We were that impressed with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio last time, Andy Harris got his hands on one to see what all the fuss is about….
Alfa Romeo launched their Stelvio last year and it has some stiff competition. The German triumvirate of BMW X3, Porsche Macan and Audi Q5 are all strong contenders, whilst closer to home Jaguar Land Rover offer the F-PACE and Discovery Sport. Last but by no means least is the Volvo XC60.
Those who wish to combine SUV practicality with sports car performance are perhaps less well served. The Macan is probably the most overtly sporty and then there is Audi’s SQ5 which is fast but somewhat uninvolving. Perhaps sensing a gap in the market, or perhaps just because they could, Alfa Romeo has introduced the Quadrifoglio version of its pretty Stelvio, a performance special.
A quick look at Alfa’s performance figures makes for interesting reading:
- Maximum power 0f 510hp
- 600Nm of torque
- 0 to 62mph in 3.8 seconds
- Top speed 176mph
The 2.9-litre Bi-Turbo engine is mated to a specially calibrated eight-speed automatic gearbox, capable of shifting gears in just 150 milliseconds in Race mode. Bespoke one-piece aluminium shifters, integrated into the steering column allow ultimate control.
A Q4 all-wheel drive system is fitted. In normal conditions, 100% of the power is fed to the rear axle and as the limit approaches, the Q4 system is able to transfer up to 50% to the front axle.
Carbon ceramic brake discs come as standard along with Alfa’s active suspension system.
All this sounds exciting on paper, but having one at my disposal for a week was something I had looked forward to for months.
Snow blanketed the county in the week before the loan, not ideal. As if by magic, warmer temperatures greeted the arrival on the ‘Trofeo White’ test car and I was all set to have some fun.
The first day I did no more than potter about at locally, just enough to familiarise myself with the controls and get used to the figure-hugging Sparco Carbonshell sports seats (a £3,250 option). The low speed ride was overly firm, the turning circle poor and the brakes lack feel without any heat in the discs…
Day two saw the prospect of a 50-mile cross-country blast to a car launch which would take in some of my favourite driving roads. Would the Stelvio come alive? Would I discover what all the fuss was all about?
Bags packed, fuel tank brimmed and the weather set fair, I was off. Once free of urban confines, the Quadrifoglio immediately came alive. The heavy, high-geared steering now made sense, allowing the car to be placed on the road with millimetre precision.
The firm suspension now worked its magic, allowing the big SUV to corner at high speed with zero body roll.
What I was not prepared for was the kick in the back acceleration, especially with Sport mode engaged. Supercar quick in a straight line with little need to slow down for tight corners such was the superb body control.
Glancing down at the speedometer on the familiar roads was a constant (licence-losing) surprise and it was tough to rein the Stelvio in…
Barrel into a corner, a quick dab on the now warm brakes, head for the apex, apply full power and blast off down the next straight. And repeat…
Slower traffic was dispatched in an instant and using the paddles to hold on to each gear was an audible delight, with the sounds of the delightful V6 engine and race-tuned exhaust there to thrill.
The aforementioned racing seats, which I must confess had felt a little snug, held me firmly in place and proved to be supremely comfortable.
All too soon my journey was over and if time hadn’t been pressing I would have carried on to the North York Moors for some more excitement.
My enthusiastic driving had taken its toll on the car’s fuel economy and I had to look twice at the 16.5mpg readout! Alfa quotes 24mpg for the combined cycle, but I doubt many owners will better 20mpg unless they possess excellent self-control. I doubt they will care either – I certainly didn’t.
The next day was spent driving a new and distinctly worthy family SUV, but the thought of my return
journey occupied my thoughts.
Dark and wet at departure time, I was not convinced I would enjoy the drive but need not have worried.
The Q4 all-wheel drive system imperceptibly shifted the power to where it was most needed and this combined with powerful lighting meant the journey home was equally brisk and just as pleasurable.
For the rest of the week I was constantly looking for reasons to go out for a drive, usually via the petrol station. I always returned with a huge grin on my face…
So what else can I tell you about this dynamically engaging car?
Well there’s room to carry four or five people in comfort, the boot is large and the kit count high. Adding to the £69,500 asking price, the test car had a further £10,000 worth of desirable extras added. I would specify those racing seats, unless large of frame and the optional panoramic sunroof (£1,250) lightens up a rather sombre interior.
Looking back through my notes, I can tell you that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s performance figures are almost identical to that of the Ferrari 488 GTB I was lucky enough to test some 15 months ago.
However, in the real world the Stelvio would leave the Ferrari for dust, especially on the twisting rural roads that make up much of my everyday driving. The raised driving position affords a better view of the road and the all-wheel drive system allows all that immense power to be used whatever the weather.
Best of all, the Stelvio is anonymous enough not to attract unwanted attention from the boy racer brigade, but special enough to delight the automotive cognoscenti.
So there we have it, practical family car one minute, engaging sports car the next, ideal for a quick blast round the Nurburgring. Incidentally, and not unsurprisingly, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the fastest SUV to lap the iconic circuit (7 minutes, 51.7 seconds).
- Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
- Price £69,500 (£79,880 with options)
- 510hp 2.9-litre V6 Bi-Turbo engine
- Peak torque 600Nm at 2,500 rpm
- 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds
- Top speed 176mph
- Combined economy 24mpg
- Emissions 227g/km CO2
- BIK rate 37%