Four-leaf rocketship: the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio road test
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Sometimes there is a vehicle that even as a standard model is special enough, but then there is a product that has special touches that makes it extremely desirable.
Meet the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio that sits in the sports SUV segment.
Based on the scintillating Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan, Alfa’s hot SUV has the same chassis and 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 engine producing 380kW of power and 600Nm of torque. It is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift paddles. It also has a four-wheel drive system borrowed from sister company Maserati.
And added to that pedigree is the fact that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio was tuned by Roberto Fedeli, who has worked on Ferrari’s 599, F12 and 458 Speciale.
All of this makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio one special SUV.
It goes from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds, has a top speed of 283km and until recently had a Nurburgring lap record time of 7min 51sec.
It’s priced from $144,990 and is 4701mm long, 1689mm high and 1955mm wide plus sits on 20in alloy wheels.
As most Alfa fans know the Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) has been the emblem of the brand’s racing models since 1923. Invented by Targa Florio winner, the renowned driver Ugo Sivocci, the four-leaf clover emblem on the vehicles is the trademark for the brand's sportiest models.
And the Stelvio is the first SUV to get that Quadrifoglio emblem.
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It also gets Alfa’s chassis domain control that integrates the electronic stability control (ESC), the brand’s DNA driving mode that includes race, plus Alfa active torque vectoring, Alfa Active suspension, and integrated brake system (IBS). It has a 50:50 balance between the two axles that gives plenty of dynamic driving.
There is an impressive array of safety features, including forward collision warning (with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection function), lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio also has an all-new infotainment system, combining an 8.8in high definition display with a 3D Navigator, controlled by a rotary pad and an advanced voice recognition system. I do prefer a touchscreen for easy use but I know those pesky fingerprints on screens annoy a lot of car owners.
The infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a standard 14 speaker, including subwoofer, from Harman Kardon with a sound theatre system.
The cabin of Quadrifoglio is a step up from the regular Stelvio as it gets a leather-wrapped dash, carbonfibre trim throughout the interior, aluminium shift paddles and a steering wheel laced with Alcantara and carbonfibre.
Compared to sports SUV competitors such as the Porsche Macan and Audi SQ5 however, the Alfa lacks a premium feel around the likes of the air vents, with too much plastic in play.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a five seater but tall passengers may find it a bit daunting in the back for a long period of time due to the black roof lining making the cabin feel smaller than it is.
It has the addition of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto but the infotainment system can be tetchy, especially when it comes to pairing your phone and keeping it paired. But that’s just a minor niggle and an owner will pair their phone only once.
Plus there’s the engine performance and exhaust sound that makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio one delightful vehicle to spend a lot of time in.
In everyday driving, the V6 is smooth and sedate compared to when you hit the motorway and really make that engine perform.
On winding country roads, the SUV is responsive with quick steering that gives a precise feel.
Its size also benefits the drive at speed, as you feel more grounded and sedan-like than in an SUV.
With that impressive body control and four-wheel drive traction, it can be too easy to get hit 100km/h on the open road and you know there is plenty left in the engine to hit a speed of “hefty fine” or even “good-bye licence”.
The poor Stelvio Quadrifoglio has such a great engine that it would be a crime to just plod along in the city at 50km/h.
Instead, there is the enticing exhaust sound that comes with this V6. In every upshift of the eight-speed automatic gearbox is a fabulous crackle from the quad exhaust pipes. It made me smile every time.
ALFA ROMEO STELVIO QUADRIFOGLIO
Engine: 2.9L, TWIN TURBO V8 (380KW/600NM)
Pros: The engine and exhaust delight
Cons: Smaller cabin