30---Okay, 75---Minutes With: The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD.
Publisher's note: Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days. Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series features cars we spent half an hour driving during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in Monterey, California.

Day one of Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade.  Once there, you swap cars with another journalist for the drive back, get a different car at The Quail, and repeat. Apart from an hour's lunch (this year sponsored by Nissan), this is the day from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., although heavy rains forced us to call it a day at 2:30 this year, reducing the number of cars we could drive.

Car number four for the day was the second Alfa Romeo I've ever driven, just minutes after the first, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD.

Map of route from Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade
Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade (courtesy Google Maps).
Laureles Grade is about five-and-a-half miles of non-stop twists and turns between Carmel Valley Road and CA 68, and thus perfect for a pack of automotive journalists and some high-grade machinery.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD.
I had a seatmate along for this trip...Alfa Romeo's Product Communications Manager Berj Alexanian, who, in addition to being a valuable source of information about the Stelvio, is a fellow jazz lover.  Good company and good tunes enhance a good drive.

The Stelvio is a crossover built on the Guilia sedan's platform, with the same 2.0-liter, 280-horsepower turbo four (EPA fuel economy estimate 22 city/28 highway) and imbued with the same sharp handling characteristics of the sedan.  That's not the easiest task.  Dynamics change when you make the vehicle taller, but hustling along the twisties of Laureles Grade (a slower hustle than usual, given the rain), the Stelvio felt very nearly as precise and passionate as the Guilia.

$43,995 is the base price for the Stelvio Ti Sport AWD (a front-wheel drive model can be had for $41,995).  For that, you get  the aforementioned mechanicals and handling prowess, as well as a rear back-up camera, front and rear parking assist, remote keyless entry, pushbutton start, a remote start system, stop-start systems, Alfa's DNA drive mode system, a carbon fiber driveshaft, cruise control, power folding heated mirrors, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, heated washer nozzles, a power liftgate with remote liftgate release, hill descent control, an engine cover with Alfa Romeo script, a tire service kit, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, an eight-speaker audio system with SiriusXM Satellite radio, rear dual charging USB ports, a leather-wrapped flat bottom steering wheel, with audio controls, an ambient lighting package, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with microphone, dual-zone climate control, a driver's side instrument panel storage bin, power six-way seats for the driver and front passenger, 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels, Brembo disc brakes with silver brake calipers with black script, high-performance Bi-Xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED taillamps, privacy  glass, aluminum roof rails and dual bright exhaust tips.

A very complete, well-equipped machine for $43,995.

Interior view of 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD interior.
This example also had extra-cost optional equipment:

  • Trofeo White Tri-Coat exterior paint: $2,200.
  • The Ti Sport AWD Package (Sport leather  seats, 20-inch aluminum wheels, custom painted brake calipers, gloss black window surround moldings, black roof rails, aluminum interior accents, bright aluminum pedals, a sport leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering column-mounted paddle shifters, a power adjustable bolster and sport-tuned suspension): $2,500.
  • Convenience Package (Cargo comp adjustable rail system, 115V auxiliary power outlet and a cargo net): $200.
  • Driver Assistance Static Package (Blind spot and cross-path detection, auto-dimming exterior mirrors): $650.
  • Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package (Adaptive cruise control with stop and go, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic high beam headlamp control and an infrared windshield): $1,500.
  • Dual-pane sunroof: $1,350.
  • Navigation: $950.
  • Harmon-Kardon premium audio system: $900.
With $995 destination charge, the bottom line wound up at $55,240.  That seems like a chunk, but  it's about $2,500 less than the BMW X3 I started the day in, and the two are direct competitors.  

As happened with the Mercedes-Benz, Berj and I waited for another car and another driver to arrive at the designated swap point at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but none showed up.  After 15 minutes, we drove it back to Quail Lodge.  Even though it was double the time it should have been, I'd still like more.  Berj, if you're reading this, a week in both the Guilia and the Stelvio would be deeply appreciated.