Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Alfa Romeo made a bold statement with the launch of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, a muscular 510hp 2.9 litre V6 Bi-Turbo SUV cross-over, late last year. It felt as though Alfa Romeo’s owner, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, had quietly rolled its tanks into a stretch of premium SUV-populated land hitherto owned by the likes of BMW and Porsche. Alfa pitched the Stelvio Quadrifoglio as the fastest SUV available (based on its speed around Germany’s Nurburgring race-track) and with a top speed of 283km/h and a 0-100km time of 3.8 seconds, it’s not dif-ficult to see why the Stelvio pipped its closest rivals with a circuit time of 7 minutes 51.7 seconds (that’s about 8 seconds quicker than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S managed around the same track).
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio handles beautifully on winding mountain roads.
But the Stelvio Quadrifoglio does not need these boasts: The more subjective but far less measureable category of driving pleasure sees to that. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio does something unusual, seemingly ticking all of the boxes for so many different drivers in just about every situation – race track, hair-pin mountain bends or urban traffic – it is the master of all and still manages to throw in a distinctive Italian verve in each situation.
Named after the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps it seemed only fitting to put the vehicle through its paces in the winding, steep inclines of the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais, which rises to 1,934m.
The Stelvio has an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
What’s first noticeable about the Stelvio is it’s car-like handling, which is quite a feat for Alfa to have pulled off with its first SUV. It feels nimble and handles beautifully, truly coming into its own at higher speeds, with the V6 delivering maximum power of 510hp at 6,500 rpm and generating a maximum torque of 600 Nm from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. It feels like it’s only just getting started at 120km/h, the maximum speed on the UAE’s highways. This is perhaps no surprise with the Stelvio boasting best-in-class specific power (176 hp/l)
and weight/power ratio (3.6 kg/hp). This was achieved, Alfa claims, through perfect weight distribution between the two axles and the use of ultra-light-weight materials such as carbon fibre for the driveshaft and aluminium for the engine, suspensions, brakes, doors, wheel-arches, bonnet and tailgate. The results are more simple: Put your foot to the floor and the Stelvio gives the kind of eloquent growl you would expect from an Italian sports car in a higher price bracket, and launches forward – the twin turbo propelling the 1,660kg hulk from 60km/h to 120km/h in the blink of an eye.
The Stelvio is equally proficient along the winding roads at Jebel Jais, where its Alfa Torque Vectoring technology optimises the vehicle’s drive distribution, heightening its sporting character. What this means on the ground is that the Stelvio steers like a dream with a level of responsiveness that makes the driver feel totally in control of every hairpin, while the AWD system helps keep a firm grip on the tarmac.
The Stelvio’s four driving modes, which can be conveniently flipped between via a dial in front of the gear lever, make it effortlessly fit for all seasons. The Dynamic mode (responsive and fast, but less aggressive than Race) affords the Stelvio plenty of panache on the ascent up Jebel Jais, ultra-responsive on the bends and accelerating on to the steep straights with ease. Alfa Romeo has crafted an SUV that is equally suited for the race circuit, mountain trail or a family jaunt. The only downside was giving it back.
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