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Alfa Romeo has revealed South African launch pricing and specifications for its new Stelvio SUV, which will find its way into SA showrooms this November.

With prices starting at R810,000; there is only one engine-derivative but two specification variants. The Super and the Launch Edition priced at R946,000. Both are powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 206kw and 400nm. The 4-cylinder unit, built entirely from aluminium is combined with the 8-speed automatic transmission, driving a carbon drive shaft and Q4 all-wheel drive system. The Stelvio boasts a class-leading 0-100kph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 230kph. The range-topping Quadrifoglio model will likely follow at a later date.

For reference, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 - derived from a Ferrari - and develops 375kw and 600nm. As such, the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 rival boasts stupendous figures, with 0-100kph dealt with in 3.9 seconds, reaching a top speed of 283kph. It also went onto set the record for the fastest SUV to lap the Nurburgring.

Alfa Romeo hopes the Stelvio will become its biggest seller in SUV-crazy South Africa, the moment it hits the showrooms this week, and while a steep price tag could make potential customers think twice, the Stelvio’s stylish looks, quality interior and sharp handling should ensure that it takes the fight to rivals such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace and Mercedes GLC.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the second new model in what is set to be a big product charge for the Italian outfit. Alfa’s entire fleet will be overhauled by 2020, with eight new cars promised by the end of the decade. So we can expect to see six more Alfas over the coming years.

Against the tape measure, the new Alfa Stelvio comes in at 4,7m long, 2,2m wide and 1,7m tall. That makes it almost identical in length to the Porsche Macan, but significantly wider. Its design is heavily inspired by the Giulia; borrowing key styling cues such as the narrow LED headlamps, trademark shield-shaped grille and gaping air intakes. Similarities with the saloon extend beneath the skin, with the Stelvio underpinned by the same aluminium chassis – made up of double wishbone front suspension and four-and-a-half link setup at the rear.

The minimalist, driver-focused cabin uses a mixture of wood and fabrics. An 8.8-inch infotainment system is housed in the centre of the dash and operated via the control wheel on the centre console - standard equipment. With a class-leading voice recognition system, the device allows full connectivity with all mobile devices (with Apple iOS and Android operating systems). The overall cabin architecture is carried over from the Giulia, with the hooded instrument binnacles, undulating dashboard and driver-focused controls.

Alfa’s Q4 four-wheel drive system and torque vectoring technology features in the Stelvio. Under normal driving conditions the Stelvio sends 100% of its power to the rear axle, but the Q4 system continuously monitors torque split between the front and rear wheels. An active transfer case and front differential allow up to 50% of the engines power to be transferred to the front axle.

Combined with torque vectoring technology – a first on any Alfa Romeo – torque can then be optimised between the rear wheels individually thanks to two clutches in the rear axle. Alfa claims a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and the Stelvio tips the scales at 1,660kg. Aluminium has been used extensively on the SUV, with a platform, engines, suspension, door, bonnet and bootlid all made from the lightweight material.

At the time of launch, the Stelvio will be available in Super as well as the limited First Edition with the choice of eleven body colours and three alloy wheels (from 18" to 20").

The Super version features 18" alloy wheels, leather seats in three colours (black, brown and red), and complimentary colours for the dashboard and door panels and sill with steel insert. The Stelvio Super can also be ordered with the optional Luxury Pack which includes seats with electrical adjustment and heating, as well as real wood inserts and aluminium inserts and steel pedal trims.

The First Edition features all the standard equipment of the Super, with the addition of 20" alloy wheels, full grain leather upholstery, 10 speaker sound system, Active Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Monitoring electric sunroof and numerous other customer benefits.

The Stelvio is expected to be the first of at least two other SUVs from Alfa Romeo. Alfa bosses have previously expressed an interest in developing a larger SUV based on the Maserati Levante’s underpinnings. A smaller Audi Q3 SUV rival is also understood to be in the pipeline.

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