, issues with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and a number of crashes to name a few. I was hoping the Stelvio’s system would have ironed some of the issues. But sadly, the Stelvio experienced the same issues as the Giulia.

    Alfa Romeo should have just used the UConnect infotainment system like Maserati does. Just put a different coat of paint and call something different.

    Under the hood of the Stelvio lies a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. There is also the high-performance Quadrifoglio with a 505 horsepower, twin-turbo V6 engine. 

    Some turbo lag makes an appearance when the vehicle begins to accelerate. But once the turbocharger spools up, the Stelvio moves at a surprising rate. This comes down to a broad and flat torque curve. The eight-speed automatic mirrors what I found in the Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier in the year - stumbles with gear changes at lower speeds, but becomes smoother as speed increases.

    Handling is where the Stelvio really pulls ahead of the competition. On a winding road, the crossover exhibits excellent control of body motions. Steering provides decent weight and feel needed for an enthusiastic drive. I had to remind myself this isn’t a Giulia sedan, this is a compact crossover. But there is one item that will make you think twice about driving the Stelvio with gusto and that is brakes. The pedal feel was very inconsistent - lightly press on the pedal and the vehicle didn’t feel like it was slowing down, press a little bit further and it felt like the vehicle was going into a panic stop. The issue deals with the brake-by-wire system which uses sensors to measure the amount of force and speed applied to the pedal. This information is then transmitted to a controller which applies the appropriate amount of braking force. This is a problem a few other reviews have noted and one Alfa Romeo needs to address.

    The ride is compliant with a fair number of bumps making their way inside. If you’re looking for a somewhat smoother ride, dropping to the smaller 18-inch wheels is recommended. Road and wind noise are kept to average levels for the class. But engine noise is very noticeable inside, sounding like an old diesel truck. Be prepared to keep the volume for the audio system up.

    Like the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Stelvio has me torn. The crossover has a lot going for it such as the sharp exterior, a very punchy turbo-four, and impressive handling. But then I look at the list of issues such as the problematic infotainment system, confused transmission, and a braking system that is very inconsistent. This isn’t including the dark cloud of Alfa Romeo’s reliability. During my week, I had a ‘Service Alarm’ light that would pop up when I started the vehicle. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I accidentally pressed the panic button and the alarm went off for five minutes. I was about ready to break out the wrenches and remove the battery to shut up the alarm, but then it stopped. It needs to be noted that FCA has issued four recalls on the Stelvio at the time of this writing.

    If you really have your heart set on a Stelvio, be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. There are moments of brilliance mixed in with the perils. Everyone else should look at the competition.

    Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Stelvio, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2018
    Make: Alfa Romeo
    Model: Stelvio
    Trim: Ti
    Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L MultiAir2 SOHC Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 5,200
    Torque @ RPM: 306 @ 2,000 - 4,800
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/28/24
    Curb Weight: 4,044 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy
    Base Price: $43,995
    As Tested Price: $54,090 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Ti Sport Package 22S - $2,500
    Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500
    Dual-Pane Sunroof - $1,350
    8.8-inch AM/FM Bluetooth Radio with 3D Navigation - $950.00
    Harman Kardon Premium Audio - $900.00
    Driver Assistance Static Package - $650.00
    Vesuvio Grey Metallic - $600.00
    Compact Spare Tire - $450.00
    Convenience Package - $200.00



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    (Slightly) Better looking than a Jaguar, but not as good reliability.   I really want to be impressed with these new Alfas... I was in love with the 159s.... but these just fail to impress me.

     

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    I like the styling, but seems like the old Italian shortcomings of poor build quality and poor reliability remain...

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    What an ugly auto with a terrible dash. It is like they decided to pick pieces from everyone and throw it into the dash and call it good. You have the circle vents on the outside of the dash by the windows which remind me of Mercedes-benz, cheap rectangle vents in the center stack, the heat control section under the center vents says Ford to me but I cannot seem to remember which specific model I seen that control panel on.

    Weird, but it really is just a mess or design types with no flow and terrible quality.

    Bill is right on in that the Alfa line is a PASS for everyone as there are far superior products out there.

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    For once I have to agree with @dfelt, I am not a fan of the new Alfa's exterior design.  Interior looks ok to me.  Also, way too many stories about really questionable build quality puts me off them also.

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    On 6/15/2018 at 9:18 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

    (Slightly) Better looking than a Jaguar, but not as good reliability.   I really want to be impressed with these new Alfas... I was in love with the 159s.... but these just fail to impress me.

     

    I second that,

     

    if I wanted an exotic design in this class it’s the Jaguar F-Pace every time, and that’s also because they have the mid level R-Dynamic with the supercharged V6.

