Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, dynamic
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, front
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, interior, rear
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, boot
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, wheel, brake caliper
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, interior
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, dashboard

WHENEVER pundits review a car we receive a spec sheet a few days before to give us a heads-up about the vehicle - and a glance at the one for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio told me this would be no normal spell of motoring.

The facts and figures relating to this Italian stallion are simply eye-watering - power, pace and acceleration, as well as price, all set this beast apart in the SUV class and place it firmly in high-performance sports car territory.

Once the vehicle actually arrived, the visual cues as to its capabilities were plain to see.

Aside from the four-leaf clover badge on each wing, the Quadrifoglio boasts sporty body-coloured side-skirts and flared wheel arches; four tailpipes; cooling vents in the expansive bonnet; and some impressively large brake calipers peeping out from behind 20-inch alloy wheels.

Inside it is differentiated from other Stelvios by contrast stitching on the leather and alcantara upholstery and carbon fibre trim on the dashboard, door panels and centre console - complemented in our car by optional £3,250 carbonshell bucket seats.

For all its design upgrades, though, what really elevates the Stelvio Quadrifoglio out of the ordinary is what sits beneath the bonnet.

The 2.9-litre, V6 bi-turbo power plant was developed with input from Ferrari, is made from aluminium to keep the car's weight down, and kicks out a huge 510 horsepower with peak torque of 600Nm.

To call it punchy would be the understatement of the decade. This engine, mated to a ludicrously quick-shifting eight speed automatic transmission, will fire the Stelvio from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds and is capable, according to Alfa, of 176mph.

Obviously we'll have to take their word for that as it's virtually impossible to verify - even if I had the nerve - without a session on the Nurburgring.

Suffice to say that it goes like absolute stink.

Every firm prod on the gas pedal is accompanied by the most satisfying growl from those four exhausts, which goes up a further notch if you're brave enough to pick the race setting on the drive mode selector - automatically disabling the traction control.

For the most part, I don't mind admitting, I was happy to avoid this and take all the help the Stelvio Quadrifoglio offers in keeping all that power planted firmly on the road.

That assistance is considerable. Alfa's intelligent all-wheel drive system sends power to the rear axle in normal driving but can automatically transfer up to 50 percent to the front if it senses the wheels are approaching their grip limit.

Active torque vectoring is also employed to help keep you on the road as you push the car on at pace and, coupled with responsive and well-weighted steering, all this makes for a thoroughly dynamic and entertaining but reassuringly safe drive.

Such performance and pace requires a stiff chassis to help keep all that power under control and as a result the ride is on the firm side, even with the adjustable dampers, but this will be a price worth paying for enthusiasts as this is definitely the most fun you'll have in an SUV.

Talking of price, it's not cheap at £70,900 and the options list is quite long, with our car boasting an extra £15,000-worth of kit - although almost £6,000 of that was for the upgraded carbon ceramic braking system.

Standard equipment levels are very good, though, with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, keyless entry and ignition, reversing camera, multimedia interface with 8.8-inch display, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, navigation, digital radio, lane departure warning, blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking all included.

While there are undoubtedly more versatile and functional SUVs on the road, the Stelvio has room enough for four adults to travel in comfort and the boot, at 525 litres, will cope easily with the weekly shop or a family break.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Price: £70,900

Mechanical: 510ps, 2,891cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 176mph

0-62mph: 3.8 seconds

Combined MPG:24.6

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 222g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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