Based on our current Sports Car of The Year, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio promises to be a true driver’s SUV. We head to Scotland to find out if it can deliver…
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Can a performance SUV ever be considered a true driver’s car? You know, one of those machines that has the magic ability to lure you out of bed on Sunday morning. A car you don’t simply use to get from A to B.
Judging by the public’s insatiable appetite for high-riding performance machines, you might be tempted to answer in the affirmative. But we’re not so sure. You see, despite SUVs such as the Porsche Macan Turbo, Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and Audi SQ5 often being described as ‘rapid’ or ‘sporty’, in reality, they don’t come close to delivering the same level of driving thrills as a well-sorted sports car – they’re simply too heavy, too tall and too blunt.
But what if you were to base your sports SUV on a well-sorted sports car? Well, that’s the route engineers took when developing the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. And the results look rather mouth-watering.
Based on our current Sports Car of The Year, the Giulia Quadrifoglio, Alfa’s hot SUV benefits from the same chassis, the same fire breathing 503bhp 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 and a four-wheel drive system borrowed from sister company Maserati. Oh, and did we mention that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio was tuned by none other than Roberto Fedeli, whose CV includes Ferrari’s 599, F12 and 458 Speciale. If that doesn’t give you confidence, nothing will.
In raw pace alone, the results speak for themselves, with Alfa claiming a 0-62mph time of just 3.8sec, an eye-watering top speed of 176mph and a record-setting Nürburgring lap time of 7min 51sec.
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio on the road
Of course, while numbers like those listed above make for a good headline, they don’t tell you how a car performs in the real world. And in this case, what we really want to know is is whether the Stelvio Quadrifoglio delivers the same precise, fluent handling as the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to find out. On the fast and flowing roads of West Scotland, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio feels light and responsive on its feet, benefiting from quick steering that manages to feel sharp and precise without being overly nervous. It’s a clever trick – one Fedeli has clearly borrowed from Ferrari – that immediately makes you feel like you’re driving a something far closer to a hot hatch than a near-two tonne SUV.
While the Stelvio Quadrifoglio has four-wheel drive, we’re pleased to report that Alfa has managed to retain some of the rear-wheel-drive Giulia Quadrifoglio’s delightful mid-corner adjustability. If you give the Stelvio a big boot of power out of tight corners, you’ll find its rear end steps out of line nice and predictably, and then, once the four-wheel drive system decides to shuffle power to the front wheels, you get dragged out of the corner at a fair old lick. It’s addictive, good old-fashioned fun.
Less fun, however, is having to keep your eyes on the speedometer – an essential task if you value your licence, such is the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s penchant for building speed. With impressive body control and four-wheel drive traction, it can be all too easy to get lured into deploying all 503 horses, even in wet and slippery conditions. Plus, the fact that every upshift of the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox elicits a delicious crack from the quad exhaust pipes just makes you want to push on more.
Of course, the downside to all this performance is that the Stelvio isn’t all that economical. We found the mpg figure hovering around the low 20s, which isn’t terrible, but it’s not all that impressive either. And despite the Stelvio exhibiting impressive body control out in the country, around town you can feel that Alfa has had to firm up the suspension to keep that extra mass in check, with small abrasions sending the odd vibration through the interior. So, if you want to use your Stelvio Quadrifoglio as a city car, we’d advise you think twice.
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio interior
Let’s start with what’s good, shall we? Compared to a regular Stelvio, the Quadrifoglio truly feels like a step above. You get a leather-wrapped dashboard, glossy carbonfibre trim splashed throughout the interior, beautifully crafted aluminium shift paddles and a steering wheel laced with Alcantara and carbonfibre.
But still, if you compare the Stelvio Quadrifoglio not to cheaper versions of itself, but to other £70,000 performance SUVs, it falls down somewhat. Put simply, the plastics used inside wouldn’t look out of place in an entry-level family hatchback, while none of the switches operate with the pleasing precision of those found in the Macan or SQ5. And despite coming with an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-ready 8.8in infotainment system, poor graphics and slow response times mean functionality is limited.
That said, equipment is generous, with front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, keyless entry, blindspot monitoring and ambient lighting coming as standard.
In terms of practicality, the Quadrifoglio is virtually identical to the standard Stelvio. That’s to say it’s spacious in both the front and the rear, while the boot is larger than the Macan’s but smaller than the GLC 63’s. You can read more about outright practicality in the space and practicality section of our full Alfa Romeo Stelvio review here.