Typically, when one is anticipating getting their hands on a vehicle badged with a hot performance nameplate, they imagine themselves blasting down the straightway of some racetrack or cornering the car on some breathtaking canyon road in Sothern California.

It’s no secret that some of those So Cal roads have become some of our favorite test grounds for new vehicles here at Made Man.

Our recent drive with the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio in Nashville was quite the opposite, but still quite revealing. Why? Well, primarily because it gave us a better appreciation for the authentic beauty of the new Stelvio, far away from the glitzy lights of the Los Angeles Auto Show where we first got an up-close and personal look at the SUV.

2 Alfa Romeo Stelvio (secondary photo)

Coming on the heels of the much buzzed about Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan, the Stelvio very well might be the hottest take on the Italian brand to date.

Then again, the look of the SUV pretty much conveys that idea, right? Even under gloomy skies, it’s tough to deny the design appeal of the Stelvio—especially when fitted with those 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Price? Right under $42,000 for the base model of the two variants (Stelvio, Stelvio Ti) available stateside—a lot more affordable than we expected.

3 Alfa Romeo Stelvio (detail collage)

The trouble is, most of our time behind wheel of the 285-horsepower vehicle was plundered by a heavy rainstorm, which prevented us from experiencing some of the thrilling performance features of the rear-wheel-drive SUV.

But all the great roads mapped out for our drive didn’t go to total waste, thanks to one of the Stelvio’s coolest features, the Active Transfer Case, which shifts 60 percent of the power to the front wheels when road conditions are less than optimal.

That said, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is one ride we’ll be vying for a second go at, though preferably in the higher-performance Quadrifoglio model that packs 505-horsepower, on sale in 2018. And we’d be more than happy to try Nashville again. So much is going on there, blending some of the old with the new, that there’s a lot more to explore.

4 Alfa Romeo Stelvio (rear)