Launched last year as a 2018 model, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio may be a somewhat latecomer to the SUV and crossover segment, but has however proved well worth the wait, and especially so in top dog Quadrifoglio guise. Alfa Romeo’s gambit into the high performance or ‘super’ end of the SUV segment, the Quadrifoglio is an object lesson in how a high riding four-wheel-drive vehicle can be made a ‘sports’ vehicle. Not just a devastatingly swift straight line performer, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s agile and committed handling allows it to more effectively deploy its power on track and through winding roads.
Reinterpreting the iconic 108-year old Italian auto maker’s motorsport heritage for a modern super SUV, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio bears both the name of the swerving Stelvio Pass mountain stage of the historic Mille Miglia race, and the brand’s traditional four leaf clover racing good luck charm as an emblem. Lighter and with better specific power and power-to-weight than chief competitors like the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 and Porsche Macan Turbo, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio also posted the world’s fastest 7-minute, 51.7-second SUV lap time at the benchmark Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, last September, and one year after its Giulia Quadrifoglio super saloon sister.
A stylish, practical and fast super SUV combining sheer power and handling ability to devastating effect, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s design is meanwhile elegantly curvy and urgently sporty without being overtly brutal or aggressive. Taut, jutting and eager with fine curvatures, sharp lines, sporty details and a flowing roofline, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio sits with an athletic momentum and features rearwards cabin and rakish tailgate with prominent rear spoiler. Front views are dominated by its shield-like honeycomb grille, slim LED-browed headlights and hungry main and gill-like side intakes. Other details hinting at its staggering performance include big bore quad tailpipes and large staggered alloys.
Under its long bonnet and extraction vents, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by Alfa Romeo’s Ferrari-developed twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 engine. Producing 503BHP at 6,500rpm and 443lb/ft torque throughout a broad and accessible 2,500-5,000rpm band, the Stelvio Qudrifoglio is willing from low-end, versatile in mid-range, and viciously eager towards its 7400rpm limit. Broad, versatile and charismatic the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is, unlike many turbo engines, both urgently high-revving yet responsively quick spooling from idling engine speed. With twin IHI single-scroll turbos positioned between cylinder banks for short gasflow paths and eager response from standstill, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s mid-range is meanwhile unrelentingly abundant.
With four-wheel-drive traction, wide 255/45R20 front and rear 285/40R20 tyres, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio pounces, supercar-like, from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.8-seconds, and is capable of a 283km/h maximum. Growling and snarling, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is viscerally quick on-the-move, with a broad and muscular mid-range torque band underwriting an urgently progressive power build up. Driving through a slick, swift and smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox, the Quadrifoglio’s cog changes however become snappier, quicker and more succinct when in Dynamic or Race driving mode, during which throttle response, damper firmness, and exhaust note also adopt a sportier and more focused profile.
Driving rear wheels by default for efficiency, balanced handling and agility, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s Q4 four-wheel-drive system however variably re-apportions up to 50% power to the front wheels when addition traction and grip are needed. Meanwhile, an electronic limited-slip differential distributes power side-to-side along the rear axle for agility and yet more traction. The result is a car that tucks crisply into corners, is balanced and committed throughout and exits with claw-like road-holding as it puts power down to tarmac with maximum effect. Meanwhile, large 350mm disc 6-piston caliper front and 350mm, 4-piston rear brakes proved tyrelessly and effectively capable.
Driven at Alfa Romeo’s sprawling historing Balocco proving grounds, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio was particularly adept on the demandingly narrow, winding and fast Langhe circuit. Precise and eager turning into corners, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s agility is aided by selective brake-based torque vectoring. Steering is meanwhile precise, quick, well-weighted and communicative for an SUV, if not as nuanced feeling as the lighter, rear-driven Giulia Qudrifoglio saloon. Agile, tidy and buttoned down through Langhe, the Quadrifoglio could be induced to kick its tail wide in Race mode. But to avoid understeer, tighter, flatter corners are best taken by pivoting weight to the rear and outside.
Settled and confident through Langhe’s demanding elevations, fast straights and switchbacks including steeply dipping corners immediately followed by sharp inclines, the Quadrifoglio’s masterful suspension set-up and adaptive dampers makes it feel like a smaller, lower and leaner car. Superbly flat through corners despite its ride height and 1,830kg weight the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s lateral control is taut, while vertical control remained settled and buttoned down on sharp dips, crests and on rebound. Stable and refined at speed both through winding routes and on high speed straights, the Stelvio’s sporting abilities simply belie its SUV designation and defy expectation.
Luxuriously sporty inside, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s leather and carbon-fibre swathed cabin features an alert, involving and versatile driving position with driver-focused instrumentation, logical layouts and well-adjustable steering wheel with column-mounted singe-piece aluminium gearbox paddle shifters. Seats are comfortable and supportive, while optional carbon-fibre spine sports seats are lighter and more provide more side support. A practical SUV in terms of maneuverability, boot space and convenience and safety systems, the Stelvio’s cabin proved well-packaged. Well-accommodating in general, the Stelvio’s front and rear headroom was unexpectedly good for taller drivers, given its rakish roofline. This was particularly so in non-sunroof specification.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
- Engine: 2.9-litre, twin-turbocharged, in-line V6-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 86.5 x 82mm
- Compression ratio: 9.31:1
- Valve-train: 24-valve, DOHC, direct injection
- Rev limit: 7400rpm
- Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive, electronic limited-slip rear differential
- Ratios: 1st 5.0; 2nd 3.2; 3rd 2.143; 4th 1.72; 5th 1.313; 6th 1.0; 7th 0.823; 8th 0.64
- Reverse / final drive: 3.456 / 3.7
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 503 (510)  @6,500rpm
- Specific power: 174BHP/litre
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 443 (600) @2,500-5,000rpm
- Specific torque: 207.5Nm/litre
- 0-100km/h: 3.8-seconds
- Top speed: 283km/h
- Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 11.7- / 7.5- / 9-litres/100km
- CO2 emissions, combined: 210g/km
- Fuel capacity: 64-litres
- Length: 4,702mm
- Width: 1,955mm
- Height: 1,681mm
- Wheelbase: 2,818mm
- Track, F/R: 1,622 / 1,675mm
- Overhangs, F/R: 866 / 1,018mm
- Ground clearance: 200mm (approximately)
- Wading depth: 480mm
- Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.34
- Headroom, F/R: 1020/987mm
- Legroom, F/R: 929/810mm
- Cargo volume, min/max: 499-/1,600-litres
- Weight: 1,830kg
- Weight distribution, F/R: 53.8/46.2%
- Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
- Steering ratio: 12:1
- Turning circle: 12.1-meters
- Suspension, F/R: Double wishbone / multi-link, active dampers
- Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 360 x 32mm / 350 x 28mm
- Brake calipers, F/R: 6- / 4-piston
- Tyres, F/R: 255/45R20 / 285/40R20