Alfa Romeo’s stylish and agile Stelvio compact SUV now has a new trim level.
The 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce slots between the Ti and range-topping Quadrifoglio, replacing the outgoing Ti Sport trim as the performance gateway to the Stelvio lineup. And perform it does. Its brilliant chassis and eager 280-hp engine work in concert to give this luxuriously appointed Italian the undisputed crown as the sports car of SUVs.
Trust Alfa Romeo to fashion a compact SUV that can legitimately be called beautiful. It all starts with the face and that iconic V Scudetto grille, here rendered in “Dark Miron” as part of the Veloce package. The Veloce also gets black window surrounds and body-coloured side sills, wheel arches, and a rear valance from which two business-like black exhaust tips protrude.
The shiny black rear diffuser is topped with a swath of honeycomb mesh. Setting the whole look off are dark 21-inch five-hole alloys framing red brake calipers with white lettering. This tester is dipped in a stunning shade of paint dubbed Ocra GT ($2,700).
For 2022, the Stelvio gets a standard safety suite that includes blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights, plus front and rear park sensors. Included with the Veloce package are Level 1 and 2 autonomy, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, full-speed collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, and driver attention assist. No head-up-display is offered, and, strangely, the Stelvio makes do with bi-xenon headlights instead of LED units.
The Stelvio’s tidy dimensions and sloping rear roofline mean it’s not as roomy as most rivals. Nonetheless, with a broad and flat cargo area measuring 524 L behind the second row, this compact crossover is plenty useful. The 20/40/20 second row easily folds to open up 1,600 L of space. This tester had the optional $600 compact spare. Without it, there’s some useful storage under the floor. The Veloce gets a 115-volt power outlet in the rear.
The Stelvio Veloce’s 1,361-kg (3,000-lb) towing capacity is low for this class, and while all-wheel drive is standard, this Italian is tuned for on-road acumen and isn’t particularly well-suited to off-road adventuring.
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
The 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio gets high marks for its logical ergonomics and easy familiarity. A trio of large rotary knobs – still the best layout in the business – control HVAC functions, and the 8.8-inch dash-mounted touchscreen interface can also be controlled by a large rotary controller on the console in a similar fashion to BMW’s system. Also from the BMW playbook is the electronic shift wand.
Seat and steering wheel heat are controlled by hard buttons on the dash, and the audio volume knob falls easily to hand, just to the right of the shifter. Nudging said knob left or right controls tuning. And really, is anything cooler than a steering wheel-mounted ignition button?
Another rotary controller marked DNA (dynamic, normal, advanced efficiency) calls up the drive modes. Bucking the trend towards full digital instrumentation, the Stelvio delights with big analogue gauges for both the tachometer and speedometer. These flank a central information display. The clever standard wireless charging station is more of a slot, really, and it’s placed just ahead of the central armrest.
The Stelvio is a driver’s vehicle, and the plethora of logical, tactile controls keeps eyes on the road where they belong. Bravo, Alfa. [More like molto bene, amirite? – Ed.]
Standard kit for the 2022 Stelvio includes heat for the front seats, rear seats, and steering wheel, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, a dual-pane sunroof, and a power tailgate. The Veloce package brings more goodies to the table. Along with the aforementioned safety and visual enhancements, the cabin benefits from sport leather seats (power eight-way adjustability with lumbar support for both driver and passenger), aluminum trim, leather-trimmed dash and upper doors, and a very good 14-speaker surround-sound system. The Veloce package also includes a limited-slip rear differential and 21-inch alloys.
There are plenty of 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engines out there, but this unit is a particularly good one. It puts out a healthy 280 hp at 5,200 rpm and 306 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, and delivers that in a linear and lag-free manner. It also makes a pretty decent noise when caned, although unlike its vocal big brother Quadrifoglio and its rip-snorting Ferrari-derived V6, there are no anti-social pops or woofs coming from the tailpipes here. It would be nice to get a taste of that when in dynamic mode.
The front leather sports seats in the Veloce are superb, delivering a terrific blend of sporting support and long-distance comfort. Ventilation is not on the menu. The second-row outboard seats (also heated) are nicely contoured as well, but the Stelvio’s tidy dimensions translate to less legroom than seen in many rivals. However, with the front seat set for my six-foot frame, I could pull off the proverbial “sit behind myself” without my knees rubbing against the back of the front seat (although just barely).
Where the Veloce takes a bit of a hit in comfort is in ride quality, thanks to a sporty tune, lack of adaptive damping, and the 21-inch low-profile tires. Indeed, the ride is far from punishing and generally refined, but the constant jostling on anything less than smooth pavement could get tiresome for those who aren’t directly benefiting from this Italian’s impressive handling.
Driving Feel: 9.5/10
This is where the Stelvio Veloce rises above the fray, displaying balance, communication, and a sense of dynamic exuberance that one will find nowhere else in the compact crossover world. The driving position and fab seats are the starting points. Yes, the Porsche Macan is terrific, and arguably more refined and relaxed, but there’s something in the way the Stelvio goes down the road con brio that sets it apart.
The steering is light, quick and alive, and in dynamic mode, where throttle and transmission mapping ramp up to meet a more lenient stability control, the Veloce feels more sports car than sport ute. Playing along perfectly here is the expertly tuned eight-speed automatic transmission that, in manual mode, snaps off shifts with near dual-clutch urgency. Ah, and Italians know how to do paddle shifters. These massive alloy ones, fixed to the steering column, are the real deal. They are beautifully damped, have just the right amount of travel, and make the most satisfying click when operated.
In normal mode the Veloce’s mechanicals relax, making for a smooth and unobtrusive driving environment. On the highway, this Alfa ‘ute is calm and tracks with the expected European precision.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) pegs the four-cylinder 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio at 10.8 L/100 km city, 8.3 highway, and 9.6 combined, which compares favourably to the four-pot Porsche Macan at 12.4/9.3/11.0, and the BMW X3 xDrive30i at 11.0/8.5/9.9. This cold winter week of testing netted 11.4 L/100 km. Premium-grade fuel is required.
With an as-tested price of just under $71,000 before tax (including that $2,700 paint job and a $2,095 freight charge), the well-equipped 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce presents itself as a decent value when looking at the other exceptional handling Euro compact crossover: the Porsche Macan. Spec a four-cylinder Macan with 21-inch wheels and similar features and you’re spending well over $80,000. Other direct rivals – the Jaguar F-Pace R-Dynamic or BMW X3 xDrive30i – line up very closely when similarly equipped.
In the ever-expanding world of premium compact crossovers, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is such a unique entry – not only for its striking good looks, but for the way it goes down the road. The new-for-2022 Veloce trim ramps up the visuals and adds performance enhancements like the 21-inch alloys and limited-slip rear differential. While not as uncompromising and insanely fast as its Quadrifoglio big brother, the Veloce still fizzes with energy and drips in passione. It’s also $35,000 cheaper.
The 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce is not for everybody, because not everybody is up for a love affair with their compact SUV. But for those who are, the first flick of those alloy shift paddles, and the first corner carved, could very well seal the deal.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||280 hp @ 5,200 rpm|
|Peak Torque||306 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||10.8 / 8.3 / 9.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||524 / 1,600 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce|
|Price as Tested||$71,090|
$3,300 – Ocra GT Tricoat Paint, $2,700; Compact Spare Tire, $600