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REVIEW – Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio


Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.9 V6 510PS Quadrifoglio
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4

Summary

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is, unquestionably, one of the most exciting and engaging performance SUVs to drive. It exudes the passion and soul that you would expect of an Alfa. It has what we’ll call ‘rustic charm’ in that the cabin is not as plush as rivals, and there are better, more comfortable cruisers. Listen to your heart, and you’d buy one in an instant. Let the head get involved, and that price tag may make you hesitant.


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Exterior Styling

Certain things, in certain situations, are a given. And, in the same way that rain is always wet, Alfa Romeo’s are always handsome. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is one of the finest examples proving that statement as fact.

Performance SUVs are often big, bulky cars. They look heavy and, in some instances, just plain awkward. But the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is almost dainty in its styling, giving a lightweight feel.

At the front the Stelvio resembles a slightly taller Giulia. There’s the infamous V-shaped grille with angular headlights either side. Large air intakes feature in the corner of the front bumper, whilst an offset number plate has a very Italian feel.

Without doubt the best feature at the front is the bonnet; wonderfully curved in shape with a subtle bulge in the middle, and incorporating two vents. It is the perfect mix of beauty and raw strength which, incidentally, is the perfect way to sum up the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

At the side, there’s a rather large Quadrifoglio (4-leaf clover) badge, and 20-inch 5-hole alloy wheels finished in dark grey. These look superb, especially when contrasted against the amazing tri-coat Competizione Red (a £2,500 extra). Colour-coded arch trims provide a subtle degree of flair, while privacy glass blends seamlessly with black window surrounds.

The prettiest lines on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio are at the rear. The lines are softer, and more curvaceous than the poised front end. The roof spoiler extends down the side of the rear window to hug those curves.

The rear bumper incorporates a centre diffuser. Either side of this is a pair of tailpipes, which are tapered upwards to match the bumper line. It’s a small detail, but the result is tremendous.

Interior Finish

Unfortunately, things aren’t so perfect on the inside. The grumbles, which we’ll get out of the way first, come with build quality and feel.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is an £80,000 car and, as such, there is a certain expectation of craftsmanship and quality that simply isn’t met. Some of the switchgear is a little cheap, epitomised by the rather horrid multimedia control, which is plastic and flimsy. It’s the same story with the gear selector.

The technology also feels somewhat primitive. We’d hope for a larger, more engaging multimedia screen, and analogue dials mean that there is no scope to create a unique Quadrifoglio display; something which would really immerse the driver.

It’s not all bad, though. The use of glossy carbon fibre throughout the cabin is inspired. It’s on the face of the dashboard, the centre console, the door cards and – for an extra £425 – on the steering wheel too.

The biggest use of carbon fibre is also one of the most expensive options available on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio: Sparco Carbonshell sports seats. They cost – wait for it – £3,250 but we would struggle not to tick the option box. They are less bulky than the standard seat, and the fully-exposed carbon fibre back is in keeping with the finisher throughout the cabin.

The use of both leather and alcantara enhances sportiness, and red contrast stitching complemented the exterior paint. Other colour combinations are available for you to complement different exterior colours.

The optional steering wheel also uses alcantara and, thankfully, the oversized gear shift paddles are aluminium. Those are nice materials to feel and to hold, which is important when you’re sat in the hot seat.

Engine/Performance

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a performance SUV; a segment that is becoming increasingly crowded. And yet when it comes to performance – perhaps the most important aspect with these cars – the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is head and shoulders above the rest.

Under the bonnet lies a 2.9-litre Bi-Turbo V6 petrol engine. Word on the street is that it is a Ferrari V8 with two cylinders omitted. This has never been officially confirmed, but then it’s not been denied either… take from that what you will.

Power is a fierce 510PS and 600Nm of torque. This is sent to a Q4 all-wheel drive system via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The associated performance figures are truly blistering: 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, and a top speed of 176mph.

That’s actually slightly faster to 62mph than the Giulia Quadrifoglio, thanks to that Q4 all-wheel drive system.

