DID you get an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio for Christmas? It should have been right at the top of your list -not that you'll find it in the Argos catalogue.
You know from its stunning looks, the top of the range Stelvio is going to be something special but as soon as you punch the red button on the steering wheel, you can feel it.
This superb-looking SUV is powered by a Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre, 503bhp twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, mated to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic.
This produces maximum torque of 600Nm from 2,500 to 5,000rpm, giving the Stelvio Quadrifoglio a zero to 62mph time of just 3.8 seconds, and a top speed of 176mph. For a 1,830kg SUV, it is ferocious - and sounds fantastic too, with plenty of exhaust pops and bangs as you work the gearbox.
It officially returns 24.6mpg and over more than 500 miles I managed a creditable 21.3mpg. We are talking supercar levels of performance here though.
Alfa has thrown a lot of performance technology at the Stelvio Quadrifoglio to keep this beast on the straight and narrow, including the Italian marque's Q4 all-wheel-drive system. 'Active Torque Vectoring' helps get the power down through the bends, 'Active Suspension' varies the damping and 'Alfa Chassis Domain Control' connects the different systems to deliver the best set-up as the car is being driven. This all adds up to a perfect blend of performance, traction, driving pleasure and safety.
The Q4 system is rear-biased so sends 100 per cent of the engine's power to the rear wheels in normal driving. However, at the sign of any slip, up to 50 per cent is immediately transported to the front axle for extra all-round grip.
The Alfa is spurred into action by a prod of the aforementioned red button on the steering wheel. If the way ahead is clear, the initial acceleration can be absolutely savage, yet the steering is super sharp and accurate. Even if you poke the Stelvio into its larier Dynamic mode, it remains an incredibly fast, yet agile and secure performance car.
Though the automatic shift is seamless, I guarantee you will want to use the stylish and slender aluminium paddles - things of beauty in themselves - fitted to the steering column and change gear yourself. It is intoxicating.
With such high-performance at its heart, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio stands out from others models in the range due to its flared wheel arches, wide 21-inch Pirelli P Zero-shod alloy wheels, quad exhaust tips, carbon fibre bonnet, and beefier brakes. At the rear, there's a lower rear air diffuser and smarter LED rear light clusters with dark lenses.
The interior features the same dynamic intent but with a touch of typically Italian elegance. The cabin has been tastefully tailored with premium materials such as carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara, and is a genuinely lovely, comfortable place to be.
However, there are a couple of grumbles. Both the driver and front passenger seats have to be manually adjusted, despite the £70,000 price tag. And, while the driving position is good, more adjustment for the steering column would be welcome.
Also, while the optional, £3,250 carbon-backed Sparco sports seats are stylish and comfortable, when you drive without a front seat passenger, the seat belt clip has an annoying habit of banging noisily against the carbon fibre. However, these are minor grumbles.
The centre of the dashboard is dominated by the new ‘AlfaConnect' 8.8-inch infotainment system, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-mirroring, DAB audio, and satnav. The system is easy to control with its centre-console-mounted rotary controller.
Standard equipment also includes a rear view camera, adaptive headlights and a full suite of active safety systems.Advanced Driver Assistance Systems include Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Active Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition with Intelligent Speed Control, Traffic Jam Assist with Highway Assist and Driver Attention Assist. There's also an Autonomous Emergency Braking system with pedestrian detection, plus a Forward Collision Warning set-up.
Despite its high-performance credentials, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio remains a practical, mid-sized SUV. There's plenty of space up front and the cabin boasts plenty of storage for family life, including a cooled glove box for those long trip treats. There's a good-sized boot too - 525 litres of space which increases to 1,600 with the rear seats folded. An electric tailgate comes as standard for added practicality.