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