The decision to launch the new SUV in 2017 with a top-end performance model mirrors the strategy currently being applied to the roll-out of Alfa’s BMW 3 Series rival, the Giulia, with which the Stelvio will share many of its underpinnings and powertrain options.
Insiders say the firm’s bosses have given engineers the go-ahead to develop the car to challenge the class best for on-road ride and handling as well as straight-line pace. The intention is that these qualities will underpin the entire model range and clearly differentiate it from the all-road prowess of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) stablemate Jeep.
High-performance V6 engine
Power for the high-performance Stelvio will come from the same twin-turbo 2.9-litre petrol V6 that sits under the bonnet of the Giulia Quadrifoglio — the engine that its maker describes as being “inspired” by sister brand Ferrari’s turbo-powered V8 without actually having any relation in structural terms. In the 1524kg Giulia, it produces 503bhp and 443lb ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 3.9sec.
However, the engine is likely to be retuned for increased torque at the expense of outright power in the Stelvio, in line with its SUV character, prompting suggestions that it may not be badged as a full-blown Quadrifoglio model. Even so, it is expected to be linked to the same eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, with a manual option unlikely to be offered.
Likewise, although rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models will be made, this top performance version is tipped to be restricted to rear drive to save weight and add agility.
That should still mean the hot Stelvio, likely to cost around £65,000, will rival the fastest SUVs for outright pace. The £50,000 Audi RS Q3 Performance hits 62mph in 4.4sec and the £62,000 Porsche Macan Turbo reaches the same speed in 4.8sec.
In particular, Alfa is said to be benchmarking the Stelvio against the Macan and Jaguar F-Pace. Insiders have indicated that the Porsche has been considered the dynamic benchmark to date, but the achievements of the XE saloon and positive early reviews of the F-Pace have forced the development team to also consider Jaguar’s contender.
The Stelvio’s development is being overseen by Ferrari’s former technical director, Roberto Fedeli, who rejoined FCA as chief technical officer from a role at BMW’s M division early this year and reports directly to Alfa and Maserati boss Harald Wester. Fedeli’s reputation was cemented during his spell at Ferrari, where he was credited with overseeing the engineering of all of its cars from 2007 to 2014, including the LaFerrari, F12 Berlinetta and 458 Italia.