Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

   A quick glance up the local High Street these days is all it takes to tell you that there is currently an abundance of different sized SUVs for sale. From Kamiqs to Kodiaqs, T-Rocs to Touaregs, X1s to X7s, and all those in between, everyone from Aston Martin to Volvo are currently getting in on the act. However, despite what most of their manufacturers claim, few of those Sports Utility Vehicles are actually sporty. Fast they maybe, but agile? Just look at the size of them. Still, SUV’s are certainly where the money is these days…

    There are a few exceptions to every rule of course. And this, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio just might be one of the most exceptional of all.

    Now, if you know your Alfa Romeos, you may well already be familiar with the what Quadrofoglio – or four leaf clover – signifies. If not, allow me to explain.

    It all began in 1923, when Ugo Sivocci won the Targa Florio aboard an Alfa Romeo RL, bearing the symbol of a green four-leaf clover that he painted on a white diamond background. Alas, only a few months later, Sivocci was to die in a tragic accident: the car he was test-driving wasn’t bearing his lucky Quadrifoglio. From that sad day on all of the most sporting or high performance Alfa Romeos have worn the four leaf clover as a mark of respect. It’s an Alfa Romeo tradition that’s become a legend.

     Quite what Sivocci would make of today’s 5 seater, near two-tonne, Stelvio Quadrifoglio is of course an unknown - or its 8 speed automatic gearbox for that matter. It’s also got a four-wheel drive system that sends all of the drive rearwards, or should any slippage be detected redirects up-to 50% of it to front wheels – how very modern! Nevertheless he’d certainly recognise the badges on the front wings.

  He may well approve of some the noises it makes too. That’s because underneath that vented bonnet you’ll find an Alfa Romeo V6 engine. In this case, it’s a 2,891cc twin-turbo petrol that develops, a far from inconsiderable, 510bhp.

   Needless to say, that kind of power makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio somewhat swift – to say the least. 0-62 mph takes just 3.8 seconds, and where the autostrada allows such things, this five-seater family wagon, is said to be capable of 176mph.

   And it’s not just quick in straight line either.

  The steering is surprisingly quick steering and direct. And there’s minimal body-roll thanks to taught suspension and an extensive use of aluminium – it helps lower the centre of gravity.  The end result is an SUV that really can be hustled along, and especially so if you’ve moved the little DNA drive mode selector around to either the Dynamic, or Race, setting. Despite its size the Stelvio Quadrifoglio changes direction aplomb.

    But, and there is a big but…

   In their quest to make the Stelvio Quadrifoglio the fastest thing up an Italian bridleway (Or school-run, perhaps?) Alfa Romeo have lost sight of some of the subtler details.

     The Stelvio’s interior just can’t compete with the quality offered by that of its competition. Alfa Romeo have unfathomably fitted their flagship a woefully outdated sat-nav, variable quality plastics, and switchgear that simply has no place fitted something costing close to £70K.  With options “our” car topped closer to £85K.

    The optional carbon fibre steering wheel and aluminium paddle shifters do at least offer some welcome concession to tactility, but there simply isn’t the feeling of quality in the Quadrifoglio that you’d fine elsewhere. Thick C-pillars make reversing difficult  - thankfully there’s a camera, albeit a grainy one - rear headroom is tight, and should you be tempted by the optional Sparco Carbonshell bucket seats you’ll find yourself sitting much lower (in an SUV?), your side view blocked by the enormous door mirrors, and without either electric adjustment or seat heaters. Bizarre! And especially so when you find out they’re an extra £3,250.

   Sub 25mpg fuel-consumption – and that’s when driven sensibly – quickly becomes tiresome too.

   And yet I can’t help but want to like the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. When all said and done it’s a very fast Alfa Romeo that’s capable of carrying you and all of life’s flotsam and jetsam at the same time. It sounds fantastic. It wears one of the most evocative badges of all time.  And in rosso corsa (racing red, what else?) it looks great too.

     But, it’s the details that let it down. I know people who are currently raving about this car – it’s fantastic they say, brilliant, so entertaining, etc. etc. As for me, I’m not so sure. You really, really, have to love Alfa Romeo before the Stelvio Quadrifoglio makes any sense.



Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo Q4

Engine: 2,891cc, 6Cyl, 24V, Bi-turbo, petrol

Transmission: 8 speed Automatic with manual mode. Four Wheel Drive.

Power:  510 bhp @ 6,500 rpm

Torque:  443 lbft @ 2,500 rpm

0-62MPH: 3.8 Sec

Max Speed: 176 mph

CO2: 222 g/km

MPG: 24.6 (WLTP combined).

Price: from £69,510 otr. (As tested: £85,250)


Many thanks to Thomas at Alfa Romeo’s UK Press office for the loan of the Stelvio



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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