Last year, I reviewed the regular Alfa Romeo Stelvio and was honestly surprised by, well, how honest a vehicle it was. I compared it to a Porsche Macan and other luxury and sporty SUVs. Although I enjoyed it, the only reason why I’d get one over the others is to be different, much like how I feel about its stablemate, the lovely Giulia.
As for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, I would have one in a heartbeat if mostly because it’s so far out there in the world of high-powered SUVs that there’s nothing quite like it. Sure, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S is somewhat of an option but I don’t like it, then there’s the BMW X3M which I do like, but they’re sorted overall and relatively “normal” in comparison.
Like a project car
Here’s an image for you: Given the necessary funds, I would personally modify my standard Stelvio in the exact same spec as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. In other words, the Quadrifoglio is a tuner’s wet dream with emphasis put on more power, noise, handling, with hardcore seats and big brakes. Essentially, the Quadrifoglio feels as though it was built in a buddy’s garage and I so absolutely adore it for this.
Obviously, this is not how the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is assembled. The heart of the beast is a transplanted 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 which puts out a massive 505-horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,500 to 5,500 rpm. Despite being down on torque, cylinders and displacement over the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, both reach 100 km/h in the same 3.8 seconds.
Be prepared for the consequences
The speed and power are explosive, and alarmingly addictive. In Dynamic mode, selected through the DNA mode selector wheel, the Stelvio hates itself and wants nothing more than destroy whatever lies ahead. If not annihilate, then scare off with a severely menacing exhaust note. In this mode, the Stelvio is beyond unruly unless the adjustable dampers are tuned to “normal.”
As such, Normal is the best way to get around but even so, temptation to do bad things is ever-present. So sensitive and alive are the controls that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio that keeping the right foot off the go-pedal is nearly impossible. The 8-speed automatic transmission is just as guilty as the engine as it too wants nothing more than create pops and bangs on up- and downshifts. The entire drivetrain is wired on cocaine – there, I said it.
Unrefined but qualified
Sadly, so too is the chassis. Even in Soft, the Stevio’s ride quality is borderline unacceptable. The main issue, I found, are the Nürburgring lap-time setting Pirelli P Zero tires which are unforgiving. Thankfully, this is an easy fix but even with Michelin tires, with softer sidewalls, for example, I suspect refinement will still be lacking.
The upside to the chassis’ “stiffness” is a Stelvio Quadrifoglio that responds like few other SUVs near or at the limit. The harder I pushed the Alfa, the more it settled into itself and shows its true colours. Steering is direct and instinctive – the assistance is almost invisible which is a truly desirable trait.
Finally, on the mechanical side, the 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, my tester, was delivered with the optional Brembo/Carbon Ceramic brakes. With the more powerful engine in place, the upgraded suspension installed and the unpleasant high-performance tire mounted on the tires, all that remains are top-performing brakes. This Quadrifoglio delivered immense stopping power and wonderful pedal response from its oversized yellow brake callipers.
The money question
Now’s as good a time to bring up pricing. A basic 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio starts at $53,000 but the Quadrifoglio for four-leaf clover logo on the sides doesn’t come cheap. Starting price for the AMG equivalent Quadrifoglio edition of the Stelvio is a surprising $95,000. The list of included bits is mostly concentrated on the mechanicals with a few exceptions such as the incredible leather steering wheel, some carbon-fibre accents and more.
My tester was essentially loaded with all options, starting with the carbon-ceramic brakes ($8,250), amazing Sparco seats ($4,100), Rosso Competizione ($2,500) and tonnes more for a grand total of nearly $118,000. As is, this vehicle is unique and, in my mind, will be one of these rare animals whose prominence is researched after it will be found in a barn in 2058.
For comparison purpose, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S starts at $90,500. The Porsche Macan Turbo, $94,300 and the BMW X3M, $82,700 ($93,000 with 503-hp Competition package).
What you see is Stelvio
Like any good modified car, the Stelvio’s interior is left unchanged, with the exception of the seats and carbon-fibre wheel. This means it still sports the slow-witted 8.8-inch screen and overly simplified controls. For the 2020 model year, FCA has announced they will be revising parts of the cabin so that’s good news.
At a glance, the 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is always as handsome however it is differentiated by its unique 20-inch wheels (optionally black on my tester), quad tailpipes and the logos.
What you feel is Quadrifoglio
Returning the Stelvio Quadrifoglio felt like the end of a brief vacation from all things politically-correct. Like with my beloved Dodge Durango SRT, FCA’s run of counter-tendency vehicles is breath of not-quite-fresh-air and it is a welcomed one.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s silliness and home-baked-like performance are so backwards in 2019-2020 that I love it. It’s a throwback to how the wife and I used to modify our cars, at least in feel and not execution, that it might be my favorite among its restricted segment.