First Drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce

by Michael Satterfield - 03/15/2023

There is something about an Alfa Romeo that just gets my blood pumping, every car enthusiast must experience the thrill and excitement that comes with driving even the most basic Alfa. At a glance, the Stelvio is a more handsome version of the practical midsize SUV that every carmaker produces these days, but it like most Italian cars has its quirks. 

The Alfa Romeo Stilvo we are driving this week is the Veloce trim, which is Italian for "quick" which means it has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 280hp and 360 lb-ft of torque, it is quick, but it's not as fast as the 505 hp Quadrifoglio, however, the Veloce starts at around $30,000 less than the four-leaf-clover version, making its high-50s price point seem downright reasonable. Despite not packing all the heat of the V6, the four-banger is peppy and fun to drive, it really comes to life on the back roads, where you can play with the paddle shifters and make full use of the excellent brakes. The Stelvio doesn't react like most SUVs and is more like driving an oversized GTI, it makes most other SUVs in this segment feel clumsy and unrefined. When you have a chance to really drive it, the Stelvio reminds you it is an Alfa Romeo and comes from a long line of amazing sports cars. 

First Drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce

Outside of the driver-focused nature of the interior, the guts of Stelvio just don't stack up well against competitors like the BMW X3, Genesis GV70, or the Mercedes-GLC. A tiny 8.8-inch infotainment screen looks outdated and is honestly hard to see at a glance, the back seat area is cramped and cargo space lags behind most of the competition. Since most SUVs are bought for their overall usefulness, the only reason I can imagine anyone would buy a Stelvio is because of how much fun it is to drive plus the undoubted style points you get when you pull up to the valet stand because let's be honest, the Alfa does just feel special. 

For me, if I was going to spend nearly $60,000 on an impractical Alfa Romeo, I would buy a used Alfa Romeo 4C and fully embrace the hellish nightmare of Italian car ownership in a vehicle with a fabric roof, no back seat, and no trunk. But, I did try to daily drive a Fiat X1/9 in Los Angeles traffic, so I am more of a glutton for punishment than most. Even though it hasn't been updated much since its introduction in 2016, the Stelvio still draws you in with its handsome looks and is for those who want to stand out of the crowd, because even without the Ocra GT Tri-Coat paint (a $2,500 option) the Stelvio cuts a strong profile and stands out in the parking lot. Personally, I'd take the Misano Blue Metallic if I was building out my own Stelvio. 

It is hard to make any case for the Stelvio outside of the emotional appeal and fun driving dynamics, it isn't very practical, as a Hyundai Santa Fe has nearly 18 more cubic feet of cargo space. It isn't packed with amazing technology, that same Hyundai Santa Fe packs more standard technology and a larger more modern infotainment display. The Alfa isn't cheap, as the Hyundai Santa Fe Limited starts at just $41,570 and even comes with a better warranty... but the Alfa Romeo has style, exclusivity, and a driving experience that you just can't replicate no matter how much you try to rationalize the decision, the Alfa is the SUV you buy because you want to, the Hyundai Santa Fe is a safe drama free choice, but if you are even considering a metallic gold turbocharged Itliana SUV just admit you are looking for a little more drama in your life. 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce Q4 Specs