Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio review - verdict, specs and prices
It’s a little rough around the edges, but no other performance SUV provides so much joy and engagement
Is there anything cooler than knowing the car on your driveway was the result of a small, internal skunkworks-like team of designers and engineers working in defiance of a higher power? The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is such a car, launched alongside the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon on a bespoke chassis with a bespoke 503bhp V6 derived from an engine made up the road in Maranello.
While our reservations about an SUV version of an otherwise perfectly practical family saloon are generally justified, the Stelvio is a different case. Yes, it has obvious compromises in terms of weight and its centre of gravity, but the Stelvio Quadrifoglio counters with a driving experience that isn’t a compromised take on the original, but one all of its own.
Like the Giulia, it had a great starting point, with that aforementioned skunkworks engineering team led by Roberto Fedeli, whose CV includes Ferrari’s 599, F12 and 458 Speciale.
Having undergone a subtle refresh in 2021, most of the mechanical hardpoints were left alone. Instead, new bits of interior trim and an update to the digital interfaces aimed to sharpen things right up. Has its appeal diminished? Not a bit of it, as while a Porsche Macan GTS might be more rounded, and a Jaguar F-Pace SVR more exuberant, the Stelvio remains the only truly engaging SUV, and one you’d happily drive just for the fun of it.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical specs – Twin-turbo V6 is a hugely exciting engine, complemented by a fantastic gearbox
- Performance and 0-60 time – Stelvio’s all-wheel-drive system makes it as quick as the Giulia at 3.8sec to 62mph
- Ride and handling – Giulia-derived chassis is more agile and entertaining than those of all of its rivals
- MPG and running costs – That V6’s thirst is not a strong point; expect barely more than 20mpg in normal driving
- Interior and tech – Not the Stelvio’s strong point, but the basics are there, and it does still feel special
- Design – Odd proportions make it look like a hatchback at a distance, but it almost always looks special
- Living with it – evo photographer Aston Parrott spent over six months in a pre-facelift Stelvio Quadrifoglio and loved every minute of it
Prices, specs and rivals
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is only available in one highly specified form at £78,719. Most of the Stelvio’s dynamic features are standard too, including a valved sports exhaust system, Pro-DNA driver mode selector, adaptive dampers, and Alfa’s active torque vectoring rear differential, to name a few. The sole mechanical upgrade option is a set of carbon-ceramic brakes which will set you back £7200, but the standard cast-iron discs do the job just fine away from a track.
With the 2021 update, so came two new tri-coat colour options, with the usual Competitzione Red joined by Lipari Ochre (a deep, heavy metallic gold) and the near-teal Montreal Green from the Giulia GTA. A fabulous new 21-inch telephone dial wheel design is also now available, but it does have a negative effect on the driving experience (more on that later) and is only available in black – are we done with black wheels yet?
Unpredictable manufacturing schedules surrounding factory orders and build slots make specific colour and trim options difficult to pin down, with only the black interior finish available in the UK at the moment. Models fitted with the optional £3250 Sparco carbonfibre-backed bucket seats switch basic silver stitching for the iconic green and white two-tone option. Otherwise, interior options are limited to a panoramic sunroof.
As for its many rivals, the identically powered BMW X3 M has also just been through an update, and is more liberally equipped, but costs a chunkier £86,425. The BMW’s issue isn’t the price point though, rather its quite atrocious combination of a savage ride quality and numb handling. The Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S also hits with a 503bhp punch, this time from AMG’s M177 twin-turbo 4-litre V8, but is even pricier at an astonishing £94,785, and lacks the Alfa’s poise and interaction. The Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a more worthy rival, again featuring a V8 engine, this time with even more power at 542bhp. It’s about right on price and standard equipment too, starting at £78,285.
The Alfa’s most adept rival was the Porsche Macan Turbo, but it’s been put out to pasture alongside the wider Macan’s update, leaving the £66,100 GTS as the most powerful rival. With only 434bhp, it’s nothing like as aggressive or entertaining as the Alfa, even if its broad capability is generally better. With a few choice options, the Stelvio knocks on the door of the larger £90,190 Cayenne GTS, which is once again down on power, but fights back with a bigger and more premium cabin, V8 engine and solid, if not sparkling dynamics.