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      Authentically Alfa Romeo
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    • By Drew Dowdell
      Alfa Romeo pulled the wraps off their Tonale concept today at the Geneva International Auto Show.  The concept hints at the direction the brand would like to take with a possible crossover slotted below the Stelvio in size. 
      The concept features some retro design cues with the deep set Alfa Romeo grille and thin horizontal headlight cluster. There is a slight wraparound in the rear glass and some thin, full-width tail lamps. The interior features a 12.3" diagonal gauge cluster and a 10.25 inch infotainment screen.  
      Technical specs are limited at this point, but Alfa Romeo does say that the concept would be a plug-in hybrid.  The concept utilizes a rear electric motor to maximize handling performance and includes multiple modes to vary the experience from sporty to maximum efficiency.
      The brand plans on launching 6 PHEVS by the end of 2022. 
      Related: Review: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti
      FCA Press Release on Page 2
      The New Alfa Romeo Tonale Concept Vehicle: Electrification Meets Beauty And Dynamism
       
      First Alfa Romeo plug-in hybrid premium compact SUV makes its debut at 2019 Geneva International Motor Show Distinctive features of Italian style are projected into the future, striking the perfect blend of valued heritage and anticipation of a new evolution for Alfa Romeo In keeping with Alfa Romeo’s DNA, every detail is designed according to the driver's needs Tonale premium compact SUV concept is Alfa Romeo’s take on electrification: state-of-the-art technology and enticing driving dynamics March 5, 2019 , Turin, Italy - Alfa Romeo is breaking into the electric vehicle world at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, revealing the new concept of the Alfa Romeo Tonale premium compact SUV. The Tonale is the first plug-in hybrid and the first premium compact SUV for Alfa Romeo. It rewrites the rules of today's fastest growing segment using the brand’s trademark language made up of gorgeous Italian design and unparalleled driving dynamics.

      A Premium Compact SUV Inspired By Beauty And Alfa Romeo’s Design DNA
      The design of the Tonale is an expression that looks fondly into our future. Its compact dimensions embody unique Italian design and the unmistakable original and modern style typical of Alfa Romeo, striking the perfect blend of valued heritage and anticipation of a new evolution. Alfa Romeo holds dear the essence of Italian art and sculpture through the timeless “artigianale” experience of hand sculpting. 

      The Tonale is inspired by the beauty and nuances associated with human forms, and the organic movement of light resulted by pure lines and volumes. Its design tangibly recalls a number of time-honored style elements that are synonymous with the rich history of Alfa Romeo, with an execution that excites a modern approach to the new Alfa Romeo anatomy. 

      An element that echoes the tradition of Alfa Romeo’s DNA is the phone dial wheel. The Tonale’s 21-inch wheel design displays this through a lightweight architectural construction, creating an honest and impactful execution of the circular theme. The lineage of the phone dial wheel dates back to the 1960s, worn proudly on the iconic 33 Stradale. The distinctive Tonale wheel design is also celebrated harmoniously with an exclusive Pirelli tire scheme.

      The bold, elegant volumes of the body side make reference to a seemingly distant past, recalling the sensual qualities found in the pure forms of the Duetto and the Disco Volante Spider, while the Tonale’s “Linea GT” interprets the tension and confidence of the pouncing stance found on the beloved GT Junior. The front end sports Alfa Romeo’s signature “Trilobo” and the distinctive “Scudetto” grille that serves as the central point of strength, driving the speed and fluidity that moves throughout the Tonale. Flanking the iconic “Scudetto” and completing the front monographic is the “3 plus 3” forward lighting that evokes the proud gaze reflective of the SZ and Brera. The rear of the Tonale is elegantly defined by an enveloping window volume, complemented on top by the suspended wing that enhances the continuity between the transparent roof and the rear window itself. As every Alfa Romeo design is cared for through the human touch, the rear lighting is reminiscent of an artistic signature, rather than an optical lighting element … a sort of luminous signature born directly from the artist’s hand.  

      With the inspiration of Alfa Romeo’s racing history at the core, the Tonale interior design conjures the passion associated with providing a spirited drive through dynamic form and pure sculpture. The interior of the Tonale is very driver oriented and the overall layout is designed comfortably for four passengers. The hand-drawn gestural lines stretch throughout the environment to create a muscular tension, as if what surrounds you is ready to lunge forward. The emotional significance of the Tonale interior is also generated by the contrast of rich materials, such as the cold solidity of aluminum combined with the soft and welcoming warmth of the leather and Alcantara. Inside there are translucent backlit panels, such as the central tunnel, providing the perfect location for the essential Alfa Romeo element, the DNA drive mode selector. The Tonale interior provides an inclusive experience, with details typically reserved for the exclusive. The interior is immersive and welcoming, with the dynamic attributes appreciated by those who love to drive.

      The Tonale concept vehicle is equipped with the highest levels of technology to ensure a connected, comfortable and dynamic user experience, while keeping the pleasure of a sporty drive at the forefront.

