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Faceoff: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio vs. 2018 Jaguar F-Pace

faceoff

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio vs. 2018 Jaguar F-Pace

The Stelvio's Italian charm will lure luxury buyers looking for something different, while the F-Pace brings a refined style and sporty touch without sacrificing space

As Canadian utility-vehicle sales rise, so do the options. For years, luxury consumers have enjoyed the traditional German go-tos available from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, but a couple other European players from Alfa Romeo and Jaguar have joined the CUV/SUV fray. Recently, the Italian brand under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles umbrella introduced the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, while the Brits have trumpeted their all-new Jaguar F-Pace. As both fight for market share and additional exposure, here's how they measure up against each other in the latest faceoff.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport AWD

The Stelvio provides consumers with a break from tradition.

Tech Specs

Looks

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For Alfa's first ever crossover, it's done a smashing job by bringing some flair and extreme curvature to a compact segment that tends to get caught up with similar silhouettes. The Stelvio continues the styling tone set by its Giulia sedan, but this time in a heightened configuration. Up front, it dons a striking chord as distinctly Alfa with its trilobo grille and scudetto coat of arms or badge. The whole look is clean, edgy and exciting. Compared to the F-Pace, it's smaller in stature, but provides a glimpse of its performance potential. In the back, the Stelvio finishes the job with a more conventional hatchback shape, but the addition of horizontally stretched taillights and a dual exhaust keeps that spark going.

Interior

The Stelvio’s interior is comfortable and spacious for front-row passengers.

Inside the Stelvio, that excitement can, at the start, turn to confusion. It takes time to get adjusted to the layout with the engine start/stop button situated on the steering wheel, radio volume knob to the far right behind the complicated gearshift and I still have not figured out how to manage the full-colour instrument-cluster button.

Once everything is discovered, the ride is comfortable and spacious for front-row passengers, who are treated to bolstered seats in the Ti trim. The back row, however, doesn't share the same spaciousness as the F-Pace, and taller individuals will feel a bit crammed. Plush leather seating is found throughout the trim line, along with a leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel with massive paddle shifters, as well as real wood accoutrements that complement its cool and luxurious vibe.

The car dazzles with plenty of pep, especially in city traffic where it shows off its agility, balance and precise steering.


Performance

Powering the Stelvio is a turbocharged, 2.0-litre inline-four that produces 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque matched to a seamless ZF eight-speed auto transmission. Power down the accelerator in Dynamic mode and the Stelvio instantly comes alive with a throttly sound and a fun-to-drive spirit that's able to hit a top speed of 232 km/h and achieve a 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds. It dazzles with plenty of pep, especially in city traffic where it shows off its agility, balance and precise steering. Depending on what mood you're in, the Stelvio can also be driven in two other truly distinct modes: Natural and Advanced Efficiency. Just beware that braking is less tight and instant the greener the drive mode you go.

Technology

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The Ti trim ups the ante on technology with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to go with its standard seven-inch instrument cluster. Standard front-heated seats and heated steering wheel are a bonus adding much-needed comfort. In order to receive additional safety technology, consumers will have to opt for two packages: Driver Assistance Static ($1,000) and Driver Assistance Dynamic Plus ($1,500) for auto-dimming exterior mirrors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection in the former, while lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam headlamp control, forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control come in the latter.

In addition, it would be nice to see a dual-pane sunroof as standard equipment, but in the case of the Stelvio, it's an additional $1,595.

Cargo

The Stelvio’s cargo space is average at best.

As great as the Stelvio looks and drives, it doesn't hit the mark on cargo space. With 524 litres of space behind the second row, and a total 1,600 litres with rear seats folded, the Stelvio is average at best, but still suited for a small family that this compact crossover is geared for.

Verdict

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio provides consumers with a break from tradition. Its best attributes reside in its unique and attractive styling, along with its exceptional steering and performance. That Italian charm should be able to lure luxury buyers that are looking for something different and aren't concerned about cargo space.

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2018 Jaguar F-Pace 25t R-Sport

The Jaguar F-Pace is clean and polished with a sporty side.

Tech Specs

  • Price, as tested: $74,220
  • Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder
  • Transmission/Drive: Eight-speed auto/all-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.7 city, 8.8 highway

Looks

Much like the Stelvio, the F-Pace is Jaguar's first kick at the SUV can. However, there's a long and storied SUV history at Jaguar Land Rover, and it shows in this beautifully crafted specimen that receives additional cosmetic touches as part of the R-Sport package.

The F-Pace sets an edgy tone with its mesh grille and sleek LED lighting that resemble the styling of its XE and XF sedans. From the side and back, it's hard to tell the difference between the Stelvio and F-Pace, as the Jag also sports a curvaceous hatchback rump, horizontally stretched taillights and dual exhausts. It manages, however, to separate itself through an overall classic look that's more traditional for this segment. The best way to describe the F-Pace is clean and polished, while not forgetting its sporty side.

Interior

The F-Pace sets an edgy tone with its mesh grille and sleek LED lighting

Take a seat inside the F-Pace and occupants are treated to an open, lounge-type atmosphere that's comfortable, relaxing and definitely Jaguar. Its sophistication is a tad dull for my taste, but its simplicity grows after a short period and a bonus is found in its standard sunroof. If ride height equates to improved comfort, the F-Pace will hands-down be the preference, and

vice-versa

for the

Stelvio

, for those looking for a crossover, yet still wanting to retain that lower-to-the-ground hatchback stance. The back row continues that relaxing environment with ample headroom and legroom, even for six-foot passengers.

Performance

Powering my F-Pace was the base 247-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 269 lb-ft of torque. The spec numbers may seem low when compared to the rest of its segment, but there's adequate power to be found along with standard all-wheel-drive capabilities. For an additional $2,500, it may be worth splurging for the 30t (296 hp), but there's no need to jump for the V-6 (380 hp) for $18,250 more.

The F-Pace shows off a quiet nature that we don't expect with the sporty brand thanks to its seamless ZF eight-speed transmission. The 2.0-litre F-Pace doesn't hold up to the more frisky Stelvio, but it manages to stay balanced and composed with precise steering accuracy, minimal body roll, and the ability to go off-road. There are plenty of drive modes to choose from including Snow, which helped mightily during a few snowstorms. Fuel economy can still be troublesome in the city where I managed a substandard 12.6 litres/100 km.

Technology

The heated steering wheel is a godsend on cold days.

Jaguar Land Rover has come out with a new advanced infotainment system, but the F-Pace still receives the slightly outdated

InControl

Touch eight-inch system with available navigation. The whole setup looks the part, but fails in potentially distracting the driver due to its small scrolling touch buttons, redundant heated-seat buttons that take a two-step process and drive-mode adjustments found behind the gearshift.

Frustrations aside, standard heated-front seats and a heated steering wheel were a godsend during those chilly days. The F-Pace does include a few standard safety technologies: Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor, and Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection, but many more can be added in the Driver Assistance package for an additional $3,320.

Cargo

The F-Pace shows off more of its SUV side with 949 litres of cargo space with all seats up; when the second row is folded flat, that expands to 1,739 litres. There's no doubt, the F-Pace shines in size when compared to the Stelvio, and if you couple that with more back-row comfort, that could truly be the deciding factor.

Verdict

The 2018 Jaguar F-Pace is a welcome addition to the luxury crossover segment. Not only does it bring a refined style and sophistication, it adds that sporty touch without sacrificing interior and cargo space. It does have some technological quirks and fuel economy can be improved, but that's something that can be worked out in its next model year. For the most part, the British brand has put together a front-runner that can take on the Germans.


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