2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

HAILED BY MANY as the world’s best driving road, the Stelvio mountain pass in Italy now has a car named after it. And you might imagine that given this glorious 20km-long ribbon of tarmac is punctuated by 75 hair-raising bends and skirted on all sides by lethal drops, the car in question would be a grippy AWD sports car or maybe a stickered and striped hot hatch. But it’s not. It’s an SUV.

It’s the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio, a car claimed to be “uniquely engineered to challenge two-door sports cars on the track, without sacrificing any of the characteristics you would expect from a premium SUV”. But before you mock, it really is that. After all, it is “inspired by Ferrari technologies and technical know-how”.

"It should take more than adequate care of two-door sports cars"

James Coleman

At least in unpronounceable Quadrifoglio spec, it shares the same ‘Ferrari-derived’ 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo petrol engine with the recent and bombastically good Giulia sports sedan. This means 375kW of power, 0-100km/h in a fraction over four seconds, and a top speed of 285km/h. And best of all, a ‘Race’ drive mode. This should take more than adequate care of the two-door sports cars.

The SUV bit is then almost added on as an afterthought. The Stelvio is “100 percent rear-wheel drive”, but it also has the ability to send up to 60 percent of the power to the front wheels when needed. That’s pretty much it.

So, in other words, the Stelvio will not be another of those SUVs that consistently break their off-road promises. Simply because it hasn’t really made any. It’s primarily for hooning through the Alps on the weekend. Like every good, hedonistic Alfa should be.

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