The ‘20 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Q4 QUADRIFOGLIO is a crossover I could drive every day, anywhere, with wonderful power, great handling and distinctive sound and looks. Looks great next to my Alfa Milano too, blogs Dan Scanlan.
Alfa Romeo makes a crossover. That’s right – a tall mom and pop station wagon. Except, this one has a bit of Ferrari under the bonnet, as you might expect from the folks who employed Enzo himself way back when they began winning Grands Prix and other races. Andiamo – let’s go!
Truth is, I have a soft spot for Alfas since I’ve owned my ‘88 Milano 3.0 Verde sedan since new. And like my classic, this ‘20 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Q4 QUADRIFOGLIO packs an aluminum V-6 – a rev-happy twin-turbo Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter 24-valve DOHC engine with 505 horsepower (175 hp/liter), and 443 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 – 5,500 rpm. The 4,313-pound crossover funnels that power through an 8-speed automatic with manual and paddle shifting, dialed up to your flavor via its DNA selector to alter engine, suspension, steering feel and economy settings.
“Dynamic” was my choice for more aggressive engine response and throttle tip-in, plus exhaust valves open for a meatier rumble at idle, and serious snarl under power. The automatic shifts quick and clean, right in the turbos’ sweet spots. We hit 60 mph in a fast 4.1 seconds. Then we switched to “Race” mode and it took 3.8 seconds to 60 mph, and 8.9 to 100.
There was a hint of rear wheel spin at launch, then hammer-swift shifts (Alfa claims shifts in less than 100 milliseconds), each joined by an exhaust “whoof!” Downshifts on deceleration came quick and smooth, a throttle blip with crackling overrun from quad exhaust. For comparison, the Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan we tested nailed 60 mph in 3.8 seconds in “Race,” and 100-mph in 8.6. A turbocharged 2-liter inline 4 Stelvio Ti we tested with 280-horsepower took 5.4 seconds to 60 mph in “Dynamic.”
Of course, a shopping run can be done in “Natural,” with slightly less energetic throttle response that still saw our 4,100-mile-old crossover attain 60 mph in 4.3 seconds with a nice exhaust snarl. The engine cuts out three cylinders to save fuel as needed. But even in the fuel-saving “Advanced” mode, we only averaged 13-mpg.
The ‘20 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Q4 QUADRIFOGLIO is named for a 12-mile, 48-turn road in the Alps. So to tackle that, it has double wishbone front suspension with semi-virtual steering axis, and an Alfa-link rear axle design with vertical rod, plus active damping and a carbon fiber driveshaft.
In “Natural,” the ride was firm but supple, composed with nicely buffered rebound on bumps. It turned very firm in “Dynamic” and “Race,” still offering a bit of buffering at full rebound as the ride was very tightly controlled, yet not harsh. You can tap in a softer setting in “Dynamic,” and a “Mid Damper Active” setting in “Race” if the road turns bumpy.The Stelvio is very much rear-wheel-drive biased, its torque-split display showing the rear Pirellis doing most of the work as it offered great grip, neutral handling and minimal body roll on curves. As curves got sharper, power was allocated up front as needed so it just cruised through. The Stelvio’s instant G-force display showed .97Gs on “Race” launch as the front Pirellis joined rears for an almost 50/50 split of great traction. On our skidpad in “Race” the G-force meter claimed a lateral 1.05Gs in cornering. Understeer did appear as the Stelvio pushed a bit in the skidpad, but was easy to bring back in line via throttle.
The ‘20 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Q4 QUADRIFOGLIO just doesn’t feel like a crossover, even offering a bit of power oversteer when we pushed in corners in “Race” mode. Steering was very direct, communicating each bend and truly precise and weighted in “Dynamic” and “Race.” Those carbon ceramic discs had a firm and responsive pedal, hauling us down quick and straight from any speed, showing 1.13Gs at full pedal with no fade or nosedive.
Living on the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the Giulia sedan, the Stelvio stands about 10 inches taller with every curve intact, if a bit less aggressive. There’s none of the sedan’s carbon fiber front splitter or fender vents. It begins with an aggressive take on Alfa’s classic triangular “Trilobo” central grille encircled in slits that hearken back to its 1930’s Grand Prix P3 Tipo B’s. Side intakes are functional, their outer edges forming edgy corner splitters. Bi-Xenon headlights glare inside LED swooshes as twin vents accent the hood.
Gently-curved fenders have new body-color flares framing meaty, staggered 21-inch Pirelli P-Zeros on forked 5-spoke silver alloy wheels, black Alfa-badged Brembo brake calipers and cross-drilled carbon ceramic disc brakes easily visible. That 4-leaf clover (Quadrifoglio) on front fenders was first used by driver Ugo Sivocci on his racecar as a good luck charm in the 1929 Targa Florio. It has since designated the most powerful Alfas. There’s a rising side character line with classic Coke bottle waistline squeeze as flared rear fender hips flow into LED taillights. The rear lower fascia goes black mesh, with quad exhaust tips.
The dual-cowl instrument design inside reminds me of Alfa classics like Spiders and Montreals. The padded leather cowl has white and green stitching over a 200-mph speedometer and 8,000-rpm (6,500-rpm redline) tach. A new seven-inch display screen shows instant G-force, upgraded advanced driver-assistance systems, navigation, audio, digital speedometer, compass, fuel economy and other information with a tap of the right stalk-tip button.
A flat-bottom, leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel has carbon fiber in the lower spoke, Alcantara suede at 3 and 9 o’clock and behind, where fingertips go. A red “Start/Stop” button is nestled in between the spokes, with elegantly long alloy paddle shifters.
The leather and Alcantara suede bucket seats’ aggressive side bolsters really grabbed, yet were very comfortable and supportive. There’s 10-way power adjustments and lumbar, three memory presets for the driver and adjustable thigh bolsters for both. Thick, glossy weave carbon fiber wraps around cabin and center console, a delight in the sun. A new leather-wrapped gear shifter joined a redesigned DNA drive mode knob and twist/tap/nudge central controller to access a slightly dated-looking 8.8-inch navigation display.
Like many FCA performance cars, there are vehicle performance pages with all-wheel-drive split, drive modes, oil pressure, turbo boost and torque gauges, and a backup camera. There’s a Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a smartphone inductive charger slot forward of the center armrest. The back seat is higher than the front seats, with good head and legroom for two adults with a/c vents, outboard seat heat and dual USB ports. Rear cargo space is decent at 18.5-cubic-feet with adjustable tie-downs on tracks in the floor. Safety gear includes a high level of semi-automated driving with active cruise control that starts and stops in traffic. The lane keep assist almost drives itself at low speeds, and continuously nudges steering nicely if you stray over a line, plus active blind spot assist, traffic sign recognition and driver attention alert.
A ‘20 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Q4 QUADRIFOGLIO starts at $41,400; our top-tier Quadrifoglio version started at $80,445 with lots standard except: $8,000 Brembo ceramic brakes; $2,000 active driver assist with adaptive cruise and the rest; $600 metallic blue paint and more to add up to $95,960.
Check out Dan Scanlan’s road test video @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib4MLQeZ9Og&feature=youtu.be
For more information about the ‘20 ALFA ROMEO STELVIO: Q4 QUADRIFOGLIO and the full range of enthusiast models, please visit https://www.alfaromeousa.com/
If you are interested in joining an Alfa Romeo club, go to https://www.aroc-usa.org/