Alfa Romeo had the audacity to drop a Ferrari V6 bi-turbo engine into the latest version of their Stelvio SUV. It’s a gamble that has paid off. Beautifull­y.


Most of the iconic German carmakers have a sparse moniker for their performanc­e models: Porsche and Audi use “RS”, Mercedes-Benz uses “AMG”, BMW uses “M” and Volkswagen uses “R”. But the Italians, of course, march to a different – far more romantic – drum. Emblazoned on Alfa Romeo’s fastest cars, you’ll find the quadrifogl­io – a four-leaf clover against a white triangle.

And as is the case with many things Italian, this story involves equal measures of love, faith, hope, and especially luck. It starts almost a hundred years ago, in 1923, with the Italian racing driver Ugo Sivocci. The man had all the talent in the world, but he just could not cross the finishing line first. So, when he entered the Targa Florio, an endurance race in the mountains of Sicily, his teammates at Alfa Romeo painted a four-leaf clover (on a white square) on his car to bring him good luck. It worked. He won the race! Since then, all of Alfa’s highperfor­mance cars have carried the quadrifogl­io logo. Sadly, Sivocci was killed while testing a new racing car a few months after his first victory. The test car did not have the fourleaf clover. To honour Sivocci, the white square had a side removed and it became a white triangle.

It’s stories like this that make Alfa Romeo owners some of the most dedicated car enthusiast­s in the world. Even though it might be imperfect, and it often breaks your heart, you love an Alfa because it’s beautiful and it brings a flush to your face.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifogl­io certainly gets your heart thumping. It’s already a goodlookin­g SUV, but the addition of the same V6 bi-turbo engine that you’ll find in a Ferrari California transforms it into a mind-bending beast. At one stage it was the fastest production SUV in the world, completing a lap of the notorious Nürburgrin­g Nordschlei­fe in 7 minutes 51,7 seconds. The Nordschlei­fe (North Loop) is an incredibly challengin­g extension of the famous Grand Prix racetrack in Germany – it’s 20,6 km long and has 170 corners!

One could get mired down in the statistics and the performanc­e






Top speed

Fuel consumptio­n (claimed)



Service plan

Service intervals

Price specs: 0 to 100 km/h in 3,8 seconds; 375 kW of power; 600 Nm of torque; eight-speed automatic transmissi­on that shifts gears in 150 millisecon­ds; all-wheel-drive with adaptive suspension… But the Stelvio QV isn’t only about performanc­e.

The topic of a big, expensive

SUV that can’t be driven off-road is a divisive one, like whether pineapple should be allowed on pizza. Personally, I don’t get the point of a performanc­e SUV that can’t leave the tar, but like a good Hawaiian pizza, the Stelvio QV unexpected­ly sparks joy.

The exuberant exterior – graceful curves combined with muscular lines – stands out in a sea of crisp, clinical SUVs. There’s nothing ordinary about the interior either. Racing seats, Alcantara upholstery, carbon fibre inserts, a big red “Start” button and aluminium paddle shifters on the steering wheel remind you that you’re not sitting in mom’s taxi.

It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face after you’ve pressed that red button. The beautiful engine has a low, menacing rumble no matter how sedately you try to drive the Stelvio QV. To unleash its full potential, change to “Dynamic” on the driving mode selector and choose “Race Mode”, which will launch the car at the horizon.

Once your heartbeat returns to normal, you might want to reflect on whether an illogical, hot-blooded machine like this still has a place in our sanitised world. Or maybe you should just consider yourself lucky that there are still four-leaf clovers to be found…

ALFA ROMEO STELVIO QV 2891 cc V6 bi-turbo petrol 375 kW @ 6 500 rpm 600 Nm @ 2 000 rpm – 5 000 rpm 8-speed automatic 283 km/h 9 ℓ/100 km 64 litres 3 years/100 000 km 6 years/100 000 km 15 000 km

R1 680 000

I read your previous feature that compared the recharge performanc­e of an intelligen­t solenoid system with your own 25A DC-DC charger. In the same advertoria­l, you mentioned that the results would differ if a 40A charger were used. Well, I’ve got my heart set on a DC-DC setup, purely because I like the ease with which solar power can be added to the system. Should I be considerin­g the NLDC-40 instead of the NLDC-25? I know there’s a price difference, but is bigger better in this regard?

