It seems like high-performance and high-end SUVs and crossovers are in their prime right now. You can choose from a lot of two-ton people movers that can turn corners faster than your dad’s old Corvette. For the 2018 model year, Alfa Romeo joined the talk with the powerful Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The 2024 Stelvio Competizione, which has an active suspension and a lot of high-end features, is now available. It is a step between the less exciting models and the more expensive 505-hp Quadrifoglio.
The Competizione is all about luxury, just like the Veloce trim it’s based on. This Alfa looks like the real deal from the outside. The Comp-only matte Moonlight Gray paint choice makes the car feel more high-end, and the Stelvio gets new LED matrix headlights that glare menacingly out of the darkness with three half-rings on each side, just like its sedan partner, the Giulia. The front end is finished off with a new form of the V-Scudetto grille, and the back has new taillights.
When you get inside the Stelvio Comp, the double-humped top dashboard is made of real leather instead of the rough-grain finish that comes on lower-end models. The 14-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system sounds great, but the entertainment system’s slow software made things hard for us. That problem seemed to go away after switching to Apple CarPlay. There is red stitching on the leather seats of the Comp and special “Competizione” logos on the sides and headrests. Unfortunately, the Alfa also has some switchgear that sounds like it came from a parts bin every time you try to change the temperature setting. It looks nice that the shifter is wrapped in leather, but if you put your hand against the transmission tunnel, you’ll see a cheap grooved-plastic finish.
Thanks to Alfa’s skill to make an emotional powertrain, the Competizione is pretty much saved. At a starting price of $58,520, the Competizione might have gotten something closer to the Quadrifoglio’s 505-hp twin-turbo V-6, but alas, it didn’t. The normal 2.0-liter turbo four, which makes 280 horsepower, is still pretty good. An eight-speed automatic gear sends those horses to all four wheels. The last Stelvio we tried with this engine got to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, which is fast enough.
The power comes on quickly, and the exhaust sounds great when you’re going fast. When you step on the gas from a stop, you hear a short chirp of distress before the tires hook up and push the Alfa forward with force. The Stelvio is surprisingly fun to drive for its class, even with the mode selection set to the natural setting. The steering is quick and straight, but it could do with more input.
It’s more fun when you turn the mode selection to Dynamic. The Competizione has Alfa’s adaptive damper setup, just like the QF. This means you can switch between a quieter setting for daily driving and a stiffer mode for more exciting drives. The suspension mutes all but the sharpest bumps in its “mellower” mode. In its “sportier” mode, on the other hand, it sends more minor vibrations through the seat bottoms. No matter where you put it, the frame feels light and quick. The Stelvio is very sporty, and it makes you want to grab the big shift paddles on the steering column and pass slower cars.