Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadri­foglio

With some im­pres­sive stats, in­clud­ing a ‘Ring lap record on its CV, the al­pha Stelvio has a lot to live up to

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

DUBAI is not ex­actly a place you’d ex­pect to host the launch for a ve­hi­cle called the Stelvio Quadri­foglio. The Mid­dle East­ern na­tion is typ­i­cally flat and sandy, while the Stelvio in the Ital­ian Alps is one of the most cel­e­brated moun­tain passes in the world.

Turns out there is a Mid­dle East­ern equiv­a­lent. An hour north of Dubai is Jebel Jais; at 1 934 me­tres, the high­est peak in the Emi­rates, and snaking up its flanks is 20 km of the finest as­phalt you’ve ever seen. Bil­liardtable smooth, wide, traf­fic-free and a chal­leng­ing com­bi­na­tion of fast, sweep­ing cor­ners and tight hair­pins, Jebel Jais is the per­fect lo­ca­tion for what Alfa Romeo is tout­ing as the bench­mark for per­for­mance SUVS. The Stelvio QV ap­pears to have the cre­den­tials to back that up, too, with a 07:51,70 Nür­bur­gring SUV lap record and a best-in-class power-to-mass ra­tio.

Read our road test on page 74 and you’ll know how much we like the cook­ing Stelvio that, like the Gi­u­lia sedan with which it shares a plat­form, has a won­der­fully sup­ple ride qual­ity, pre­cise, sharp steer­ing and suit­ably en­thu­si­as­tic en­gine. What else, then, does this halo model bring to the party?

Like the Gi­u­lia QV, the Stelvio QV also boasts that jewel of a 2,9-litre, V6, twin­turbo-petrol en­gine. It re­tains the Gi­u­lia QV’S peak out­puts of 375 kw and 600 N.m of torque, and sends that to all four wheels via a re­vised ver­sion of the eight-speed ZF au­to­matic gear­box ac­ces­sorised by size­able al­loy pad­dles that, in typ­i­cal Ital­ian style, are af­fixed to the steer­ing col­umn and not the wheel.

The Q4 torque-vec­tor­ing sys­tem – a part-time AWD setup – em­ploys all-wheel drive only when the Pirelli P Zeros up­front start to re­quest as­sis­tance. The rest of the time, 100% of the power is fed to the rear axle, al­low­ing a de­gree of joie de vivre purism (es­pe­cially in race mode) that we’re not ac­cus­tomed to in

an SUV. Ap­proach the limit in any other of Alfa’s trade­mark DNA driver-as­sis­tance set­tings and up to 50% of the cav­alry hot­foots it to the front wheels.

And that limit is ap­proached rather rapidly. It’s a 10th quicker than the Gi­u­lia QV to 100 km/h, says Alfa (3,8 sec­onds), and has a top speed just north of 280 km/h. That Nür­bur­gring lap record, how­ever, points to abil­i­ties be­yond straight-line ac­cel­er­a­tion and there are a cou­ple of con­tribut­ing fac­tors.

Mass is a big one. At 1 830 kg, the Stelvio QV is still a heavy ve­hi­cle but, thanks to some mass-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy and ex­cel­lent weight dis­tri­bu­tion, it feels a lot more nim­ble than it ought to. Ex­ten­sive use of alu­minium in the chas­sis sub-frames and a car­bon-fi­bre prop­shaft mean the Ital­ian is still 80-100 kg lighter than the Porsche Ma­can Turbo and up­com­ing Mercedes-amg GLC63.

Like the Gi­u­lia, the Stelvio’s su­perb sus­pen­sion setup is the other. Manag­ing the front wheels is a dou­ble-wish­bone sys­tem that works su­perbly well with the steer­ing rack (at 12.1:1, the most direct ra­tio in the SUV mar­ket) to both smooth out bumps and de­liver quick, pre­cise re­sponses to steer­ing in­puts. The rear wheels get Alfa’s patented fourand-a-half-link lay­out, with both front and rear sec­tions con­trolled by the Alfa Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion sys­tem.

De­spite this au­to­mo­tive sor­cery con­jured by Alfa’s Fer­rari-trained en­gi­neers, in per­for­mance car terms the Stelvio QV re­mains a rel­a­tively tall and heavy ve­hi­cle. That means it tends to­wards un­der­steer when loaded up through tighter cor­ners. Per­haps, though, that says more about the driver over­cook­ing things than the Stelvio’s abil­i­ties. De­lay your

clock­wise from top Qv-spe­cific black-leather-and-al­can­tara seats of­fer good sup­port when cor­ner­ing; side view shows the fa­mous Quadri­foglio four-leaf clover on the whee­larch; in nor­mal con­di­tions, the Q4 sys­tem trans­fers 100% of the torque to the rear axle; in­te­rior fin­ish the Stelvio’s only real prob­lem.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.