Testing cars from a few days to a couple of weeks is the only logistically feasible way for any publication to introduce you to, and go over, new models on a frequent basis. But what about showing what it’s really like living and maintaining a new vehicle that you drive all year around? Well, that’s where long term cars come in.
Without further ado, we welcome you to Carscoops’ first long term tester, a 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four putting out a healthy 280PS (276hp) and 296lb ft connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
We’re told it can reach 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds or 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, which sounds pretty darn impressive, especially for a base model. Oh, it’s also rear-driven most of the time, unless there’s a reason (read New England weather) for the Q4 system to send some torque in front and help you get out of a sticky (or twisty) situation.
It looks effortlessly cool too, in a way only Italians (and Steve McQueen) know how to pull off.
Our Stelvio of choice has a Silverstone Grey metallic exterior over a two-tone chocolate and black leather interior. It has a base MSRP of $41,995 that ascends to $48,835 when you include destination and tick a few boxes on the equipment list. That six grand was spent (by the dealer, not us) on 19-inch wheels ($750), a panomaric sunroof ($1,350), 6.5-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system ($650), Cold Weather package ($795) and Driver Assist package ($800), among others.
Did FCA give you a long-term Alfa Romeo loaner?
Ha, you wish! This is not a loaner from FCA, but a vehicle paid by and for Carscoops.
Why the Alfa Romeo Stelvio?
Like it or not – and we’re well aware that many enthusiasts are on the ‘not’ side, but more on that later, SUVs are here to stay. And there’s no segment more hotly contested (and lucrative for carmakers) today than compact SUVs. Consumers have more choices than they can possibly sort through, ranging from the modest and affordable to the very expensive and supercar-fast.
Going back for a moment to the part about enthusiasts, one of the few, if not the only non-high-performance model in this niche that promises to let you have (most of) your cake and eat it too, is Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio.
If that’s not enough of a reason, consider this; Alfa Romeo only recently made its re-appearance in the States, first by tipping its toes in the shallows with the niche 4C in 2014, before really entering the deep side of the pool with the Giulia sedan in 2016 and the Stelvio just last year, after abandoning the market in 1995. Did we mention that the Stelvio is Alfa’s first stab at an SUV?
All these arguments make it, at the very least, an intriguing presence worthy of a closer and more detailed look.
Best of both worlds? No, but it might be close enough for most
If you’re an enthusiast looking to make a compromise between personal driving impulses and more mundane practical family needs, it’s a solid choice on paper. Arguably, the main selling point for this group of consumers will be the Stelvio’s driving dynamics that are a lot closer to what you experience in a sports sedan than your typical crossover, and to a lesser degree, which obviously varies among buyers, its athletic Italian styling. Heck, one could easily argue that the Stelvio is more of a hot (medium-sized) hatch on stilts than an SUV, but that’s another story
On a more superficial level, if these things matter to you, an Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the new kid on the block and as such, a far less common sight on the road than any of the current luxury SUVs. Depending on where you live, we wouldn’t be surprised if you saw more BMW X3s than Toyota Corollas on the roads. So something tells us that, right now, the Stelvio will also appeal to those searching for a more exclusive experience and/or are suffering from Audi/BMW/Mercedes/Lexus-fatigue.
Is anyone going to talk about the elephant in the room?
There’s no way of getting around it, the biggest question mark that stems from Alfa’s sinful past, is the new Stelvio’s unknown reliability that is not helped by parent company Fiat-Chrysler Automobile’s (FCA) substandard track record. Another thing we’re curious to find out is the dealership experience, especially when compared to established players in this field like BMW. But hey, that’s what long term tests are for.
We’ll also have to warn you that along with impressing your neighbors and friends with your fancy Italian sports crossover, you’ll surely meet that guy. You know, the one who spoils your conversation starter with horror stories about 1970s and 1980s Italian rust buckets featuring electronics with a mind of their own. In my case, it was my father-in law with the mere mention of the name Alfa Romeo…
What do you do here? Fret not, we’re here to help you out. You can always give them the golden Alfa Romeo-owner or fan reply: “yes, but it has a soul”. How can one argue with that? Or better yet, quote Jeremy Clarkson’s 2008 review of the Mito, when he said that “owning an Alfa is a portal through which all petrolheads must pass if they genuinely want to know what it is that differentiates a car from a toaster or a washing machine”. That seems to work most of the times.
And so it begins
That’s all for now but after we pile up a few miles on this Italian newcomer, we’ll follow up with our first impressions on the Stelvio, before we move on to our long-term observations. In the meantime, we want to hear what you think about our initiative to add long term reviews and what you’d like to see and read from us in the future.