Release The Beast
This review is going to be a little bit different. If you want to know what the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is like, then I can direct you to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0 Turbo 280hp Q4 we had in late last year.
So what have I got this time? From the outside, you don’t much to go on. It’s as big and as bold as before and you get an alloy wheel on each corner.
What you notice about these alloys is that they cage the “Monster brake system” with their £595 optional bright yellow brake calipers all round. And you’ll learn to appreciate these bright appliances very quickly on your test drive.
You also get a 4 leaf clover symbol on the front wings as is the historic tradition of Alfa Romeo and these in their big triangular shape let others know that this isn’t any Stelvio. This is the Quadrifoglio. This IS the beast.
From the moment you start up, the 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo exhaust ‘snarles’ at you and the neighbourhood. It lets you know it has been woken. It’s not fully awake because it has things to do first. And that is get warm. And there is a reason why it needs to get warm which is why it won’t let you select ‘RACE’ mode from cold.
So while we wait for the magic to happen, let’s look around the cockpit. For a starting price of £69,510, it’s a bit of a disappointment. One thing Alfa Romeo just can’t get right at the moment is the interiors. Quality and build are good. The tactility of the touchy bits was nice and the controls fall to hand in a logical fashion. Why others don’t fit start-stop buttons on the steering wheel is a puzzler. It feels right.
Sadly the infotainment screen is just too small to be of any use. The speed in which it responds to the central dial in the centre console works well, maps however are just too small to be taken quickly at a visual glance.
Being the Quadrifoglio, there is an abundance of carbon fibre trim. Not to my liking but this is a sports model so I’lll accept it and the £3,250 Sparco carbonshell bucket seats. They are contoured and easily adjustable to suit most shapes.
So here we are and the engine is still cold. So we set off and for a large car on wide 20” diameter alloys, the ride is surprisingly supple. The car is set in NORMAL mode. The SDC (Synaptic Dynamic Control) suspension set to its softest. Thankfully when DYNAMIC is selected, you can opt for the soft ride though you’ll be hard pressed to notice any difference over the ridges in the road.
It behaves a bit more monstrous when in dynamic. Throttle responses are sharper, gears changing further up the rev range. But still the Stelvio is pleasant to drive. Put your foot down, and I’ll grant you, the 600Nm of torque will shove you back a bit in your seat but it’s still nicely balanced and surefooted.
This is where is runs its Jekyll and Hyde. It’ll reward you with rapid progress and communicating steering. It will make you feel great while making you feel a little reserved and at the same time sing to you with a vocal exhaust note. Pushed too hard and the front will let go. When it does, you have to take responsibility for your actions because you will be pushing it hard. The level of adhesion is immense with a 50-50 weight distribution front and back and the Ackerman steering geometry set up isn’t for show.
The wait is over and the engine is hot. Never has “Boiling” been so apt for an engine temperature because now you can select the DNA switch to RACE and then you are screaming like Umberto of Angera was when he slain the human eating serpent that roamed the streets of Milan.
Suddenly you appreciate those yellow brakes on all 4 corners slowing down the fun as the visuals your brain took in catches up with the sound of the engine. And as you come to a stop, you can hear your screams catch up too. 3.8 seconds to 60 is quick and with the grip from all 4 wheels planting the power down, it does take some getting used to. Or not as is the case with myself. You can still hear my screams in various pockets of road as you drive around my village.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio isn’t just about 0-60 times and going fast in a straight line. When set in race mode, it also needs to be able to go around corners. This is where you really learn what the car is all about.
All driver aids are switched off. There is no traction control, you are suddenly going head-to-head in a RuPaul lip-sync so don’t fuck it up! And here is the thing, you find that you can’t. You discover that all of those driver aids have actually held the Stelvio back.
Attack your favourite B road and roundabouts and you can have a lot of fun. The back end, quiet and sedated before, becomes angry and shouty like Mr Hyde. Blip the throttle and drop a cog or 2 in the 8 speed auto gear box and you are rewarded by a rear end that is easy to control as it steps out sideways. Doesn’t always step out enough but you find it rewarding all the same. And all this is set to an even more fruity musical tune from the exhausts.
Admittedly, in a wet, it will light up the rear axle with ferociousness and you start to respect the sheer power this Stelvio has to offer because it’s there, all the time, it never goes away. Never goes away that is until you run out of fuel.
The quoted 24.6 MPG might as well be 2.46. In race mode, it’s a thirsty beast. You can suddenly find yourself in the red side of the fuel gauge. You know what you’ve done, you failed the lip-sync.
The Alfa Romeo’s Strelvio is a good car so the big question is, is it worth the £30,000 more for this engine, for this sheer amount of power and for lining the pockets of Opec? There are nine people in my family, I’ve put a kidney from each member up for sale. They don’t need two but what I need is a Stelvio Quadrifolglio.
Vocal exhaust note
Comfort in all drive modes
Infotainment screen size
Car – Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo Q4
Price – £77,955 (as tested)
MPG – 24.6 mpg (WLTP combined)
Power – 510 bhp
0-62mph – 3.8 seconds
Top Speed – 176 mph
Co2 – 222 (g/km)