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First drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo UK.

First drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (2020MY)
The most invigorating hot SUV in the world now has a cabin that doesn’t let the rest of the blinding package down.

 



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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (2020MY)

5 5 5 5 5

In a move to tie it in with both its own range of regular models and also its ferocious supersaloon cousin, the fantastic Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio gains a much-improved cabin - addressing what was pretty much the only slight drawback with this hot SUV in the first place.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (2020MY)
Pricing: Stelvio range from £39,620, Quadrifoglio from £73,195, car as tested £77,625
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
Transmission: Q4 all-wheel drive, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: five-door performance SUV
CO2 emissions: 261g/km (VED Band Over 255: £2,175 first 12 months, then £475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 24.6mpg
Top speed: 176mph
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 2,500-5,000rpm
Boot space: 499-1,600 litres

What's this?

As with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the 2020 model year Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio doesn't look any different on the outside, apart from the fact it can now run on 21-inch alloys - a first for any Quadri, although it still leaves the slightly 'gappy' effect above the Stelvio's wheels in the arches - while some of its exterior detailing has gone dark (most notably the rear LED lamp clusters) and there are fresh colours to choose from for the bodywork. Including, yes, Montreal Green; this would be a marvellous finish for any vehicle, not just the Alfa. Anyway, we've always liked how the Stelvio looks, albeit that previously mentioned odd stance which doesn't allow the wheels to quite fill the arches is one thing we're not so keen on, and so the 2020MY car is a suitably handsome thing indeed.

Inside, a significantly enhanced cabin is a most welcome addition to the overall package. The gearlever and steering wheel are swaddled in soft leather, so they feel far superior to the touch, while both the main 8.8-inch infotainment and the screen in the instrument cluster have been spruced up considerably, both looking nicer and operating more intuitively than before. There's a wireless smartphone charging pad incorporated into the transmission tunnel and a broader spread of advanced driver assist safety systems to go at, and - again like the Giulia Q - the net result of these alterations is that what was once a pleasant cabin let down by some shoddy details and ho-hum material finishing is now a very, very good cabin with no obviously glaring weaknesses; it's not class-leading in here by any stretch of the imagination, of course, but conversely it is generally excellent to look at, operate and sit in.

How does it drive?

You need to keep two things uppermost in your mind when driving a Stelvio Quadrifoglio, as they are pertinent to understanding why it is such a scintillating SUV to drive. The first is weight, or lack of it. At 1,830kg, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is hardly what you'd call a low-mass track-day special, but by the standards of any fast SUV with 500hp and more, it's getting on for a good 200 kilos trimmer than any even vaguely comparable rival; and possibly 500kg lighter than a few of the portliest, if you stretch the parameters of the Stelvio's competition to their fullest extent. This couples beautifully with the second point on the Alfa's make-up, which is that it might well say Q4 on the back of it, it might well be that its parent company calls it all-wheel drive, but in reality the Quadrifoglio's system prefers to shove 100 per cent of the torque at the back wheels alone. It will only divert a maximum of 50 per cent to the leading axle in times of extreme crisis; compare this to rivals with 40:60 front-to-rear splits, or even 30:70, which will actually revert to a front-biased set-up when required, and you can see the Stelvio could almost be considered the only rear-driven rapid SUV of the lot.

This makes it an unusual driving experience at first, because it feels a lot nervier and less planted than many similar rivals. It's not a quick, high-riding vehicle that you can just get in and drive as fast as you dare from mile one. You need to learn things about it. You need to filter through some of its more skittish behaviours on less-than-ideal road surfaces. You need to realise that what you have here is a chassis that offers genuine driver investment and reward, rather than all-grip-and-all-go pace from the first instant. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is most definitely a Giulia Quadrifoglio on taller suspension. The way they both go about their business defines the fact they both sit on the Giorgio platform.

And what a preposterously capable platform it is. Hence why we think the Stelvio remains one of the best-handling SUVs in the world right now, which - by extension - means ever. You can try things like the Porsche Macan Turbo, if you wish, or even its GTS relation; or, on the subject of black-detailed Stuttgart models and if you're after a 'larger' SUV than the Alfa Romeo, then the spiciest Cayenne of all - and remember, the Cayenne was the first SUV that went the furthest in making its owners feel like they were in a sports car rather than a tall, heavy 4x4 - is well worth considering. Meanwhile, those with deep pockets ought to think about the Aston Martin DBX, another SUV with a startlingly blessed chassis.

However, as much as we revere all of these three vehicles, it's the Stelvio which takes the overall dynamic crown for us. Once you've keyed into it, you'll adore it. It has the same epic steering as the Giulia Q, the same wonderful gearbox with the terrific ally paddle shifts, the same brilliant V6 noise, the same sort of brutal turn of pace (the Stelvio's Q4 advantages mean it is quicker to 62mph from rest than the Giulia by a tenth of a second, if that matters to you), and the same delightful eagerness and thrilling engagement in the corners. Sure, the Stelvio leans a bit more when you hurl it into bends, there's just a trace of additional squat and dive when it's accelerating hard or you're anchoring full-on from higher speeds, but if you put us in the driver's seat without letting us see the outside and said this was a Giulia Quadrifoglio Sportwagon estate, we'd have no reason to disbelieve you. That's how good the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is dynamically.

And yet, it functions just as wonderfully as an SUV. The cabin's spacious, the boot's roomy, the ride quality is surprisingly decent on the big alloy wheels, the suppression of external noise contributors when you're in the passenger compartment and doing motorway speeds is top-notch. That V6 engine and silken eight-speed ZF gearbox are more than happy to just burble around at low speeds, and the Alfa's real magic touch is that it feels every bit as special when you're not driving it as hard as is humanly possible as it does when you're pushing the edges of the dynamic envelope and revelling in its innate balance. It is almost every last scintilla as talented as the Giulia Quadrifoglio; it's merely that, this time around, all the superb oily bits of Giorgio and that 2.9-litre twin-turbo drivetrain are in the body of an SUV instead.

Verdict

We'll keep this short like our summation of the 2020MY Giulia Quadrifoglio: if you're a keen driver and you want a premium-level, super-fast SUV, you will not do any better in the slightest than the updated Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Now the cabin has been polished up, it is a thoroughly magnificent - and world-beating - machine in every single regard.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 30 Jul 2020









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2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.








 

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