The Stelvio uses a tweaked version of Alfa-Romeo’s DNA drive system, which stands for ‘Dynamic’, ‘Natural’ and ‘All-weather’. For the Quadrifoglio model, this is expanded to include a ‘Race’ mode. Settings for steering weight, throttle responsiveness, suspension firmness and exhaust not all vary by mode.

Race mode is where you want to be, as this allows the V6 to bark through its four exhausts. The throttle response is electric, and the gear shift savage. It makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio feel alive, especially if you take control using the gear shift paddles.

You need only touch the paddle and you are propelled to the next gear, where the surge of acceleration continues to pin you back in your seat. You get cracks from the exhaust on both up and down shifts; it’s pure, smile-inducing euphoria.

Ride/Handling

In addition to not looking like an SUV, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio doesn’t drive like one either.

The Q4 all-wheel drive system is actually biased to the rear. It will move power to the front wheels for additional grip, but for the most part the Stelvio behaves very much like its saloon counterpart; the Giulia.

That means the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is nimble, and playful. Give it a bootful round a corner and the back end will step out. Not majorly – by the time you’ve dialled in a couple of degrees of opposite lock the Q4 system will have sent some power to the front to keep you facing the right direction – but enough to put a smile on your face.

The steering is perfectly weighted and, despite lacking in feel, is direct enough to inspire confidence on a technical, demanding road. The perfect 50-50 weight distribution – an impressive feat of engineering on a car like this – undoubtedly helps.

Our test car had the optional carbon ceramic braking system. It’s not a cheap option either, at £6,500 – but you can’t fault the stopping power. There are no issues bringing the not insubstantial 1,830kg Stelvio Quadrifoglio to an abrupt halt. We haven’t tested the standard brakes, but do wonder whether you really need to spend so much money for something that is really for use on the track.

The Stelvio has an adaptive suspension setup which alters based on the drive mode. There are three damping settings – ‘Soft’, ‘Mid’ and ‘Hard’ – which range from ‘pleasant on the motorway’ to ‘spine shattering if used at the wrong time’.

Alfa has, thankfully, allowed you to wind back the damping by one setting at the touch of a button. So you can be in race mode, but with mid damping – a formidable combination.

Economy

Anyone who is actually contemplating the purchase of a Stelvio Quadrifoglio will not care about economy. Nevertheless, we shall provide the information on the off-chance someone asks you down the pub and you can tell them just how much fuel your Alfa Romeo drinks.

Combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 28.8mpg. It’s not exactly impressive, but is actually more than we were expecting. The majority of cars in this segment are thirsty motors.

And the ones that can actually compete with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio on performance tend to use V8s. So in that regard the Alfa is probably one of the more economical cars amongst its rivals.

CO2 emissions are a hefty 227g/km on the WLTP cycle, which is now the standard used by H.M. Government for the purposes of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). At that level of emissions the VED charge is £1,850 in the first year.

VED is £150 thereafter, but in years 2 to 6 it will also incur the VED surcharge (for cars with a list price of more than £40,000) which adds a further £325 in those years.

The high emissions – combined with a high list price – mean that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is unlikely to appeal to company car drivers.

There isn’t really a lot more to say. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio can be tame if you use it in all-weather mode, which makes the throttle pedal less responsive. It features start/stop technology, and even has cylinder deactivation.

But ultimately this is not an eco-warrior car. It’s fast, and fun. So who cares that you’ll forever be at a petrol station? At least you’ll get some nods of approval from fellow motorists, which will make you feel better as the Stelvio empties your wallet. Again.

Practicality

One of the main benefits of choosing an SUV as your performance vehicle is that you can have all the exhilaration without compromising practicality. You don’t have to leave the kids at home or abandon the shopping to have fun.

On the face of it, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio fits the bill entirely. It has decent legroom in the back, even with the bulky carbon sportshell seats up front. The middle seat isn’t the most comfortable for an adult, but then that’s true of most cars these days.

The boot is a respectable 525 litres, which is plenty for doing the weekly shop, or shoving some suitcases in for those airport runs.

