While the Mazda CX-5 and Jaguar I-Pace impressed with their finesse and clever proportions at their respective unveiling, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV underwhelmed.
With Alfa Romeo currently trading on its looks (and sometimes handling), and very late to the premium SUV party, the Stelvio should have challenged existing rivals from Germany and England as the most beautiful and elegant SUV to date - as a bare minimum. But it’s not. The Jaguar F-Pace's longer nose, wide-flare rear haunch and sportily slim lights give it way more front-to-back presence and coherence, while the tautly proportioned and smooth-lined Porsche Macan is widely considered to be the best-handling SUV out there.
The Quadrifoglio ‘sports’ version of the Stelvio shown in LA may promise a beefy 505hp and a 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, but it’s going to have to be incredibly capable to be chosen before the likes of Porsche and Jaguar without looks to swoon over too. And under the harsh glare of the motorshow lights the red Stelvio’s few feature lines, so-so surfacing and slightly dumpy silhouette failed to stand out as anything new, and were certainly not elegant. The humdrum rear lamp graphics in particular add to its woes, neither accentuating or acting in harmony with its side and tailgate feature creases.
From a practical viewpoint, the ground clearance of the Stelvio seemed very slight as well, and its alloys far too proud of their tyres width-wise to be sensible, making us wonder what the ‘U’ in the car’s SUV billing is. Indeed, its low stance gives the car more of a feeling of a large hatchback than a purposeful and sporty SUV.
Maybe regular versions of the Stelvio will be more convincing – just as the normal models of the Giulia sedan were, compared to the Quadrifoglio version – but for now, it’s hard to see who will be bowled enough over by this design to purchase, unless they’re hellbent on owning an SUV with an Alfa badge at all costs. Perhaps most tellingly of all, the official press release on the car barely talks up the car’s design at all, devoting most of its headlines to performance and precious little to aesthetics.