Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Review : Overkill is Underrated
Singapore - Cramming a large (and sometimes excessive) amount of horsepower into an SUV often results in a vehicle that does the whole straight line speed thing exceedingly well, less so when it comes to cornering finesse and agility.
It’s simple physics really. The heavier the body, the harder it is to manage the weight.
However, not all performance SUVs are made equal. Some of them actually do boast pretty impressive handling traits. And one such exception is this, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The high-riding, crossover variant of Alfa’s Giulia Quadrifoglio super saloon.
Like the quick Italian saloon, it too bears the Quadrifoglio Verde four-leaf clover badge that has graced the flanks Alfa’s high-performance vehicles since the 1920s. It’s a symbol that denotes Alfa Romeo’s illustrious heritage and racing pedigree.
A badge which, as of now in 2022, only makes an appearance on three vehicles: This Stelvio QV SUV, the Giulia QV Sedan, and Alfa Romeo’s C42 Formula One car. See what we mean by racing pedigree?
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio - The Four Leaf Clover
To put it bluntly, the Stelvio QV is an SUV that has roots stemming from the brand’s illustrious history in motorsports. Mind you, Alfa Romeo were the first winners in the inaugural Formula 1 Gran Prix back in 1950, so those are some rock-solid credentials. That’s not something we can say about some other offerings from BMW M, Audi RS or even Jaguar SVR for instance.
But whereas the other performance-bred SUVs from the aforementioned brands often festoon their fastest soft-roaders with mahoosive gaping grilles and vents, the performance add-ons fitted to the Stelvio QV look sedate in comparison. Graceful, almost.
The Stelvio Super is a rather handsome looking thing and this facelifted Stelvio QV is no exception, with the same Giulia-inspired front end and tastefully designed rear cab profile. However, the Quadrifoglio credentials mean that this Stelvio comes with some tasteful tweaks to help it look the part of a high-performance SUV.
So it gets a revised front bumper that accommodates larger vents to cool the drivetrain components, a vented hood, larger 21-inch dark alloy teledial rims, 6-piston brakes with red painted calipers, tinted tail lamps, a rear apron with quad exhaust tips finished in chrome and of course, the requisite Quadrifoglio Verde badges just aft of the front fenders.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio - Belly of the beast
Clamber into the cabin and you’d still be reminded of the Quadrifoglio Verde roots that this car has when you glance at the little four-leaf clover on the steering wheel and carbon fibre inlays scattered across the cabin. The Stelvio QV also gets body-hugging seats swathed in leather and Alcantara, lovely column mounted aluminium paddles and a glistening red start button on the steering wheel. A feature that’s faintly reminiscent of something with a Manettino dial.
But otherwise, its same old same old with one notable exception: the Alfa DNA Pro dial. Typically, those letters represent the car’s “Dynamic”, “Natural” and “Advanced Efficiency” modes (a.k.a. Sport, Normal and Eco). But the Stelvio QV gets a third option which they’ve fittingly called “RACE”, the most visceral driving mode that switches off all the stability aids and turns the volume (and pace) up to eleven.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio - The Lovely Bones
Take a gander under the vented hood and you’d find Alfa Romeo’s 2.9-litre 690T engine, the twin-turbocharged V6 heart of the Stelvio (and Giulia) Quadrifoglio that shares roots with Ferrari’s F154 V8 block, albeit with single scroll turbochargers and two cylinders shorn off.
Don’t let that fool you though, it’s a viciously potent engine that develops 510 horsepower and 600Nm of torque. All that power is kept in check by Alfa Romeo’s Q4 AWD system, which typically operates in a rear-biased fashion, but can send up to 50% of the engine’s torque to the front wheels when the ECU decides that more power is needed.
The Stelvio QV has a 50:50 weight distribution, thanks to the combination of high-strength steel, aluminium and carbon fibre in the car’s chassis and bodywork. The driveshaft is made of carbon too, like in the Giulia QV sedan. It also has double wishbones up front, and an electronic torque vectoring rear differential, so its got some lovely bones indeed.
