01:36PM, Monday 30 September 2019
Cresting Shap Summit on the M6 on a wet Thursday doesn’t quite cut it when compared with crossing a high Alpine pass.
But the car in which the Shap trip was undertaken, an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Nero Edizione 2.2 Q4, makes up for it in its name alone. It, after all, borrows its moniker from the second-highest paved route traversing the Alps that has its motor sport history etched in stone.
The Stelvio, despite its mountain-topping name, is not the sort of motor in which to undertake serious attacks on the scenery. But it will cope with a farm track or two, although mud flaps for the front wheels would protect both the car’s flanks and the occupants’ clothes from gathering too much goo in filthy weather.
Last year we drove a 2.0 litre Stelvio with a petrol motor producing 400 Nm of torque at only 2,250 rpm but, with 280 bhp, it had many more horses to call on than any ploughing team to blitz its way to 62 mph from a standstill in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph.
This year’s Shap attempt was undertaken in a diesel version of the Stelvio equipped with a 2.2 litre turbodiesel producing 190 bhp at 3,500 rpm and a massive 450 Nm of torque at just 1,750 rpm. Like the petrol car, the engine was mated to an eight speed automatic gearbox while the reassurance of full 4x4 made light of heavy weather on UK motorways. Its top speed of 130 mph and 0-62 mph time of 7.6 seconds may seem blunted when compared with the petrol Stelvio but it is more than capable in traffic.
The transmission is best left to do its own thing but behind the steering wheel are overlarge paddles for manual shifting that do little more than get in the way particularly if, like us, you think the car’s computer will always do a better job than a human brain. Accessing the column stalks was far from easy so save yourself £275 and leave them unticked on the options list.
The interior of the petrol Stelvio was so black it felt a really dark place. Ironically, the Nero car had a light coloured headlining that lifted the gloom.
The enveloping six way adjustable power front seats also have four way lumbar adjustment, gripping well for enthusiastic cornering; the ride on the diesel car felt more compliant, too, and we covered almost 900 miles in relative comfort. The air-con also coped when we were stuck in a queue with outside temperatures at 33 degrees C.
The sat-nav screen is so small as to be useless – it’s like peering at a small scale atlas through a letterbox! In the old days when the pioneers tackled the Stelvio they did it with route notes and there’s no shame in doing that now, either, backed up by a £4.99 large scale AA road atlas.
The rear has plenty of leg space and the rear tailgate powers up to reveal a sizeable load area with, in the test car’s case, a £275(!) space saver spare wheel beneath the floor. There’s a good load cover and privacy glass all round at the back to help give both an air of exclusivity and raise security by hiding the contents when the car’s parked.
The rounded shape means the Stelvio is not entirely practical if your emphasis is on load carrying. Alfa doesn’t quote a figure with the seats down but as a five seater it offers 525 litres. Considering this is not serious off-road kit and only weighs 1.66 tonnes, its ability to pull 2.3 tonnes sounds impressive although applying the Caravan Club’s 85 per cent rule would mean only attaching a little over 1.4 tonnes to the towbar, quite a way short of what you might anticipate.
The diesel car averaged 43.8 mpg, a 42 per cent improvement on the petrol Stelvio and with lower CO2 emissions. It’s a good result and shows why diesel remains popular.
If you only ever own one Italian car, make sure it’s this one!
Car: Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 Turbodiesel Q4 AWD Nero Edizione
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 7.6 secs
Top speed: 130 mph
Bhp: 190 @ 3,500 rpm
Torque: 450 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
...and your wallet...
Combined: 43.5 mpg
CO2 emissions: 147 g/km
Best bits: best Italian car ever!
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