2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio First Drive: Offbeat Italian SUV comes to conquer

When you’re Alfa Romeo, and a decent chunk of your appeal is that you’re not the mainstream option, building an SUV like the 2018 Stelvio presents a tricky balance to strike. After all, Alfa drivers may not want a predictable car in their garage, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shareholders want mainstream sales. The Giulia sports sedan may have found favor among passionate drivers, but crossovers and SUVs are where the widest wallets are. Alfa Romeo had a choice, therefore, and the Stelvio is the answer, born of the Giulia but out hunting mutineers from the mainstream.

It’s an increasingly crowded segment, as Alfa Romeo knows all too well. As well as the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and BMW X3, there are more unusual options like Porsche’s Macan and, most recently, Jaguar’s F-PACE. Sales overall are booming – 1 in 4 premium vehicles sold last year was a premium SUV, in fact – but the competition is strong. “Our customers will be 100-percent conquest if you’re being realistic,” Pieter Hogeveen, director of Alfa Romeo North America, explains. “They’re used to a premium experience.”

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