Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.9 V6 BiTurbo 510 Quadrifoglio 5dr Auto
Those paddleshifters are quite a good place to start, actually, as they’re an instantly tangible way to realise Alfa has done this properly. They’re fixed in place – so don’t move with the wheel – and are long enough that you’ll reach them with all the amounts of steering lock you’d want to be changing gear with. They ping beautifully in a way the stubby little plastic shifters in basically all of the Stelvio’s rivals don’t.
If you’ve bought a ‘regular’ Stelvio we reckon you might just leave the gearbox to its own devices more often than not. Its 4cyl engines are good if a tiny bit uninspiring, though they’re more than exciting enough for the family runaround duties we suspect this car will be employed for. If it’s smooth progress you’re after, then the 2.0 petrol suits the car rather well, and we’d recommend it over the diesel if the sums add up for you.
A soaring 70s Alfa Busso V6 this is not, but with 280bhp, 296lb ft, 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds in its upmost trim (and some enhanced exhaust noise craftily pumped in through the speakers on hard throttle) it has more flair than you might expect. It places the Stelvio somewhere in the white space between an Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI and a Porsche Macan S, and gives it a genuine sporty edge. Oddly though, for an engine that revs so freely, the redline is set rather abruptly at around 6,000rpm – “a necessity to hit emissions regulations” Fedeli tells us with a sigh.
A drive mode dial in the middle of the car flicks between D, N and A modes – Dynamic, Normal and All Weather – but again, forays into D will be the exception rather than the rule. Especially since the dial no longer stays where you left it when turning the car off post-facelift. Booo. Though it must be said that D is a properly calibrated sports mode and not one that – like in some rivals – clings noisily onto low gears for no good reason. It’s also the only mode where the responsibility for manual upshifts are left solely with the driver.
As for the handling... keep your enthusiasm at 80 per cent and the Stelvio generally does a passable impression of the Giulia, albeit from a higher perch. In tighter stuff the imitation thins, physics takes over and you do start to roll around a bit more. Its extra heft and height over a sports saloon is revealed with only moderate enthusiasm from the driver.
It drives very neatly for an SUV, but ‘for an SUV’ remains a relatively low bar for it to hurdle. It’s definitely worth a test drive to make sure you’re okay with its very quick-geared steering, mind, which has definitely taken a leaf out of Ferrari’s book and not necessarily in a good way if you’re buying this as wholly sensible transport.
Oh it fits perfectly in the all-guns-blazing Quadrifoglio, which is truly one of the great performance SUVs. If that’s a thing that at all impresses you. If you like the idea of the Giulia Quadrifoglio sports saloon – and you should, it’s superb – but want the security of 4WD to keep it friendly year-round, then it’s a fine thing. The drive mode dial gets an extra mode – Race – which sharpens everything up and bins all the stability control. Something to be wary of given the power deployment is so rear-biased; this is an altogether wilder thing than an Audi RSQ3 or suchlike. Exactly why we prefer it…
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