There’s an ever so slight sense of float and some remoteness at times, although I’d be surprised if that weren’t adequately remedied by a set of Pirelli P Zeros. Simply, of the two cars here, it’s the Stelvio that offers the more interactive, intuitive experience and this chassis is good enough to communicate that the engine’s efforts are directed to the rear axle alone until any slip is detected. At that point, up to half the torque is directed to the front. Torque vectoring (something our Porsche similarly features, although optionally) that meters out drive via a clutch either side of the electronic rear differential is also unobtrusively calibrated.
The sheer pace of the Quadrifoglio takes some getting used to, too. The official 0-62mph claim is 3.8sec to the Porsche’s 4.4sec. It’s an absurd figure, and although the Alfa is the marginally more closely geared of the two and nearly 200kg lighter, its capacity for leaving something as quick as the Macan almost for dead on these roads is nevertheless staggering. You’ll need to engage Race mode to get the best out of this 503bhp twin-turbo V6. It sharpens the throttle response and ups the vocal ante to glorious levels. It also disables the stability control, but so benign and malleable is this chassis that you always feel in total control.
If the battle of engine and chassis is won by the newcomer, it is Porsche that has delivered the better brakes and gearbox. Both cars use a dual-clutch transmission (eight speeds for the Stelvio, seven for the Macan), and although the process of swapping cogs is sumptuously smooth whichever car you’re in, they’re whipcrack fast in the Macan. That car’s brakes also bite higher and more cleanly and inspire greater confidence through their firmer action. Were you only able to lean more committedly on the Porsche’s front axle as you can in the Alfa...
This, then, is an unusually tight contest, and the five-hour schlep back to London via the Cotswolds has the Macan working its magic to persuasive effect. Between blistering B-road stints, where it splices apices dependably and with an enjoyable enthusiasm, it is snug, quiet, wonderfully undemanding and simply a pleasure to operate. It’s tempting to give it the victory here and now. And yet my mind is still on those Welsh hillsides in an eccentric, rip-snorting Alfa Romeo that has a chassis that rewards like no other in this class. Keen drivers with their heart set on an SUV should look first to the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
How much for a used Macan?
The Macan is a tempting proposition if your need is one of fast, rewarding family transport. However, anybody tempted to rummage around the classifieds for a bargain should be warned that Macans hold their value sensationally well. Few cars perform better and our sources predict the Performance Package car featured here will still be worth a shade over £45,000, or 65% of its original value, after three years and 36,000 miles. Residuals are propped up by high demand for a car that is still in its first generation, with relatively few appearing on the used market.