And yet, the Stelvio scores a measly three stars. “Why?” you might ask. Well, because there are much better performance SUVs to live with every day.

The Alfa is not rated for towing. The standard Stelvio is, and does quite well in fact, but not the Quadrifoglio. If you don’t have anything to tow, you won’t care. But a Range Rover Sport SVR can still pull a horse box.

One of the most annoying traits of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is how its front differential behaves at full lock, for slow-speed manoeuvring. It grabs, fighting itself. Now this is one side-effect of having a high-performance differential but, again, rivals don’t have this issue.

Combine these issues with the aforementioned quality concerns over certain vital switchgear/controls and it means the Stelvio Quadrifoglio just isn’t refined enough to feel luxurious in everyday life. It is clearly weighted to the performance side of the scale, and excels in this regard. But then why not just buy a Giulia Quadrifoglio and save yourself a few quid?

Equipment

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio has a comprehensive standard specification, which customers will undoubtedly expect at this price point.

20-inch alloy wheels and the stunning Quadrifoglio body styling is standard, as is an interior clad in leather, alcantara and carbon fibre.

There’s plenty in the comfort and convenience category, too. Keyless entry and go, power tailgate, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights, automatic wipers and cruise control are all standard. For those cold mornings you get heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. If you want more sophisticated convenience then the Driver Assistance Pack adds things like lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

On the infotainment front there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. In addition, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio has satellite navigation, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth hands-free. And  if you want to properly enjoy your favourite driving songs , the optional Harmon Kardon premium sound system is definitely an option box you’ll want to tick.

It’s also reassuring to know that Alfa Romeo hasn’t held back on safety equipment either. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio features blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. A rear-view camera with guide lines makes reversing a breeze.

Perhaps the most notable omission in the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is some of the latest driver-focussed technology; things like a head-up display, or even a digital instrument cluster. With cars like this, those features only enhance the driving experience.

A head-up display allows you to glance at key information whilst remaining focussed on the road, and a digital instrument cluster would allow for some driver customisation, or even Quadrifoglio-specific display modes. The omission of these is certainly not a deal-breaker, but more of a missed opportunity.

Value For Money

And now we come to the final section which, unfortunately, could be a deal-breaker. We must talk about price, and this is not a strong area for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

The starting price for this high-performance machine is £73,195. It’s not what you’d call “cheap” but then neither are its rivals.

But that’s not the end of the matter. There are quite a few optional extras that can be fitted to a Stelvio Quadrifoglio, and some of them cost a pretty penny.

Take the tri-coat Competezione Red paint. Stunning colour, but will cost you £2,500. Choose the dark-coloured alloy wheels and that’s a further £695. Painted brake calipers – black, red or yellow – are £595.

Inside, we love the Sparco Carbonshell Sport seats. But they come with a hefty £3,250 price tag. Furthermore, you also lose the electrically-adjustable seats, and with that goes the heated seats and steering wheel. Ouch.

The carbon fibre and alcantara steering wheel is £425. An opening panoramic sunroof is £1,250. Heated rear seats are £350, and a Harmon Kardon sound system is £595.

The mighty carbon ceramic brakes are a whopping £6,500, and the Driver Assistance Plus Pack – containing more enhanced driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition – is £1,500.

By the time our test car was finished, the price was an eye-watering £89,285. Not only does that put the Stelvio Quadrifoglio more directly in the firing line of rivals, but you have to worry about depreciation and residual values. We would hope that a car this special would hold decent value in the second-hand market, but it’s a lot of money to lose if it doesn’t.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.9-litre, V6 Bi-Turbo petrol
Max power 510PS at 6,500rpm
Max torque 600Nm at 2,500rpm
Drivetrain 8-speed automatic transmission, Q4 all-wheel drive
0-62mph 3.8 seconds
Top speed 176mph
Fuel tank size 64 litres
Fuel consumption 28.8 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 227 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,830kg
Towing capacity N/A braked / N/A unbraked
Luggage capacity 525 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £73,195
Price as tested £89,285
Company website www.alfaromeo.co.uk/models/quadrifoglio/stelvio-quadrifoglio

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