Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Review
With 510hp and all-wheel drive, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is as rapid around corners as it is in a straight line, but its interior quality is less impressive.
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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio proved a lot of people wrong when it first arrived – after all, it was an SUV that managed to be very nearly as much fun to drive as a super-saloon (in this case, the Giulia Quadrifoglio). But like a seasoned Hollywood actor, a facelift has kept it looking the part and ready to take on the young guns.
That competition includes the Porsche Macan, Audi SQ5, Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and Maserati Levante. However, the Alfa beat all of them to the Driver’s Award in the 2018 carwow awards, and remains the best sporty SUV to drive.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio uses the same engine as the saloon Giulia Quadrifoglio: a 503hp turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol – derived from a Ferrari engine, no less. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio gets a more SUV-appropriate all-wheel-drive set-up. Clever on-board tech means that it can switch between rear and all-wheel drive automatically to improve traction when needed.
It’s particularly effective when doing a standing start, where all four wheels deploy that power to deliver 0-62mph in just 3.8sec. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is a delight to use, as the large aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel are tactile and the gearbox itself is swift and responsive.
Of course the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is superb at going around corners as well as in a straight line. You can choose between Advanced Efficiency, Normal, Dynamic and Race modes, altering things like throttle response, gear changes, steering weight and the suspension. There’s a button to stiffen – or soften – the suspension independently of the drive mode, too.
Set to the softer of the two modes, the Stelvio is pretty smooth, especially on the motorway. Stiffen it up and body control improves, though it’s best saved for very smooth roads. The steering is very quick, so the Stelvio feels very responsive in bends, and there’s loads of grip too.
Set it into Race mode and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio transforms into a sports car – it’ll happily move around with use of the throttle through bends in a way that very few SUVs ever can. Only the Porsche Macan gets close, as other performance SUVs are disappointing to drive. We’d like the option to have the performance and engine noise of Race mode without having to turn off the safety systems, though.
Although it’s better to drive than alternatives, it doesn’t quite have the upmarket appeal inside. The Alfa’s dashboard uses a bit of carbon fibre trim, which you may like, but there are more cheap-looking plastics than in a Porsche or Audi.
You’d assume that, as a sort of jacked-up Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio would feel a lot less fun to drive. The truth is, it’s an absolute hoot
At least there’s a new 8.8-inch infotainment system on the latest version of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, plus new traffic jam assist, lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control tech. The new infotainment has an updated user interface and an added page to see performance data, too.
This recent update to the Stelvio also added a new 21-inch wheel option, new paint colours and different LED rear lights.
The SUV styling brings with a higher driving position than the Giulia Quadrifoglio, though the sporty seats are just as comfortable and provide lots of support. There’s enough room in the back for two adults, but the middle seat is a bit too tight to add another.
Boot space is a strong point and there’s enough room for a couple of large suitcases plus a few more soft bags. Fold the seats down and you’ll have no trouble getting a bike inside, though you’ll have to lift it up into the tailgate. The rear styling of the Stelvio means rearward visibility isn’t very good, but a reversing camera helps mitigate this.
There’s lots of other equipment, including leather seats, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers. Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection and the aforementioned lane departure warning are also standard.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a previous award-winner for good reason, as it brings together performance, practicality, visual appeal and even a bit of comfort in one package. If it’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, check out our deals page.