Not too long ago, Alfa Romeo was a brand in trouble.
It had just two cars to its name – the MiTo city car and Golf-sized Giulietta – neither of which were anything close to class-leading; the bulk of their competitors were much more accomplished on the road, with greater reliability and more attractive pricing.
Consequently, sales figures have been in freefall for years. In 2016, it shifted just 4,881 cars in the UK – a whopping 46 per cent drop on what it managed in 2009. Hyundai managed to sell more than that in December alone (5,625).
In 2017 though, fans of the iconic Italian brand are hoping for a return to the glory days, with the launch of the 3-Series rivalling Giulia and the car you can see in these pictures – the Stelvio.
It’s Alfa’s first ever SUV and with hiked-up soft-roaders being all the rage right now, it’s arguably the brand’s best shot at reversing those woeful sales numbers.
So what should you know about it?
From launch, buyers can choose from two engines: a 2.2-litre 207bhp diesel or a two-litre petrol with 276bhp. Both come with all-wheel drive, mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
Alfa claims that the petrol offers best-in-class acceleration, racing from zero to 62mph in just 5.7 seconds and onto a top speed of 143mph.
Driven with a lighter right boot, it can return 40.4mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 161g/km CO2.
Diesel drivers can enjoy lower running costs with CO2 emissions of 127g/km and 58.9mpg. Top speed is lowered to 134mph and it remains a nippy thing with a 6.6-second 0-62mph sprint.
September will see the arrival of a 177bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine in all and rear-wheel drive, as well as a 2.0-litre petrol engine, with 197bhp and all-wheel-drive.
The Stelvio is offered in four different forms – each with an increasingly fleshed-out list of tech and gadgets.
Entry-level models come on 17-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels, and feature an impressive amount of kit, such as active cruise control, emergency self-braking, lane departure warning, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio with eight speakers, electric parking brake, rear parking sensors, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring system, and Alfa’s 8.8-inch touchscreen.
Second tier Stelvio Super models upgrade the wheels to 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and add front parking sensors, leather and cloth seats, and two-tone dashboard and door panels.
The Stelvio Special trim unlocks 19-inch ten-spoke alloys, 35W bi-xenon headlights, chrome window surround, heated leather seats and steering wheel, power folding mirrors, red brake calipers and loads of aluminium on the door sills, pedals, footrest and shift paddles on the steering column.
Finally, the limited launch edition Milano Edizione comes on 20-inch V-spoke alloy wheels, with a ten-speaker audio system upgrade with subwoofer and ambient light, rear camera, privacy glass and a convenience pack comprising keyless entry, exterior door handle courtesy lights, air quality system and Athermic windshield
So what can you expect to pay for all this? Well, for the base Stelvio (2.2-litre diesel 177bhp RWD), Alfa wants at least £33,990 on the road, and an extra £700 for the entry-level petrol (£34,690).
Buyers after a bit more equipment can pay between £36,190 and £38,490 for the Super models, with Speciale Stelvios priced at £41,490 reaching £43,690.
Finally, the range-topping launch edition – Milano Edizione – bears a ticket price of £43,990. That’s for the 207bhp diesel; its 276bhp petrol counterpart is the most expensive Stelvio at £45,390.
You can have one from September.