      The driver's attention will be on the road, with the peripheral focus on a 12.3-inch full digital cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen central head unit. The new infotainment features a seamless and fluid multitasking interface that allows the driver to have all the latest features and functionality readily available at their fingertips. The Tonale allows the driver to be fully connected to the Alfa Romeo Lifestyle and Social communities, realized and presented through the new infotainment features, “Alfista” and “Paddock”.
        "Alfista” is an immersive Alfa Romeo Lifestyle experience, providing a fully connected interface with select Alfa Romeo clubs and community events, such as gatherings, drives and meets. This in-vehicle app allows the driver access to live news and updates about the current happenings of the Alfa Romeo brand. The customer has the ability to confirm attendance to events and gatherings, order Alfa Romeo Racing tickets, as well as apply for opportunities to win VIP access to special Alfa Romeo sponsored events, just to name a few. “Paddock” is the Alfa Romeo Tonale in-vehicle garage and market for real-time viewing and purchasing of the latest interior and exterior performance upgrades and equipment. The Paddock app also enables the customer to scroll through the latest offerings of Alfa Romeo Merchandise and Apparel, which can be ordered direct with the touch of the screen.
      The Alfa Romeo Tonale is our look into the future of the premium compact SUV segment, creating a holistic creative expression and through the blend of beauty and technology. For Alfa Romeo Design, it is our “opera d’arte,” or piece of art … otherwise expressed as our Alfa Romeo Tonale.

      Authentically Alfa Romeo
      The Tonale marks the debut of the brand in the premium compact utility vehicle segment and does so in line with the characteristics that have always identified each Alfa Romeo model. The goal is to deliver the best driving dynamics in the segment and to apply electrification in perfect Alfa Romeo style. 

      It is the natural evolution of the brand on the way toward propulsive synergy capable of enhancing performance and driving dynamics. Rather than simply adapting to new standards, with the Tonale concept car Alfa Romeo is reinterpreting its own DNA to capture the new idea of beauty, energy, harmony, efficiency and driving user-friendliness. 

      The electrification of Alfa Romeo comes at the service of sportiness and emphasizes the famous "Mechanics of Emotions" mission of the brand. For this reason, it has no need to express itself through signatures or decided livery, but just with small details such as the Alfa logo, or “Biscione” in hybrid optics, a small yet definitive detail that enhances the Tonale. The rear electric engine opens the way to new technological solutions that offer driving dynamics, maximizes the drive and the pleasure of sporty driving. The evolution is also evident in the drive modes managed by Alfa D.N.A. From the beginning on the 4C and through the development with Giulia and Stelvio, it has reached the Tonale and now implements specific energy management functions.
        "Dynamic" mode evolves into "Dual Power" mode and guarantees maximum output from the two engines "Natural" mode continues to maintain the best performance optimization, and the compromise between using electric and internal combustion engines is managed automatically. This translates into everyday energy and fuel savings, but not at the detriment of performance The “Advance Efficiency” mode becomes “Advance E” for performance in full electric mode. So, in line with the principles of the brand, the plug-in hybrid propulsion enhances the beauty, sporty and dynamic driving characteristics of each Alfa Romeo model, taking them to a new level. In Tonale, electrification embraces performance and represents a new way to achieve high performance and outstanding driving fun The infotainment touch screen features an “E-mozione” button, which offers specific throttle settings, sharper braking and a more direct steering response
      Alfa Romeo Tonale
      The Tonale embodies the adventure potential of a premium compact, dynamic sport utility vehicle capable of guaranteeing the adrenaline of sporty driving inherent in the legend of the brand, in urban settings with the same ease. The hum of the electric motor accompanies the genuinely Alfa Romeo roar creating an efficient, exciting synergy at the service of driving pleasure. The energy switch to electric is the latest key page in the 109-year-long history of the Alfa Romeo legend and one which will propel the brand into the future. 

      This is also behind the name chosen for the new concept car. The Tonale Pass, not far from the Stelvio Pass in the Alps, is a large natural amphitheater famous for its majestic peaks, the natural spectacle of frothy waterfalls and snow all year round in a breath-taking natural setting. Directly connected to the Stelvio Pass, excitement and harmony coexist in the Tonale Pass area. The Tonale is an important development under the sign of continuity and geographical proximity, an evolution traced in time in an evocative association.
       
      About Alfa Romeo
      Since its foundation in Milan, Italy, in 1910, Alfa Romeo has designed and crafted some of the most stylish and exclusive cars in automotive history. That tradition lives on today as Alfa Romeo continues to take a unique and innovative approach to designing automobiles. Born from the world’s greatest driving road – the Stelvio Pass – the Alfa Romeo Stelvio sets a new benchmark in performance, style and technology in an SUV that could only be from Italy. The award-winning Alfa Romeo Giulia delivers race-inspired performance, advanced technologies, seductive Italian style and an exhilarating driving experience to the premium mid-size sedan segment. Crafted by Alfa Romeo artisans at the Cassino plant in Italy, the Giulia Quadrifoglio and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio feature Alfa Romeo’s most powerful production engine ever with best-in-class 0-60 mph times of 3.8 and 3.6 seconds, respectively. Rounding out Alfa Romeo’s world-class lineup is the handcrafted Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, which represents the purest form of La meccanica delle emozioni (the mechanics of emotion), with its race-inspired, mid-engine design and state-of-the-art, Formula 1-inspired carbon fiber monocoque chassis.  
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