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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio review
That before, the notion of an Alfa Romeo SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE (SUV) touting more than 500bhp didn’t just seem to be less likely, it was an illusion of almost Wellsian ratios.
What few of all of us guess on was an insatiable global appetite for high-riding cars and Alfa’s recent – and so dearly welcome – revival, stimulation as a purveyor of proper drivers’ machines.
The madcap result is the Stelvio Quadrifoglio seen here, which faithfully reproduces the blueprint set down by the Giulia Quadrifoglio cabaret but adds a powered front axle and greatly more ground clearance into the mix.
It means you get the same rasping Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V-6 tuned to 503bhp, and the same curvaceous, pugnacious exterior styling – but now with brutal wheelarch extensions, bonnet vents and a propped-up, puffed-out position that’s perhaps simply a little bit frightening if your existing notion of an SUV is a diesel-powered Qashqai.
What we have been waiting to discover is whether additionally you get the same fluent, bienfaisant handling as the gargote on British roads. That may be traditionally the first sacrifice at the altar of your raised ride-height, and while this car has recently impressed us enormously on the glass-smooth roads of Jebel Jais in the United Arab Emirates, the salt-caked, rutted roads of the Brecon Beacons ask from it rather more challenging questions.
Will certainly the Stelvio Quadrifoglio match exterior looks with home quality?
The generous levels of carbonfibre in our test car are incredibly smooth you can see your face in it – very Italianate – with shapely fillets along the dashboard and doors. Presently there are reams of leather, too, though Alfa has snuck in quite a lot of plastic under your eyeline, which basically very becoming of a? 70, 000 car. There is also contrasting stitching (pretty, but not always properly aligned, it must be said) and as in the other Stelvio models there’s a refreshing shortage of switchgear.
Equipment is generous before you start ticking boxes, with an Apple CarPlay and Audroid Auto-ready 8. 8in infotainment system, front and back parking sensors, rear view camera, keyless entry, sightless spot detection, ambient light and a flat-bottomed activities steering wheel coming as standard.
Extras include an optional electric seats bunch, which upgrades driver and passenger with 8-way motorised adjustment and heated seating, plus a heated adjustments. There’s also a 13 speaker Harman kardon audio system, carbon ceramic brake systems, an electric sunroof, energetic cruise control and Sparco carbon shell sports seating should you want to go all out on the options list.
Build quality? Questionable, certainly. Figure? Present in abundance. In the whole, it’s comfortable and attractive, though chairs that gripped a little firmer make your knees simply a smidgeon lower would make it better still.
Does indeed the Stelvio Quadrifoglio perform like a true activities SUV?
Get stuck in behind the carbon and Alcantara steering wheel and the Stelvio feels really adjustable, which flies in the face of tradition for tall, heavy automobiles with this type. True, is actually a trait that today is usefully amplified by scrabbly winter tyres, but you can’t neglect to notice the pervasive rear-driven underchassis balance of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Has an SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE ever exhibited such wonderful poise? We’d say probably not.
It stems from the fact that the automobile is totally rear driven until the 285-section rear tires commence to over-rotate. Now, up to half the 443lb ft of available torque is sent to the front axle and in doing so opens quite freakish real-world speed. That’s what strikes you regarding this car – the phenomenal rate of cross country progress that’s possible when four-wheel drive and significant but superbly handled tire articulation meet with the motor engine this explosively potent.
The state claim is 3. 8 seconds to 62mph – simply a 10th shy of the PDK-equipped Porsche 911 GTS – and the QV feels good for it. And then there’s the noise. Cut down and turbocharged this engine may be, but in the car’s more intense Dynamic mode – and even more so in all-systems-off Race – it offers a truly devilish tune with rip-snorting upshifts. Furthermore, it doesn’t audio too contrived.
On tortuous Welsh roads, we’re pleased for a steering create that is light and quick – a Ferrari-ism to go along with huge gearshift paddles worthwhile of any supercar – and plays a good part to make this car feel less substantial than it actually is. There are also torque vectoring, which in this instance involves tactically metering out torque via a clutch either part of the electronic rear end differential. Together with the suspension providing enough pliancy to work the tyres reassuringly hard, the Stelvio zips between through corners in a manner that’s much less cantankerous than it must look. It’s sensationally effective, in all honesty.
Alfa Romeo’s advice is to leave the GENETICS switch in its core, ‘Natural’ setting for highway use, but so not cancerous is chassis that you will soon opt for ‘Race’ (albeit with the adaptable dampers softened into their medium setting).
It’s here that shifts from the eight-speed transmission finally become satisfactorily snappy and the throttle response sharpens up enough that you can fully appreciate how impressively low on turbo-lag this engine is. What you won’t immediately realise is quite how vigorously you’re chasing the throttle – until, that is, you find yourself calmly and smoothly partaking in that quarter-turn of opposite lock. In a 1845kg SUV, this is simply not what you expect, though perhaps it’s simply what happens as soon as your chassis tuning is overseen by the same man in charge of the Ferrari 458 Speciale.
Where does indeed the Stelvio Quadrifoglio stand against its rivals?
If perhaps there’s chink in the Alfa’s armour it’s the standard-fit cast-iron brakes, which exhibit too much lifeless pedal travel before biting on. We’ll put the tingling down to the winter time, on this occasion. The secondary-ride at low speeds is also fairly rough around the edges, though if that’s the trade-off for such composure when rates of speed inevitably increase, we’ll enjoyably accept it.
Lastly, will be certainly the small matter of fuel consumption, which only hovers around 29mpg at motorway speeds. Rather undermines the case for the Stelvio QV as a do-all family car, won’t it?
Despite that, if you’re unlikely to find an SUV that’s better fun to operate a vehicle – and just so generally amusing to be around – than this. On the move it includes the ability to make a Porsche Macan Turbo seem to be po-faced and at the kerbside it makes a BMW X5M resemble a tragic try-hard.
Were it does not so dynamically adept you may see those bonnet ports and mark the Stelvio QV down as some kind of caricature or parody – and yet the Stelvio QV handles with a fizz you would never associate with such a heavy beast. In addition, in this country the blend of agility and security will hold huge appeal. The next twin-test with the Macan will be a fascinating contest.
Difficulty you really need to ask yourself is how desperately you need the extra ride-height, because however broad your teeth becomes at the wheel of this hottest Stelvio, you’re destined to wonder how much broader it might have been in the fabulous Giulia.
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