Taking the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio to the South of France
How did it cope with a 2'000 km road trip?
Not too long ago, Alfa Romeo Switzerland handed me the keys of a Stelvio Quadrifoglio for a week so that I could review it. To spice things up, I decided to drive it down to the South of France to discover new places, but also to see if it were any good on long trips. That last point is not as clear as it may seem, because the Stelvio Q is not your average comfy and family-friendly SUV, it's also a high-performance car equipped with a 2.9 V6 that makes over 500 horsepower. Is the Stelvio Q the perfect family-performance cocktail, or does it have some sort of identity problem? The road trip answered all these questions.
But first things first, let's get back to the car. What exactly is an Stelvio Quadrifoglio? Starting by saying that it is basically a jacked up Giulia is not completely wrong as both cars are based on the same platform. If I were to give an easy definition, I would say that the Stelvio is basically a more practical and usable Giulia. They share the same engines, technologies, gearboxes, and they both come in Quadrofoglio form. Only one battles with the BMW M3, and the other one with the Porsche Macan Turbo. I've driven the engaging Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce and the brutal Giulia Quadrifoglio before. Therefore, I was kind of expecting a mix of both.
Compared to the Stelvio Veloce that I drove a while back, I could immediately tell that this Quadrifoglio was in another league. Visually, the car looks better than ever thanks to the minor facelift it received in 2020. But that's not it, the Stelvio Q is more muscular than the standard car with its carbon fibre details, aero scoops, and large wheels. Alfa Romeo may have introduced the car already five years ago in 2016, but the car still looks amazingly fresh today, and that's maybe because of the simplicity of its design. Also, I couldn't help but fall in love with the beautiful deep red metallic colour of this car. It's called 6C Villa d’Este and is inspired by the iconic car's paint. You could also go with other heritage colours like Montreal Green or the yellow GT Junior Ocra.
You step inside, and again there are not many changes but they are significant. Aside from the new gear lever, additional carbon fibre panels, adjusted cupholders, and new wireless charging pad for smartphones, you get a new 8.8-inch infotainment system and it's still not amazing. It works fine, but it's slow and not very responsive. On the other hand, it gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. When I got into the press car for the first time, I immediately realised that it was equipped with the optional carbon-backed Sparcos. Yes, they look amazing, but I was kind of worried for my back. I don't know if these seats have anything to do with this, but the driving position is surprisingly good. I remember that Veloce's was pretty spot on too, but here it's actually perfect in my sense. I like the proximity to the windshield and the fact that the dashboard is way narrower than in other SUVs of the same class. Once you're seated, you find yourself in front of this beautiful steering wheel with alcantara details and its big red start/stop button that is reminiscent of what Ferrari does. You also get these massive metal gearshift paddles that have such a nice feel, and behind all of this you see the dashboard that is not virtual. These are real dials! Yes, some manufacturers still know how to make those.
I was about to spend several hours in this car, so I made myself comfortable, downloaded some podcasts, and bought some car-interior-friendly snacks. At the moment I pressed on the start button, I was greeted by this beautiful note that came out of the optional Akrapovic exhaust pipes. Yes, it sounds sublime and you get the feeling that you're in a special car. First hundred meters traveled in the car and first mild acceleration. It's already freaking fast, and you can hear a bang at every gear shifts. The trip promises to be very fun indeed.
I spent a couple of hours in the car already, but there were still a long way to go. My spine was still in perfect condition, and the average fuel consumption is about 9.0l/100km, which is not that bad for a car with such power. When I finally reached my destination, I didn't feel tired and my back was fine. Therefore, despite being performance-oriented, the Stelvio Q is surprisingly comfortable, and so were the optional Sparco seats. The rest of my stay was more about chilling and discovering this beautiful area. As you can see on the pictures, I also went a bit off the beaten path to see if the Stelvio can through challenging roads. The Stelvio Q is a mainly a rear-wheel drive car, but can activate the front wheels too when needed. I didn't risk it too much to avoid hitting the carbon fibre panels, but I was amazed to see how much grip the car found on these dirt roads. This is clearly something that Stelvio Q customers will never do, but it's always good to know that it can.
The long weekend was nearly over and it was already time to head back to Switzerland. However, there was still one aspect of the car that I did not explore... it's performance. Not far from where I was, there is this mountain that I wanted to explore. Called the Mont Ventoux, this is an iconic place where one of the toughest stages of the Tour de France happens. It's over 25 km of beautiful twisty roads that go all the way up to the summit, and this day there were barely anyone going up. It's only here that I could really put the Stelvio to the test. I switched to Race mode and started ascending the "Beast of Provence". What I can tell you is that the Alfa Romeo felt completely at home. In spite of its weight of 1.9 tons, the Stelvio handles remarkably well, and I can even tell you that it's fun to drive. I would have wished to have a lower driving position, but the Stelvio Quadrifoglio still surprised me with how dynamic and connected it is. The Giulia would still be my number one choice on this road, but the Stelvio is really not far off. My test and fun was done, and now was really the time to go home.
Did I like the Stelvio Quadrifoglio? I think you kind of sensed it, right? It may be the most fun SUV to drive out there, and I really feel like a big Giulia. You lose a bit the pure performance because of the weight and higher center of gravity, but I wouldn't say that it's slow. It still goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and can reach a top speed of over 280 km/h. And yes, it corners very well. Alfa Romeo has built the perfect all rounder and I would have never thought that it would be this good to drive and live with. The bitter part concerns the price, which starts at CHF 111'990.– (£88'700), but it's a premium high-performance SUV after all. In comparison, a BMW X3 M, which is less powerful is 5K more expensive. Nevertheless, it was fun. Very fun. Now shouldn't Alfa Romeo go a bit further an offer a Stelvio GTA and GTAm?
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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio