We’ve already raved about the Stelvio, Alfa Romeo’s first SUV. Now it’s time to road test the performance flagship of the range – the potent Quadrifoglio…
The Quadrifoglio (Italian for four-leaf clover) has already made it into the record books by smashing the Nurburgring lap record for an SUV in September 2017.
Driver Fabio Francia (who in 2016 also set the ‘Ring record for a saloon with the Giulia Quadrifoglio in 7 minutes, 32 seconds) hustled the Stelvio QF around the Green Hell in 7 minutes, 51.7 seconds – beating the previous record by 8 seconds, set by a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.
From the outside, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio (QF for short) has a more muscular look, At the rear there’s a restyled rear diffuser with quad exhaust pipes. The side profile is enhanced by flared wheel arches, massive 20-inch alloys and ‘cloverleaf’ badges on both front flanks, while the bonnet boasts two sets of air vents.
Priced from £69,500 and powered by a mighty 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo Ferrari-derived petrol engine, the Stelvio QF also sports a swift-changing 8-speed ZF auto gearbox.
Developing 503bhp and 600Nm torque, it’s blisteringly fast, managing 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 176mph.
Combining 50:50 weight distribution with all-wheel drive, it’s packed with clever technology including Alfa’s Chassis Domain Control (CDC) unit, with differential Active Torque Vectoring as standard and an Active Suspension system.
All that adds up to a 4×4 with supercar performance that handles like a sports saloon. An SUV that seems to defy physics with agility and minimal body roll.
There’s bags of torque, and thanks to its all-wheel drive system and all that tech, there’s no shortage of grip and traction out of high-speed corners is nothing short of remarkable, while the steering is sharp and precise.
Yes, here’s a car that will happily cruise motorways, creep along in traffic or snarl and aggressively lap up the miles when then roads get more challenging.
The Stelvio QF’s DNA Pro selector, down in the centre console, allows you to instantaneously switch the car’s character. There are four modes – A for Advanced Efficiency (economy), N for Natural (comfort), D for Dynamic (fun) and R for Race (hardcore).
The first two settings are more comfortable and best for long journeys, city driving and cruising along, but choose Dynamic and manually change gear using the epic steering wheels paddles if you’re looking for thrills. The suspension is firmed up, while throttle and gear response is sharper – and you can really appreciate the pops and crackles from those four exhaust pipes.
Elsewhere, the Stelvio QF is much the same as the standard car, which is no bad thing. Like the Guilia saloon before it, Alfa Romeo is hard on the heels of the Germans when it comes to premium feel and build quality.
Inside, there’s more leather and carbon-fibre, plus another quadrifoglio emblem in the 7.0-inch TFT instrument panel. Our test car was also fitted with Sparco carbon-shell sports seats (£3,250), which don’t just look cool, but are incredibly supportive.
Standard equipment includes an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-ready 8.8-inch infotainment system, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, keyless entry, blind spot detection, ambient lighting and a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.
However, the infotainment screen is a bit disappointing because it’s not touch sensitive and the graphics are pretty basic.
The Stelvio QF makes up for that when it comes to space and overall design, making it a practical daily driver.
There’s a commanding driving position, plenty of room for three adult-sized passengers in the rear, while luggage capacity is an impressive 525 litres, or 1,600 litres with the rear seats down.
It’s safe too, earning a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Standard safety systems include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Alfa’s Integrated Braking System, which significantly reduces braking distance on any road surface,
Verdict: The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a rare thing – an exhilarating SUV. Good looking, spacious, safe, practical and well-built, it’s a genuine driver’s car.