AMERICA’S FIRST SKI-READY ALFA ROMEO IS—THE FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVE STELVIO SUV THE LATEST EFFORT TO REINVIGORATE A CENTURY-OLD BRAND

BY EVAN MONROE

The Stelvio is Italy’s highest mountain pass, and Highway 38, which crosses it over 15 miles in length and with more than 75 hairpin bends has iconic status. A number of 38’s challenges, not surprisingly, have their basis in climate the right car has to, first and foremost, weather extremes. All else comes second, including the joys of sport driving.

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As part of a gradual reintroduction to the American marketplace, marked by the 4C, 4C Spyder, and Giulia and Giulia Quadrifoglio sedans, Turin, Italy based Alfa Romeo has rolled out something new in its more than 100 year history: a U.S. released SUV. Its name, taken from that legendary pass, represents an e ort to, as Alfa put it, “rewrite the rules in the medium sized premium SUV segment.”

First, and in keeping with its tradition of space-reduction innovations, the Stelvio (be warned) ain’t a Range Rover in dimension. Its pro le honors the squat, swoopy lines of the Giulia, only with an extended hatch section, and at 15 feet in length and 5.5 feet high, sits more like a compact than a family truckster. Weight savings are courtesy of extended use of carbon fiber for the driveshaft and aluminum for the engines, suspension systems, hood, wings, doors, and tailgate.

A 280-horsepower turbo, hitched to an automatic 8 speed tranny and Q4 all wheel drive, is sporty enough and the suspension is a gas but the zero-to-60 time of 5.4 seconds is only a second faster than a Lincoln Navigator, and nowhere near sport SUV competitors like the Porsche Cayenne, which ticks it o in 3.8 seconds. So, as with so many things Alfa, is helps to be a fan of the brand and appreciate its eccentricities. We love, for example, the TFT color information display cluster ( 3.5 or 7-inch options) which supplies essential information, while the driver/car interface consists of rotary controls for the Alfa Connect system, which depending on the version, has a 6.5 or 8.8-inch display, with 3D navigation function a new design developed in partnership with Magneti Marelli. Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian detection are great touches, too, along with Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring (with Rear Cross path Detection).

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Timepiece Spread

Prices start at $45,000.

Ray Catena Alfa Romeo
133 NJ-35 #1, Oakhurst / 877.962.2593
raycatenaalfaromeo.com