Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Alfa’s latest Quadrifoglio performance model meets the Autocar timing gear
MODEL TESTED QUADRIFOGLIO
Price £69,500 Power 503bhp Torque 443lb ft 0-60mph 4.0sec 30-70mph in fourth 4.5sec Fuel economy 22.0mpg CO2 emissions 227g/km 70-0mph 55.1m
Were you to speculate on the identity of this week’s road test subject from its specification sheet alone, your efforts would be at risk of going widely awry. Carbonfibre-shell seats and a claimed 3.8sec 0-62mph time? Must be some sort of supercar, a notion reinforced by carbon-ceramic brake discs and a Race driving mode.
Somehow, the truth is more extreme – and unpredictable – than that. When Alfa Romeo presented its very first sports utility vehicle back in 2016 at the Los Angeles motor show, it wanted to leave an indelible mark. While lesser petrol models and their diesel counterparts were due to follow, on the stand sat the Stelvio in range-topping 503bhp Quadrifoglio form. The flamboyant styling was recognisable from the Giulia. We also knew that the engine, the same characterful twin-turbo V6 designed by former Ferrari engineer Gianluca Pivetti, would ensure bite matched bark. And it was the fabulous Giulia that gave us hope. Alfa Romeo leaned heavily on Ferrari expertise – including the acquisition of Philippe Krief, the chassis engineer responsible for the 458 Speciale – to deliver the best-handling saloon in its century-long history. Now it was applying that experience to the on-trend world of raised ride heights. Porsche and BMW have ensured the Stelvio Quadrifoglio won’t be the first SUV with truly polished handling, but could this be the first SUV to get its owner out of bed on a Sunday morning?
Maybe. But it’s not that simple. As an SUV, this unprecedented Alfa must also be comfortable and safe on a rainy Tuesday night, and spacious enough to collect the children from school and do a weekly shop on the way home. In this class, extraordinary handling and a stonking powertrain will get you only so far, so just how far does the Stelvio Quadrifoglio really go?
DESIGN AND ENGINEERING
At 4.7m long, 1.68m tall and 1.95m wide, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio isn’t the largest performance SUV out there. Nevertheless, the firepower required to shift its claimed 1830kg mass at a rate that’s fast enough to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7min 51.8sec – a record that has now been broken by the Mercedes-amg GLC63 S – is still going to have to be considerable. As with the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon (with which the Stelvio Quadrifoglio shares its Giorgio architecture), that firepower is provided by an all-aluminium 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6. It’s a powerplant that can trace its lineage to Ferrari’s F154 family of modular V8s, engines that have been put to use in everything from the 488 Pista to the Maserati Quattroporte GTS. Liberated of two cylinders and reconfigured for use under the Stelvio’s island bonnet, it develops a heady 503bhp at 6500rpm, and its 443lb ft slug of torque is available at 2500rpm.
Under regular conditions, the sum total of this puissance is deployed to the Stelvio’s 285/40-section rear tyres, courtesy of an eight-speed ZF
‘Quadrifoglio Verde’ four-leaf clover motif sits above the front wheel arches. First appeared on Ugo Sivocci’s Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio, with which he won the race of the same name in 1923.
Three slits on each side of the island bonnet allow for heat to dissipate up out of the engine bay. You can see the heatwaves from behind the wheel when you come to a halt.
Once you notice it, your eyes will have a hard time not being drawn to the large sensor that’s integrated into the lower front grille in a particularly untidy fashion.
Chrome-finished quad exhausts are the real deal, not some phony trick designed to obscure a smaller tailpipe. The noise coming out of them is rather special, too, particularly in Race mode.
A side-on view highlights a few overly fussy styling details at the rear. The shutline that drops down from the tail-light looks particularly unnecessary, and a bit inelegant too.
Stelvio QF’S spindly standard 20in alloys fill their arches nicely and look the part but perhaps aren’t quite as timeless as the pepperpot wheels fitted to hot Alfas of yesteryear.
No Alfa would be complete without a prominent shield-shaped grille. As it does on the Giulia saloon, this dominates a large amount of front-end real estate.
This V6 engine might not be quite as pretty as Alfa’s old V6 units, but it’s undeniably a force to be reckoned with. And it sounds fantastic.
Giulia Quadrifoglio donates much of its kit