Right before the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, I already was in Switzerland, for a completely different reason, but as usual, related to cars! Me and a bunch of other car guys (SupercarsofLondon aka Paul, SeenThroughGlass aka Sam, Worldsupercars aka Thomas, TGE aka Tom, Marchettino aka Marco… and many others) were invited by Alfa Romeo to Saint-Moritz to test-drive the brand new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. I made the trip with my friend Laurent, who came to help me out with the filming and ideas.
My journey started in Paris, with a flight to Zürich. It was quite a bumpy flight. As soon as we landed, I noticed the lack of mountains all around and it bothered me more than it should have, which felt weird, considering I was hoping for a mountain scenery (but then again, I’d see plenty of mountains soon). We ended-up meeting all of the guys (Paul, Sam, Tom etc…) at the airport, and the guys from Alfa Romeo came to pick us up. We quickly divided in two vans, and off we went to the Egandines, on the road to Saint-Moritz !
Everything around was quickly being more and more beautiful. The hills became mountains, the mountains became snowy tops, and the scenery was simply amazing. I’m a sucker for the mountain, I guess. We eventually stopped at a gas station for a bathroom stop, which we soon found out was more of a « real stop »: indeed, the roads to Saint-Moritz were blocked due to the heavy snow. You’d think they knew how to handle snow in the swiss mountains, right? haha! After a little while, they eventually found a solution, and drove us to a train station, where another 2-hour train ride was waiting for us. Everyone was pretty tired, but there was no other way. Might as well see the silver lining: we were getting there soon!
Contrary to my friend Marco who had been there since the morning and took some time to enjoy the hotel and to simply rest, we arrived at the Kulm Hotel in Saint-Moritz around 8pm. Everyone was exhausted! It was a lovely swiss palace lodged in the mountains, with a bunch of wood, and a classic decoration. We didn’t get to enjoy the room and rest very long, considering we had to join the others for dinner in about 15/20 minutes! Everyone dressed-up nicely and went to the restaurant, which was on the other side of the road. I didn’t know that, and I think my poor mocassins remember walking in the snow-covered town. Night had already fallen for hours, and Alfa Romeo had made a pretty cool surprise in front of the hotel, with a brand new grey STELVIO illuminated as the main actor of a broadway musical. It felt almost magical with all that snow slowly and lightly falling around…
We then joined all the other influencers, who came both from the instagram world & car world. The whole Alfa Romeo team was there. So were two other Stelvio (a red one and a grey one), both magically put into scene! A few speeches and presentations later, a succulent dinner was served. It finally was the real moment of relaxation we were all craving for. It was a very friendly atmosphere, people laughed, cheered. No black ties and « fake personas », just people that loved cars and were enjoying dinner. But given we had spent such a tiring day, as soon as dinner was over, I went back in my room to get some rest for the next day. After all, we were only supposed to have the Stelvio for about FOUR hours, so we had to plan a little bit how we were going to do it. Charge all the batteries (my own life-battery included), external chargers, and OFF TO SLEEP. Believe it or not, I didn’t fall asleep until 2am, and woke-up at 5, and impossible to go back to sleep. I guess my internal clock fails me when I need it most, oh well.
Sunday, 6:30 AM. I get up, go for a quick and hot shower to start off the day. Eveyrone was expected at the restaurant. We leave our bags at the reception, the Alfa Romeo crew handled all the luggage. After a much-needed breakfast (I don’t usually have breakfast, but I kind of force myself to eat in these situations, because I know I’ll need the energy later on), everyone gathered for some sort of speech about the car / press conference (which we missed the night before, due to the closed roads, that made us arrive 2 hours later). And then it was time. Every driver had their Alfa Romeo Stelvio picked-up the day before, and we were each getting one. I was supposed to get a black one, but they ended-up giving me a white one, which was a better choice I think (even if the car is less visible in the snow environment).
As soon as we picked-up the car, my friend Laurent and I went a different way than everyone. We soon found a remote and quiet place to make a few static shots of the car, and begin filming. Our white Stelvio fitted so well in the snow, it almost looked like natural camouflage. The Stelvio is Alfa Romeo’s first modern SUV (indeed, the « Matta » is their actual first, but that was in the 50s). The Stelvio takes its name from the world-famous pass (which was sadly and ironically closed during that time of the year), needless to say it has a hell of a name to live up to! We started-out by checking the interior, seeing how things fitted and the coherence of things. The Stelvio is a spacious car and quite comfortable, no matter where you’re sitting. It has a bunch of USB connectors for your devices (I really need those), including two in the back for the passengers. The dashboard isn’t as sportsy as that of the Giulia or Giulietta, it’s more horizontal, therefore gives you a better view of the whole surrounding, aided by your driving position which is high, as in an SUV, yet still feels a bit low, more sports-related. The steering wheel itself is a reminder of sports cars with a non-circular shape, giving more leg room. Needless to say, the Stelvio is an interesting mix.
