:8 Chris Wal­ton: Road Test Edi­tor This is truly the Ital­ian Army knife of BDC.Ó

Motor Trend (USA) - - 2018 Best Driver’s Car - Words Frank Markus

“The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadri­foglio comes from a dif­fer­ent place, a new place, a higher place. I’ve never done a hot lap so far off the ground. I liked it!” Those were Randy Pobst’s first words af­ter dis­mount­ing the Stelvio. Oth­ers joined the fun, fin­ish­ing this sen­tence: It’s not an SUV, it’s … “a two-story su­per­car,” “a Gi­u­lia hatch with a lift,” “a sport wagon in need of an Epipen.”

Alfa Romeo’s high-rise hot rod earned its in­vite by win­ning last month’s com­par­i­son test of sim­i­larly manic mus­cle utes. And like the Kia Stinger, this 4,282-pound bruiser de­fied sev­eral pre­dic­tions of a dis­tant fin­ish largely on the strength of its Fer­rarid­erived twin-turbo V-6, smart shift cal­i­bra­tion, in­de­fati­ga­ble brakes, and dy­namic-han­dling-bi­ased all-wheeldrive pro­gram­ming that min­i­mized un­der­steer. Our first-ever BDC ute ranks 83rd among our 119 BDC lap times, 0.01 sec­ond be­hind a 2014 C63 AMG and 0.01 sec­ond ahead of a Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT3-R.

The Stelvio raised ev­ery­body’s eye­brows on Route 198, as well, demon­strat­ing greater com­po­sure than the Audi TT RS over the lump­i­est stretches—es­pe­cially with the shocks set to Soft mode. Its con­sis­tently firm brake pedal and lin­ear re­sponse in­spired great con­fi­dence, earn­ing ku­dos for the pro­gram­mers of this by-wire ar­ti­fi­cial feed­back sys­tem. “Stag­ger­ing brak­ing power,” Scott Evans said. “I can­not be­lieve how hard this thing stops.” Chris Wal­ton con­curred: “Sure-footed, ex­cel­lent body con­trol, crys­tal-clear steer­ing, sneaky power, and more ef­fec­tive (though numb) brakes than three-quar­ters of this field—in­spires con­fi­dence.” Mark Rechtin wished for “a Stelvio race se­ries so peo­ple would watch and say, ‘An SUV can do that?!?’”

Although there was uni­ver­sal agree­ment that the Stelvio is the Best Driver’s SUV and a true credit to its species, its av­oir­du­pois, high cen­ter of grav­ity, co­pi­ous cor­ner-en­try un­der­steer, and body roll al­lowed the proper sports cars to outscore it. We’re ea­ger to pit the scrappy Stelvio against the almighty Lam­borgh­ini Urus be­fore next year to see if that new­comer might have what it takes to rank higher on this list.

UP­SCALE Most com­men­tary about the Stelvio’s cock­pit re­volved around how much higher off the ground it is, but it hews to the sports car ideal, pro­vid­ing great lat­eral sup­port, clear gauges, and ideal pedal place­ment.

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