HomeTechnologyDare to be different with Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4

Dare to be different with Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4

Andrew Muzamhindo
THE all new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 is now available in Zimbabwe.

In life the company you keep can more or less reveal your character. Whenever my father wanted to dissuade one of my young brothers from hanging out with certain friends he would say, “show me your friends and I will tell you your character”.

The company you keep moulds your future. I would go further and say show me your competition and I will tell you about character and personality.

The Stelvio competes with potent vehicles. A quick look at the Stelvio competition will show you that this is not your ordinary SUV.  The Stelvio inherits perhaps the most important quality of any Alfa Romeo: uniquely desirable styling that stands out in the SUV crowd.

It competes against one of Audi’s finest: The Q5 is a top-selling SUV in the Ingolstadt-based brand’s stable and the latest version impresses as a well-finished product that exudes refinement.

Interestingly, it is rubbing shoulders with Bavarian all-rounder: The exterior styling of the new BMW X3 may seem too evolutionary for some tastes, but the Munich-based marque’s executive SUV has been improved in many ways.

As if it is not enough, it goes toe-to-toe with the Sinuous feline: The F-Pace, which has been reinvigorated offering a more fashionable appearance.

Primarily it is the closest to matching the power and torque of the Alfa. The Stelvio refuses to be the underdog as it goes hand in hand with the award-winner: The Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d 4Matic AMG with its prestigious image, smart interior and willing performance.

It takes the fight to the full-house Lexus: The top-of-the-range NX300 F-Sport, which is very well specified and, therefore, looks awesome, but perhaps it lacks the requisite star appeal in this segment.

However, this is for those people, who are nostalgic about top luxury but do not want to be showy about it. The Stelvio is for those who appreciate fast paced cars with a luxury interior. They have virtuous taste about comfortable fast SUV rides.

Of late, Zimoco had stopped importing the Alfa Romeo brand. I suspect because of pricing and demand disparities. They must be reintroducing it into the market largely to trends on the local and world market.

Their able marketing team must have done enough homework on how they will promote this beautiful brand. Competition is tough in the SUV market, a situation which requires good market research to understand how best you can meet the needs of a fussy customer, who wants the best at a reasonable price.

Most customers want something that will get the town talking or noticing. A research conducted by CNBC revealed that men love their cars for four months, while women love them for three years from the time they buy it.

This means funds permitting men could change cars every four months. It would be no surprise to find men discussing cars each time they meet. Therefore, it shows their attachment to cars.

Women are mostly interested in practicality of cars. But men want more from a car. Majority of men see their cars and trucks as sensitive beings with unique personalities and quirks and needs.

This raises a question to whether a car or truck has more than a practical purpose. Absolutely! Usually when a car-loving guy looks at a special vehicle, he will often see the beauty and the power before he gives any thought to concerns like fuel-efficiency or the monetary value of it.

That is when you hear men saying, “I like to listen to my car. You can hear when the turbo clicks in — that vacuum-cleaner effect. You can just feel the giddy up effect, and the sensation of power is brilliant — you can feel it through the steering wheel and the back of the seat.”

There is no doubt that the new Stelvio will become part of this conversation on golf courses, pubs, work, homes, and even churches.

When we think of seminal products for a particular brand, the Hilux would be considered one for Toyota, the Polo Vivo one for Volkswagen, but for Alfa Romeo, the product in its current portfolio that carries the most weight is certainly its Stelvio SUV.

Stelvio is definitely worth a look if you are bored of the German and British establishment. It has got style and flair in spades. Locally it is cheaper than the Jaguar F -Pace.

Styling

There is no getting past the sensational exterior of the Stelvio, and despite styling being an inherently subjective matter, I am certain that there are very few, who would argue that this is an achingly pretty SUV, which garners attention wherever it will go.

Interior and space

As you enter the Stelvio you will be greeted with additions in the form of on-board tech, with the Drive Assistance Pack that includes Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist and high-beam assist, while there are also electrically adjustable front seats, the addition of rear USB ports, a wireless charging pad and a rear cargo net.

The same 8.8-inch infotainment system does duty in the centre console, and features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is reasonably good, but lagging behind some key rivals now.

From a practicality perspective, the Stelvio offers healthy 525-litres of boot space, which extends to 1 600-litres with the rear seats folded flat, while the rear occupant space is good for the segment. For those looking to tow, there is a 2 300kg limit, but l shudder to think of what the fuel returns would be like.

Performance

Powering the Stelvio is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 206kW and 400Nm of torque. The engine is paired with an 8-speed ZF-sourced torque converter automatic gearbox that sends power to all four wheels.

Performance is more than adequate, with the 0-100km/h sprint time being dispatched in 5.7 seconds and the top speed pegged at 230km/h. Weighing in at 1 660kg, the Stelvio is lighter than key rivals, which may explain why it feels as sprightly as it does when changing direction.

I am told the driving experience on offer from the Stelvio is surprisingly sporty when “D’ is selected on the DNA driving mode selector. It has an incredibly direct steering response and handling characteristics that make it genuinely fun to drive, which some may see as entirely pointless in an SUV, while others consider it an endearing characteristic.

Leave the vehicle in its default “N” driving mode and it goes about its business in a rather fuss-free manner, offering the expected refinement, comfort and occupant satisfaction one anticipates from a car at this price point. I cannot wait to get my test drive soon from Zimoco business development manager Manfred Chaniwa.

Safety

The Stelvio range was crash-tested by the ANCAP assessment programme in 2017, where it achieved the maximum 5-Star rating. The rating includes 97% for adult occupant safety, 84% for child occupant safety, 71% for pedestrian safety and 60% for its safety assistance systems.

Fuel economy

The Stelvio’s perceived Achilles’ heel is its fuel consumption, which Alfa Romeo claim a fuel consumption figure of 7.0 L/100km. However, the target market for these cars is not the person, who will be checking the fuel gauge every minute.

Pricing

The Stelvio retails for US$110 000 and comes pretty much fully specified. The model comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty. Contact Zimoco for a test drive. By the way test drives are free.

Verdict

It is one vehicle you will enjoy hoping into. I loved the sound it makes when you hit the ignition button. Its looks are mesmerising, which is important when shopping for a premium performance SUV.

Specifications

Power Max:  206 Kw

Power Max rpm:  5250 r/min

Torque Max:  400 Nm

Torque Max rpm:  2250 r/min

Engine Size:  2.0 l

Cylinders:  4

Fuel Type:  Petrol

Engine Position / Location:  Front

Transmission type:  Automatic

Gear ratios quantity:  8

Gearshift:  Automatic

0-100Kph:  5.7 s

Top speed:  230 Km/h

Gear shift paddles:  yes

All-wheel-drive:  yes

Turbocharger:  yes

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com.

 

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