From £69,5008
Alfa Romeo has turned up the heat on its first SUV with the 503bhp Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but can it engage and thrill like the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon?

Our Verdict

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio review hero front

Alfa has given the Stelvio the cloverleaf treatment. Can a high-riding SUV possibly entertain like the sensational Giulia QV?

4 December 2017

What is it?

According to its maker, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the fastest production SUV you can buy.

That’s a tricky claim to verify, though, because there are so many different ways to interpret that slippery F-word. There are SUVs that better 503bhp Stelvio’s 3.8sec 0-62mph time, after all, and SUVs that shade its 176mph top speed.

What Alfa Romeo bases that somewhat bold claim on, then, is the Stelvio QV’s eye-opening 7min 51.7sec Nürburgring lap time, which is an SUV record. It wasn’t all that long ago that dedicated sports cars were recording seven-fifty-something laps around the Nordschleife. No matter how tired you are of hearing such lap times being flung back and forth, it cannot be denied that a sub-eight minute lap around that place is extremely fast for a high-riding 4x4.

Designed and developed by the same team that brought us the rather wonderful Giulia Quadrifoglio sports saloon, the high-performance Stelvio is dripping with genuine sports car hardware. Its 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 and eight-speed automatic gearbox are borrowed from the Giulia QV - with specific calibration and ratios - but here drive is sent to the road by Alfa Romeo’s Q4 four-wheel drive system.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

In normal driving, 100% of torque is sent to the rear wheels. Only when they begin to slip is drive shunted forwards, and even then, no more than 50% can be sent to the front axle.

The rear differential incorporates a pair of clutch packs that split torque between the rear wheels. This active torque vectoring makes the Stelvio more nimble, Alfa reckons. The car is suspended by double wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, with adaptive damping.

The engine is mounted mostly behind the front axle line to aid weight distribution, while the use of carbonfibre and aluminium panels keeps weight to a minimum. Even so, at 1830kg, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is no featherweight.

There are various drive modes, including an Eco mode that reduces fuel consumption by shutting off three of the engine's cylinders - although this can also happen in Normal mode - and a Dynamic mode that sharpens the throttle response, reduces gearshift times, tightens up the dampers and adds weight to the steering. Race mode turns everything up another notch while standing down the stability control system. It's possible to switch the dampers back into an intermediate setting within Race mode. 

What's it like?

There are several very powerful SUVs on the market that are colossally fast in a straight line and just about composed enough in bends to keep a hold of the Tarmac, but there aren’t many that are genuinely entertaining to drive. The Stelvio QV is undoubtedly one of those few.

Inevitably, its high ride height, chunky kerb weight and lofty centre of gravity mean it’s nowhere near as planted or as responsive as the Giulia QV, but it does have a remarkable level of precision and body control and a usefully neutral cornering balance.

The steering is direct, quick and very intuitive, while the front end finds reasonable bite on turn-in. The car will push on in understeer when you really chase it, but there’s enough front-end grip to carry proper sports car-rivalling pace along a winding road.

The four-wheel drive system makes light work of transferring all that power and 443lb ft of torque to the road. If you’re really clumsy with the throttle, you’ll make the car slide ever so slightly away from a corner or understeer if you open it too early in the bend, but with a little care, you can hook all four tyres up perfectly and slingshot the car away from the apex without a hint of waste.

There isn’t the on-throttle adjustability or playfulness of the Giulia QV, but thanks to the torque vectoring, the Stelvio does have very positive drive and a level of agility that seems at odds with its raised seating position. The chassis is poised enough that you can actually adjust your line slightly mid-corner, whereas many SUVs are stuck to a trajectory the moment you turn in to a bend.

The Stelvio QV’s ride was settled and composed on the very smooth Emirati roads of our test drive, but given that chassis engineers often resort to hefty anti-roll bars and plenty of rebound damping - both of which have a habit of knackering ride quality - to make SUVs handle, we’ll have to wait and see how well this car deals with a properly challenging British B-road. Alfa's engineers assure us it rides bumps with the same remarkable fluidity as its saloon sister.

Just as it is in the Giulia QV, Alfa's 2.9-litre turbo V6 is a sharp, responsive and rev-hungry unit that delivers massive straight-line performance. And the soundtrack is even quite evocative, which is unusual for a turbocharged unit.

The auto' 'box, meanwhile, is plenty quick enough - in Race mode, it’s almost as snappy as a twin-clutch unit - and it’s smooth and refined at low speeds.

