From £69,5008

Alfa’s latest Quadrifoglio performance model meets the Autocar timing gear. Can a high-riding SUV possibly entertain like the sensational Giulia QV?

Were you to speculate on the identity of this week’s road test subject from its specification sheet alone, your efforts would be at risk of going widely awry. Carbonfibre-shell seats and a claimed 3.8sec 0-62mph time? Must be some sort of supercar, a notion reinforced by carbon-ceramic brake discs and a Race driving mode.

Somehow, the truth is more extreme – and unpredictable – than that. When Alfa Romeo presented its very first sports utility vehicle back in 2016 at the Los Angeles motor show, it wanted to leave an indelible mark. While lesser petrol models and their diesel counterparts were due to follow, on the stand sat the Stelvio in range-topping 503bhp Quadrifoglio form. The flamboyant styling was recognisable from the Giulia. We also knew that the engine, the same characterful twin-turbo V6 designed by former Ferrari engineer Gianluca Pivetti, would ensure bite matched bark. And it was the fabulous Giulia that gave us hope.

The ‘Quadrifoglio Verde’ four-leaf clover motif that sits above the front wheel arches first appeared on Ugo Sivocci’s Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio, with which he won the race of the same name in 1923

Alfa Romeo leaned heavily on Ferrari expertise – including the acquisition of Philippe Krief, the chassis engineer responsible for the 458 Speciale – to deliver the best-handling saloon in its century-long history. Now it was applying that experience to the on-trend world of raised ride heights. Porsche and BMW have ensured the Stelvio Quadrifoglio won’t be the first SUV with truly polished handling, but could this be the first SUV to get its owner out of bed on a Sunday morning?

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Maybe. But it’s not that simple. As an SUV, this unprecedented Alfa must also be comfortable and safe on a rainy Tuesday night, and spacious enough to collect the children from school and do a weekly shop on the way home.

In this class, extraordinary handling and a stonking powertrain will get you only so far, so just how far does the Stelvio Quadrifoglio really go?

Price £69,500 | Power 503bhp | Torque 443lb ft | 0-60mph 4.0sec | 30-70mph in fourth 4.5sec | Fuel economy 22.0mpg | CO2 emissions 227g/km | 70-0mph 55.1m

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio First drives