Alfa Romeo have revealed the standard edition Stelvio soft-roader CUV raised hatch product.
Based purely on a careful glance of the publicity photos, the car radiates much less of a displeasing character than the full-on range-toppers that have been shown so far.
Much the same applies to the Alfa Romeo Giulia which, in its top-spec, looks slightly grotesque. In its standard form it’s nice enough. Turning to other brands, the AMG versions of Mercedes cars all overcook it. I would wager that if the AMG running gear was transferred to the body-shell of a base model the vehicle would even perform slightly better.
BMW’s M-series cars and Audi’s S-lines carry the performance baggage with a little less effort and don’t shout quite as much from the kerbside as you go by.
The principle behind launching the range toppers (the Stinger has just done it) is to show the best version and let the after-glow trickle and ooze down over the lesser cars. I’d like to turn this philosophy on its head and put it into a wheelie-bin. Seeing as I am extremely moderate, I’d argue that a nice-looking mid ranger would be the best model to show in the launch photos. Or perhaps the best of the “normal looking” range would be another way to style it.
That way the majority of customers who are never going to buy the 560 bhp, 4×4 V8 version will not be deterred by the flashy addenda that usually adorn such chest wig cars.
With such a strategy the manufacturer then has something left for the end of the product “striptease”, a product-range money shot, if you like, for those who don’t like to leave things to the imagination. This gives a chance for a new bit of news, say about six months after launch: “Wolseley reveals Turbo V6 Raceline version of the 31/34 soft-roader”. In truth, there are not so many of these extreme cars sold and I think there is such a difference in character that anyone who really goes for a medallion-man version is going to be cross-shopping other such cars not vehicles down in the same range.
So, I want to know what the standard Stinger looks like. Some of our stalwart correspondents have shown less than total approval of the car. I’d even agree that it’s probably going to be just about alright. However, it’s not up against stiff competition in the looks stakes. The Giulia is not bad in its standard form and the Jaguar XE is growing on me. I even think – at long last – Mercedes have somehow turned out a quite attractive vehicle in the C-class. A few other parameters could be what will make the real difference to the Stinger, not the existence of the largely hypothetical V8 monster they unveiled recently.
Maybe the Stelvio will turn out to be a nice kind of car within the modern idiom – I can see that more easily now the make-up is off and the pose has been dropped.