Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: Putting the ‘sport’ in SUV

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(Photos: Alfa Romeo)
Named after the swerving Stelvio Pass mountain stage of the historic Mille Miglia race, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio reinterprets the 112-year old Italian car manufacturer’s motorsport heritage for contemporary super SUV service. The Quadrifoglio’s seven-minute, 51.7-second 2018 world record lap as the fastest SUV on the benchmark Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit may have since been bested, but it nevertheless remains an object lesson in how a high-riding four-wheel-drive vehicle can be transformed into a bona fide “sports” vehicle.اضافة اعلان

Launched in 2018 as the high-performance variant of Alfa Romeo’s first — late arriving — SUV, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio shares much with, and fills in as an alternative to, the absent “super” estate version of its Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon sister. Driven on home ground at Alfa Romeo’s sprawling historic Balocco proving grounds, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio proved far more than a brutally quick straight line performer. Its agile and committed handling instead allowed it to deploy power on track and through winding roads to devastating effect.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a stylish super SUV that mates daily drive practicality with a combination of brute power and handling finesse, with impressive results. Its taut design is finely curved and urgently sporty without being over-stated. With a flowing roofline, rearwards cabin, jutting tailgate spoiler, large staggered alloys, and big bore quad tailpipes, the Quadrifoglio sits with athletic momentum. It is characterized by its shield-like honeycomb grille, heavily-browed slim LED  headlights, hungry gill-like side intakes, and traditional good luck four-leaf clover emblem.

Urgent, abundant, and unrelenting
Nestled under its bonnet extraction vents, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s charismatic Ferrari-developed twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 engine develops 510HP at 6,500rpm and 600Nm torque throughout a wide and accessible 2,500-5,000rpm range. With its twin IHI single-scroll turbos positioned between cylinder banks for short gas-flow paths, the Quadrifoglio has a broader range of ability than typical turbo engines. It is quick spooling and eagerly responsive from idling engine speed, yet climbs to a high 7,400rpm rev limit with unrelenting urgency. Mid-range muscle is meanwhile abundantly versatile.

With four-wheel-drive traction and sticky 255/45R20 front and 285/40R20 rear tires, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio rockets through 0-100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, and on to 283km/h. A growling, snarling, and viscerally charged beast of an SUV with muscular on-the-move acceleration, its urgently linear power accumulation is underwritten by a mighty mid-range torque band. Selecting dynamic or race driving modes makes the Quadrifoglio’s slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox snappier and more succinct, while throttle response, damper firmness, and exhaust note all similarly become sportier and more focused.

Powering the rear wheels by default for efficiency and agility, the Quadrifoglio’s Q4 four-wheel-drive redistributes up to 50 percent of power frontward for additional cornering grip. Meanwhile, an electronic limited-slip differential distributes power along the rear axle for enhanced agility and cornering traction. The accumulative effect is a weight and height defying performance SUV that turns in tidily and remains balanced and committed through curves, before blasting out of bends with vice-like grip. Large six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper brakes meanwhile provide tirelessly tenacious stopping power.

Buttoned-down brute
The Quadrifoglio dispatched Balocco’s narrow, snaking, and fast Langhe circuit with proficient poise. With selective brake-based torque-vectoring enhancing stability and agility, the Quadrifoglio is precise and eager tucking into corners, while steering is as quick, well-weighted, and communicative as SUVs get. The Quadrifoglio proved nimble, composed, and settled through Langhe. To avert mild understeer on tighter bends, cornering lines can in turn be tightened by pivoting weight to the rear and outside. In race mode, the rear could even be induced to step out momentarily.

Not as nuanced in handling feel as its lighter, rear-driven Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon sister, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s sporting ability however belies expectations of an SUV. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio proved settled and confident through the demanding Langhe circuit’s elevations, high speed straights, and intricate switchbacks, including steeply dipping corners immediately followed by sharp inclines. Handling like a lighter car rather than a hefty 1,830kg SUV, the Quadrifoglio’s masterful suspension and adaptive dampers superbly contain cornering lean and provide tautly buttoned-down vertical control over dips and crests.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s refined cabin is a distinctly sporting affair, with leather, carbon-fiber, and Alcantara aplenty. Alert and involving, its driving position is comfortable and supportive, and is complemented with driver-focused instrumentation, logical layouts, and column-mounted single-piece aluminum gearbox paddle shifters. Lighter optional carbon-fiber spined sports seats provide enhanced side support. Practical and maneuverable, the Stelvio accommodates 499 liters of luggage, and features generous safety and driver assistance equipment. The well-packaged SUV even provides unexpectedly decent rear headroom for taller drivers, especially sans sunroof.

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