After we finished with a few pictures, I ended up taking the wheel. And there I went. As I had never driven in the snow before (let’s face it, Paris doesn’t know that kind of snow and I never had the opportunity), I was obviously extra-careful. Maybe too careful at first. I really wasn’t going fast, and followed to the letter the braking tips I had learned for snow driving. But eventually I got more comfortable, after only a few minutes: the car handled really well in the snow-covered town of Saint-Moritz. We eventually left the town for some better mountain roads: as soon as you leave, you find yourself in the midst of a valley, surrounded by mountains. It was magnificent: snow-covered pine trees and mountains, everything looked beautiful. It was a feast for the eyes and for all nature lovers out there! I highly reccomend driving there during winter time! The roads were quite snowy yet the Alfa Romeo Stelvio felt glued to the ground, not much seemed to disturb its trajectories. The grip was really good (and we weren’t even using snow tires, as far as I know).
We ended up going to the Jurgen pass (at least I think that was it). Up up up the mountain we went. And once we got to the top, we found ourselves in a land of dreams, cotton-like snow all around, not a single person in sight, almost no cars. We were almost on the top of the mountain, or at least it felt like it. Alone in the world with the Stelvio. We stopped to make a few dynamic shots and photos, and of course, as you might expect, every time we would do that, someone came along to ruin the shot haha. My luck. But I had never seen such a BEAUTIFUL place in my life. I think the guys from Alfa Romeo didn’t chose Saint-Moritz and its lovely environment by pure luck, it was a well-decided choice considering those were the perfect roads to enjoy the new Stelvio and see exactly how it handled. We weren’t complete knuckle-heads though, we stayed in Auto mode for the whole morning with all the electronic aids. We only tried the Dynamic mode once to try and get a little drift out of it, and we did, but it wasn’t easy: the grip was crazy (then again, we aren’t drifters lol)..
Our 280 bhp baby felt right at home, compared to some of the other cars we crossed path with. Though we weren’t exploiting the full potential of the engine, you could tell it would’ve been fine. But we behaved. You even wonder what exactly the Quadrifoglio version will bring (at least for mountain driving): what the hell are we going to do with double the power haha? A funny thing is we were getting looks and thumbs up from some of the people in other cars or in little villages we drove in. I believe this is actually a positive response considering these parts of Switzerland are mostly well-off and luxurious. Hence the typical clientele of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, which would be your 40-year-old upper middle-class man, seemed interested by the new SUV. Always a good sign when people give you thumbs up. Too bad it wasn’t my car, the joy would’ve been that much greater to receive them haha.
We completely separated from all the other guys that each went filming in different places, do something else. Eventually I reunited with Thomas (aka Worldsupercars) completely by chance. His dark blue Alfa Romeo Stelvio was pretty good-looking, too. But ours had the « round-shape » wheels, which are much closer to the alfa romeo DNA than his « pointy sports wheels ». I don’t know your take on this, but on Instagram, people seemed to favour my wheels. Tee-hee! We tried doing a few drone shots with the Alfa Romeo team, but it turned out a bit complicated, for two reasons. First of all, not a lot of time was left. Second of all, the guy operating the drone actually lost control and crashed into a house, breaking the drone, while filming our first scene. Talk about bad luck lol. I really felt bad for the guy considering he was filming something for us – however, it was his angle idea, and he was the one operating the drone, so I absolve myself of all guilt! After this turn of events, we kept driving a little bit, just chilling in the swiss countryside roads. Everything was still so beautiful.
We ended up meeting where we first started the day. This is where we had to gather, considering we had to leave soon so we wouldn’t miss our flights. After a quick (and delicious) meal, we all got back on the buses and off to Zurich we went. This time, no train, all-road. I even dozed off a bit because of the fatigue. But it was a lovely week-end and experience shared with friends and nice people that I’m not about to forget that easy. First time driving in the snow, in Saint-Moritz, behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. You don’t make this stuff up.
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