Where the Giulia QV falls short of its competition is in its interior, and the same is true of the Stelvio QV. Some of the plastics are a touch brittle and the switchgear looks and feels very mainstream, rather than premium, although there’s nothing offensive about it.

The seating position is very good, though, while the optional carbonfibre-shelled sports seats offer plenty of lateral support.

Should I buy one?

The Stelvio QV is genuinely fun to drive along a demanding road. It's perhaps the most rewarding performance SUV you can buy, in fact.

But if that sort of engagement really matters to you, you’d be much better served by a sports saloon. The Giulia QV is more engaging still, it’s prettier and it’ll even stand up to the odd trackday. But, if you really must have a hatchback boot and lofty driving position, the Stelvio QV would make a very fine substitute

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Where Jebel Jais, United Arab Emirates On sale Summer 2018 Price £67,000 (est) Engine 2891cc, V6, twin-turbocharged, petrol Power 503bhp at 6500rpm Torque 443lb ft at 2500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerbweight 1830kg Top speed 176mph 0-62mph 3.8sec Fuel economy 31.4mpg CO2 rating 210g/km Rivals Porsche Macan Turbo, Mercedes-AMG GLC 63

Join the debate

Comments
8

4 December 2017

I can't stand saloons so I can't agree with you on that. Saw a few Stelvios in the flesh and they genuinely make me drool. Alfa say they won't be making a Sportwagon (big, big mistake) because they reckon that people looking for a more practical Giulia will just buy the Stelvio. Sales figures for the usual Touring, Avant, T-Modell and Sportbrake seem to suggest otherwise.

Kudos to Alfa anyway. We've had 5 in the family. The 164-156-166-159 all had mostly four-pots for the "cooking" models and V6 for the range-topper. While that has not changed, thanks to turbocharging the "cooking" models have gone from 150 to up to 280PS and the V6 from 240-260 to 510.... essentially doubled, in but one generation, and with the chassis to go with it. Very well done indeed and I wish them lots of success.

4 December 2017

is this model really £67,000??

4 December 2017
Hedonist wrote:

is this model really £67,000??

And your issue with that is?

4 December 2017

The Stelvio that went round the Nurburgring was far from standard; and not at all what you cna buy at your retailer.

For a start the rollcage that your dealer can't supply would have added a level of stiffness and body rigidity that you can't get otherwise.

And then there's the deletion of the rear seats and other weight-saving measures you wouldn't want.

And the tyres were specials

etc., etc.

4 December 2017

"And then there's the deletion of the rear seats and other weight-saving measures you wouldn't want."

 

 

no there isnt

4 December 2017
Really can't take the reviews by Autocar seriously anymore. On the one hand you have reviews of JLR products where the elephant in the room, weight and how it affects the vehicle is rarely mentioned and their relatively poor interior quality is glossed over on the account of the review being an 'Autocar' review and 'Autocar' is a magazine for enthusiasts who care nothing for scratchy plastics and panel alignment and the reviews read like advertorials and are nothing but positive and are all the more cringe worthy for it. We then have have reviews such as this, where the product is clearly an enthusiasts dream car and yet we have an overall negative review that highlights the vehicles weight, which in JLR realms is light and the car's (lack of) interior quality, which isn't actually that bad is again highlighted. What is it that AC want from a car? Or is it that they are so far up JLR's backside that it's becoming an industry joke that they simply cannot see what they are writing anymore. Time for an Editor change and bring back some credibility to this once great magazine.

5 December 2017
Marc wrote:

Really can't take the reviews by Autocar seriously anymore. On the one hand you have reviews of JLR products where the elephant in the room, weight and how it affects the vehicle is rarely mentioned and their relatively poor interior quality is glossed over on the account of the review being an 'Autocar' review and 'Autocar' is a magazine for enthusiasts who care nothing for scratchy plastics and panel alignment and the reviews read like advertorials and are nothing but positive and are all the more cringe worthy for it. We then have have reviews such as this, where the product is clearly an enthusiasts dream car and yet we have an overall negative review that highlights the vehicles weight, which in JLR realms is light and the car's (lack of) interior quality, which isn't actually that bad is again highlighted. What is it that AC want from a car? Or is it that they are so far up JLR's backside that it's becoming an industry joke that they simply cannot see what they are writing anymore. Time for an Editor change and bring back some credibility to this once great magazine.

Funny you say that really because the same is true of VAG products reviewed on here and the number of reviews...... 

5 December 2017

Try as I might, I cannot shake that silly hankering for the old 1.6 twin-cam engine that pushed Giulettas a long in my youth; even the boxer in the AlfaSud was flat (no pun!) by comparison... Never mind!

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week