Alfa Romeo's high performance SUV tested on Irish roads
Pros: Scintillating performance, standout styling, engaging drive
Cons: Hefty price tag, high running costs, harsh ride quality
Hot on the heels of its first ever SUV, the Stelvio, Alfa Romeo brings a hardcore performance version of the car to the market. Feast your eyes on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio or QV, a 510-horsepower behemoth that packs enough performance and power to embarrass supercars in a straight line sprint. The Stelvio QV boasts the same 2.9-litre V6 twin turbocharged engine as Alfa’s Romeo’s incredible Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon that we tested last year, and it also gets a sporting overhaul inside and out.
The Stelvio QV recently became the fastest production SUV to ever lap the Nürburgring race circuit in Germany, dethroning the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. It faces stiff competition from a range of established rivals including Audi’s SQ5, the Porsche Macan Turbo and the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 amongst others. But are performance SUVs such as the Stelvio QV actually thrilling to drive? We put it to the test on Irish roads recently to find out.
What is it like?
The Stelvio QV looks like most other SUVs from the outside with raised ride height and plenty of road presence. Step closer and you will see it is something special however. Features such as a quad exhaust system, sculpted air intakes on the bonnet, 20-inch alloy wheels with enormous performance brake callipers and cloverleaf badges. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio certainly demands attention out on the road in similar fashion to the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon, and especially so in this vibrant red paint scheme.
The sports styling continues inside with carbon fibre detailing throughout, vibrant sports displays and a pair of ultra-comfy race seats finished in alcantara upholstery. The sports steering wheel is wonderfully-crafted with machined steel paddle shifts, and the driver’s area feels incredibly inviting. The Stelvio is practical too, with enough room to seat four tall adults in comfort, 525 litres of space in the boot and flat folding rear seats for lugging large items, although it isn’t quite as spacious as some of its rivals. The Stelvio QV boasts Alfa’s 8.8-inch connect infotainment system which is easy to use and offers good smartphone connectivity, although not as impressive as what you will find in rival models.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by an immense 2.9-litre V6 twin turbocharged petrol engine that churns out 510 horsepower and 599 Nm of torque; equivalent to three times more power than a normal family SUV! This is the same engine from the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon that we tested on Irish roads last year, although the Stelvio utilises a Q4 all-wheel drive system instead of the Giulia’s oversteering rear wheel drive platform. This means the Stelvio QV is blisteringly fast off the line, and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in a mere 3.8 seconds, going on to an evental top speed of 283km/h.
The QV's eight-speed-automatic transmission shifts with lightening precision and the sound from the V6 turbo engine and quad exhaust system is delightful to behold, with backfires and burbles during downshifts. Different driving modes can be selected via a DNA dial beside the gear lever, including a fully-fledged race mode that switches off driving aids such as stability control, stiffens the suspension and opens up the exhaust valves for a louder exhaust note. The Stelvio QV serves thrills every time you sit into the driver’s seat, although it is equally refined around town and at lower speeds when required.
Out on the road, the Stelvio QV is thrilling to drive with responsive steering and a taught suspension setup. Unlike most SUVs, the Stelvio QV corners with precision and grips through tight corners; all the more impressive with 510 horsepower going to the wheels. The Q4 all-wheel-drive system offers plenty of reassurance, although there is a hint of oversteer if you plant the throttle mid turn. That’s because the Stelvio QV is in rear wheel drive for the most part, and switches to all-wheel-drive when the rear wheels start to lose traction. As the Stelvio QV was developed with performance in mind, ride quality is somewhat harsh over bumps and on rough road surfaces.
Prices for the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio start from a €118,795 in Ireland, putting it at the top end of the performance SUV scale. It’s equipped with all sorts of niceties as standard including sports bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels, Bi-xenon headlights, alcantara sports seats, front and rear park distance control, Alfa’s connect 8.8-inch touch screen infotainment system and lots more.
Carzone verdict: 4.5/5
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio redefines performance SUVs, with eye-watering performance, agile handling and gorgeous styling upgrades. Few SUVs can match the Stelvio QV for outright performance, and it shows as the current king of the Nürburgring. That said, the Stelvio QV doesn’t have the same level of interior quality as some of its rivals, and it isn’t as comfortable during daily driving. We’ll forgive it for this fact however, as it serves up one of the most scintillating driving experiences of any SUV on the market right now. Not for the faint-hearted!
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Prices from: €118,795
Annual Motor Tax: €2350
Engine: 2891cc six-cylinder bi-turbocharged petrol
Power/Torque: 510bhp / 599Nm
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 3.8 seconds
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 521 litres
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