At this point, you’re probably thinking that it’s a little excessive. Overkill almost. But here’s the thing about overkill, a little more never hurt anybody. A great number of things in life don’t need to be over-engineered, but they’re often better for it.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio - Overkill is Underrated
You see, the fraternity of performance SUVs/sedans from BMW M/Mercedes-AMG/Audi RS start off from their base model counterparts before adding all manner of uprated suspension components and large displacement engines. Alfa Romeo on the other hand, went about it the other way round. So a great number of those chassis components in the Quadrifoglio are shared with all models within the Stelvio range. Of course, this top-tier model has even greater dynamic attributes than its 2.0-litre siblings.
Stamp on the throttle and there is a comically huge lunge as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s 1830kg mass leans onto its haunches and lurches forward. It only takes 3.8 seconds for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio to get from 0-100km/h, which is a tenth of a second quicker than the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon. Flat out, you’d be pushing 283km/h if local speed limits weren’t inhibiting factors. But the best part about that speed and pace is it doesn’t just happen in a straight line.
In fact, the Stelvio QV once held the lap record for the fastest SUV around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, completing a lap of the green hell in 7 minutes 51 seconds. That record has since been broken, but a sub 8-minute Nürburgring lap in an SUV that weighs just over 1.8 tons is still mighty impressive.
It’s loud too. Shockingly loud. At full chat, it sounds utterly vicious and brutal when you pummel the throttle. At idle, the guttural exhaust note from that potent twin-turbo’ V6 is audible and distinct. Even in the car’s most eco-friendly “Advanced Efficiency” mode, the exhaust baffles do little to suppress or dampen the guttural soundtrack and upshift blips. Don’t get me started on the noise that comes out the back end in RACE mode. Suffice to say, you would most definitely wake your neighbours and give the kids something to scream about when you’re doing the school run.
If outright speed and performance were the sole factors in determining a car’s success, the Stelvio QV would be right up there in our good books. However, there are other detriments that dampen the liveability of driving such a vehicle day to day. And like most cars, the Stelvio does fall short in some aspects.
The infotainment screen in this facelift model has been enlarged to 8.8 inches and it’s a touchscreen panel now, but it’s far from being the most seamless system on the market. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard options, but wireless connectivity isn’t available even as an option. Truthfully, that negates the need for its wireless charging pad because your phone would be wired in anyway. While the cabin looks great as a whole, several of the plastic trim pieces can be a little scratchy if you rummage around. Some of the touchpoints (seat controls, windows, A/C) do feel a little dated.
Also, it is thirsty. Very thirsty.
I did manage to beat the on-paper economy figure and get it down to 9.4L/100km, but that was over a 13-kilometre stretch of uninterrupted highway cruising. In the melee of real-world traffic and peak hour congestion, the trip computer was showing an average consumption of 13.8L/100km. Drive it harder as we did, and that figure would climb even higher still.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio - Verdict: We like it
That being said, if you’re in the market looking for a performance SUV that doesn’t have a drinking problem, you may want to visit a therapist before you head to the showrooms. Us on the other hand, we’d happily go hungry just to keep the tank full.
The crossover market is already saturated with all manner of performance SUVs, the Germans have theirs, so do the Brits. However, not many would have the same flair, flamboyance and performance that this Stelvio Quadrifoglio does.
I mean, this is still a family hauler that fits all manner of barang barang that most Singaporean families would need, and it does 0-100km/h in under four seconds. It is not low key, nor is it subtle. It is excess in its rawest form, and we like it because overkill is underrated.
It doesn’t make sense, and yet it does. It is unnecessarily quick, but it’s a good thing that it is. We like it as it is. We can’t say the same for your neighbours though.
PHOTOS Jay Tee
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Engine 2891cc, V6, bi-turbo
Transmission 8-speed ZF automatic
Top Speed 283km/h
Fuel Consumption 10.2l/100km (combined)
CO2 227g/km (combined)