The limitation of any 20A or 25A DC-DC system is the fact that the battery’s recharge rate is restricted to just 25 amps or less. This is particular­ly important during the “bulk stage” of the recharge process.

On that note, the following graph depicts the recharge curves of a 25A versus a 40A DC-DC charger.

This test was conducted using a 140Ah AGM battery that was discharged by 110Ah (78%).

In this particular test, you’ll see from the graph above that the NLDC-40 restores up to 30Ah more than the NLDC-25 after just two hours of driving.

auxiliary-battery power, the benefit of using a 40A charger is only noticeable during the “bulk” stage of recharging. Once you include the “absorption” stage in the overall process, the total recharge time is similar for both products. This is because the total charge time is determined by the battery’s technology, and not the charger itself. Simply put:

The battery is the limiting factor.

Unfortunat­ely, there’s no way around this, as most lead-acid batteries require considerab­le time to reach full charge. In contrast, a lithium battery will accept far more energy during its “bulk charge stage” than a lead-acid battery, and ultimately, reach full charge quicker. However, the economics of using a lithium battery (within a vehicle-based applicatio­n) should be strongly considered. Thankfully, the NLDC-40 and NLDC-25 both support Lithium-ion and LiFeP04 batteries, as well as regular flooded, gel, AGM and calcium batteries.

So, from that perspectiv­e, using a 40A charger is noticeably beneficial if your driving habits are typically around the three-hour mark or less. Beyond that, the two products start to offer similar results. However, there are other considerat­ions, too…

As you’ve mentioned, solar power plays a big role in the decision to install a DC-DC system, where most top-tier products include a built-in MPPT solar regulator.

Having a solar panel connected to your auxiliary battery negates the need to drive your vehicle on a daily basis. In many cases, solar power will be responsibl­e for keeping the battery full, and may even be enough to supply your total power needs.

can have your vehicle’s alternator, solar panels, wind generator, and/or auxiliary DC input all connected at the same time, and the NLDC-40 will switch between the energy sources automatica­lly.

Both the NLDC-25 and the NLDC-40 come with the option of a Remote Monitor. Aside from displaying the battery’s state of charge, the Remote Monitor also shows DC input voltage, solar input voltage, alternator input voltage (whichever is active at the time), auxiliary battery voltage, charge current, temperatur­e, battery type, and a host of error warnings in case something goes wrong.

To summarise, although a 40A DC-DC charger will reduce the bulk-charging time, the real benefits are realised in applicatio­ns with larger battery banks or installati­ons with large solar arrays. On that note, here’s a short list of when a 40A DC-DC system should be the preferred choice (and when it shouldn’t)…

You need the extra charge quickly during the “bulk stage” of the charge, despite the battery not reaching full capacity.

You have a large battery bank where the “absorption stage” is comparativ­ely short to the “bulk stage” of the recharge process.

You are powering a load (a fridge or another appliance) at the same time as charging the battery.

You want the extra solar capabiliti­es.

The battery is not capable of receiving high currents, which is often the case with smaller gel and lithium batteries.

Your applicatio­n is mostly stationery, where you rely predominan­tly on AC power.

Your solar array is relatively small

(150W to 350W).

True 40A output current

Five-stage intelligen­t charge algorithm AGM, gel, wet, calcium, lithium-Ion batteries supported

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 ??  ?? Because lead-acid batteries require time to recharge, no matter what dual-battery system you install, it’s advisable that an Intelligen­t Maintenanc­e Charger be used to service the auxiliary battery and restore it to full capacity after each trip.
Because lead-acid batteries require time to recharge, no matter what dual-battery system you install, it’s advisable that an Intelligen­t Maintenanc­e Charger be used to service the auxiliary battery and restore it to full capacity after each trip.
 ??  ?? The NLDC-25 is also available as a portable power pack, where the DC-DC charger is built into the box, and offers a quick plug-and-play feature that includes a dedicated solar-panel port.
The NLDC-25 is also available as a portable power pack, where the DC-DC charger is built into the box, and offers a quick plug-and-play feature that includes a dedicated solar-panel port.
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