Like Liza Minelli’s father, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is Italian. It quite literally wears that fact on its fenders with the four-leaf clover, or Quadrifoglio, from the brand’s racing team. Look beneath the skin for a track-tuned barnstormer with Ferrari-derived engine, adjustable chassis, and the moves of a quick turn through Tuscany. This is a beast you’ll want to savor…then devour.
Brash Italian style announces its intentions with Alfa’s trademark grille, squinty headlamps, snarling vents in the hood, and 20” wheels that require fender extensions to contain them. Red brake calipers with white Alfa Romeo script peak from behind dark five-hole alloy wheels. Black mesh covers air intakes in the facia while large exhausts and rear diffuser finish off the rear. It all looks so sexy in Rosso (red) metallic paint with aggressive ground effects.
Italian style continues inside where stitched leather tops the dash/doors, carbon fiber graces the dash/console, while suede and carbon fiber delight fingers on the steering wheel. The slick infotainment screen blends into the dash like curved Italian glass. It’s easy to find enjoyment in the aluminum paddles while heated front seats, steering wheel, and rear seats ease winter’s chill. Harman Kardon audio, dual pane sunroof, and power hatch make it better. I get this is a performance vehicle, but the rock hard side bolsters on front seats will crush your sides, spleen, heart, lungs, and probably a couple of organs I forgot.
As befitting a world-assaulting superwagon, the Stelvio comes stoked with the latest electronics: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Blutooth for easily connecting devices, though using the console joywheel to control the infotainment screen is too much. Dialing radio stations one digit at a time in direct-tune mode is bizarre. Crash avoidance systems include forward collision warning with auto brake, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection. Adaptive cruise control and parking sensors help drivers too. It’s only missing a lane centering system and head-up display to complete the package.
Nestled between the fenders is a Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that kicks out 505 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. A carbon fiber driveshaft helps spin out that power more easily while meaty Pirelli tires plant it to pavement. Alfa Romeo claims this nasty beast will leap from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds on the way to a 176 mph top speed. Go easy with your big foot to see 17/23-MPG city/highway.
Beyond the prancing powertrain, the Stelvio Quad has the chassis to dance. Crisp steering and torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive let drivers flip through corners with moves further enhanced by Alfa’s DNA system that configures the throttle, transmission, brakes, chassis, and steering for Dynamic (Sport mode, most aggressive settings), Natural (its version of Comfort), and Advanced efficiency (best fuel economy). Those Brembo brakes deploy the parachutes aggressively on initial application, but have a strange fading feeling right before the car comes to rest.
It’s more Italian than Minelli, but it faces competitors from the far sides of the globe. Beyond German competitors like the Mercedes GLC 63 AMG, BMW X3 M, and Audi SQ, it competes against the Range Rover Sport SVR, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, and other Fiat Chrysler brunos: The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and Maserati Levante. The Stelvio starts at just $40,545, but rises to $80,245 for Quadrifoglio editions and a whopping $96,540 as-tested.
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