The engine is the same, the gearbox is the same, the brakes are the same and the suspension is, mostly, the same, with some tiny tweaks that’ll stop the tread of the tyres scrubbing and juddering quite as much if you’ve got a lot of lock on the steering and are manoeuvring into a parking space. That means a 510PS (375kW), 600Nm (400lb ft), twin-turbocharged V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic, 360mm and 350mm brake discs front and rear respectively, and double-wishbones up front and a multi-link setup at the rear.
The result is the same driving experience, which I can tell you is not a disappointment in the slightest. The Stelvio weighs 306kg more than the Giulia, which in turn means there’s more pitch under braking, so the car generally feels like a slightly weightier beast. But there are few fast SUVs that hide their mass so well. An SUV shouldn’t be able to sprint to 62mph in 3.8 seconds, or, if you’re bored of owning a driving licence, do 176mph flat out. Because the steering is so fast, it further convinces your head that actually the Stelvio isn’t as big as you think. You’ll quickly find yourself flying through corners at frankly silly speeds, and the Stelvio will just lap it up and encourage you to keep going.
In some respects it’s a more approachable machine with a deeper desire to goad you on than the Giulia, too. There are four drive modes, Advanced Efficient, Natural, Dynamic and Race, and it’s that final mode that’ll turn all of the traction and stability systems off entirely. Although Alfa says the Stelvio is rear-wheel-drive until the rear tyres are calling for help from the fronts (you can encourage a snap of oversteer in the wet if you really want to), the four-wheel-drive system is so fast and so efficient at moving the power around that, even with everything off, you aren’t always having to think about the rear is going to let go. You can enjoy the engine and the gearbox without having to be quite as cautious.
That engine? It remains a scintillating thing. SUVs feel as if they are somehow more sensible devices, perhaps because they’re what many people chose to carry around their children and pets around in. That’s easy to do in the Stelvio, to play the sensible, responsible adult – perhaps it’s even easier to do in the Stelvio than in the Giulia. And then every now and then you’ll wake up the engine and hear a noise not too dissimilar from a firework emerge from the four exhausts. It’s hard not to giggle when that happens.
The only real dynamic pitfall can be found in the gearbox, which is very good but sometimes gives you an odd, small surge of torque if you’re changing up a gear manually with, let’s say, half throttle.