Skip advert
Advertisement

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio review – a uniquely thrilling performance SUV

A raft of updates for 2024 maintain the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's appeal. It remains the most exciting of SUVs

Evo rating
Price
from £87,195
  • Fabulous powertrain and agile handling; special skunkworks feel
  • Jarring ride on big wheels; interior lacks polish of rivals

Like its Giulia sister car, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio performance SUV has been given a raft of updates for 2024. The most obvious from the outside is a new set of LED matrix headlights but under the skin there’s also a rear mechanical limited-slip differential to improve on-limit handling. Power has been increased too, to a serious 513bhp peak.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The interior has had a refresh as well, with a new TFT digital instrument panel in front of the driver, and textured real carbonfibre liberally plastered throughout. 

Even if the interior isn’t as smart and polished in feel as some other premium SUV rivals (and the infotainment system now feels dated), the contoured seats, slim-rimmed steering wheel and the sense that you’re driving a car far outside of the ordinary make the Stelvio Quadrifoglio a special place to be. 

The steering is nicely measured but responsive, as is power and torque delivery from the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 likewise. It’s an eye-openingly rapid car when extended, but equally it’s easy and docile to trickle around town. The eight-speed ZF auto transmission is smooth, except in Dynamic mode when shifts thump through rather abruptly. It’s possible to change gear manually via lovely long, metal column-mounted paddles. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Also rather abrupt is the secondary ride quality. Although the Stelvio’s double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension deals with big bumps very adeptly, smaller bumps and imperfect surfaces constantly jar through the structure. You sense this is a function of the large wheels rather than the car’s suspension or structure; and we were testing the car on its standard 20-inch wheels – even larger 21s are an option. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

This is the case even in the softest damper setting; as before, you can ramp through different driving modes and damper settings, more information on which is available in the Ride and Handling tab of this review.

For 2024 the software for the standard-fit adaptive dampers has been updated, partly informed by lessons learned in the special-edition Alfa Giulia GTA.The Stelvio Q remains a genuinely entertaining car to drive on a B-road, more akin to a hot hatch in feel than a hulking SUV. The steering has a direct, pointy feel with a strong self-centring action, and that’s reflected in the Stelvio’s dynamics generally: it’s an agile car, which can change direction keenly and hunkers down under power, eking out traction and summoning a great deal of lateral grip. It feels far more nimble – and more fun – than the vast majority of performance SUVs. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

That agility is enhanced by the new mechanical differential at the rear. We tested the updated Stelvio on a small handling track as well as on the road, and the traction it can summon is borderline violent; the car can actually lift an inside wheel and hop during hard cornering, and hurls itself forwards out of tight corners at an impressive rate of knots. The previous electronic torque-vectoring arrangement for the rear differential could be less predictable on the limit, and prone to overheating during very hard driving, hence the change to the mechanical unit despite its extra cost.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio launched alongside the Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon in 2017. Like the Giulia, it’s built around Alfa’s bespoke ‘Giorgio’ platform with a 513bhp (503bhp before 2024) V6 which derives some of its make-up from an engine made up the road in Maranello.

Like the Giulia, it was developed by something of a skunkworks engineering team, led by Roberto Fedeli, whose CV includes Ferrari’s 599, F12 and 458 Speciale. Whilst a Porsche Macan GTS might be more rounded, and a Jaguar F-Pace SVR more exuberant, the Stelvio remains one of the world’s only truly engaging SUVs, and a car 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 an excellent gearbox
  • Performance and 0-60 time  – Stelvio’s all-wheel-drive system makes it even quicker than the Giulia at 3.8sec to 62mph
  • Ride and handling – Giulia-derived chassis is more agile and entertaining than many 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 strongest asset, but the basics are there, and it does still feel special
  • Design – Odd proportions make it look like a hatchback at a distance, but the Quadrifoglio has real presence up close
  • 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

Prior to 2024, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio cost £78,719. At the time of writing (March 2024), its price has increased to £87,195. The Quadrifoglio is only available in one highly specified form, rather than in a range of trims. The list of standard equipment is extensive, including a valved sports exhaust system, DNA drive mode selector, adaptive dampers, and the aforementioned rear limited-slip differential. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available as an option to replace the standard cast-iron discs, though it’s a far from cheap box to tick.

Sparco carbonfibre-backed bucket seats, which look fabulous and are surprisingly comfortable, are another tasty option.

In terms of rivals, the BMW X3 M is a luxurious and potent car, but doesn’t offer the most inspiring driving experience. 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, and lacks the Alfa’s poise and interaction. As it reaches the end of its life, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR is a more worthy rival, again featuring a V8 engine, this time with even more power at 542bhp. Like the Alfa, it’s one of the more expressive performance SUVs available, and a car that is actually enjoyable to drive.

The Alfa’s most adept rival is the Porsche Macan, particularly in GTS form. With only 434bhp, it’s nothing like as aggressive or entertaining as the Alfa, even if its broad capability impresses. With a few choice options, the Stelvio knocks on the door of the larger Cayenne, which is again less exciting but fights back with a bigger and more premium cabin and superb road manners.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Italy bans Alfa Romeo Milano name, so now it’s Alfa Romeo Junior
Alfa Romeo Junior/Milano
News

Italy bans Alfa Romeo Milano name, so now it’s Alfa Romeo Junior

Just a few days after the Milano's reveal, Alfa Romeo has been forced to change the car’s name entirely
15 Apr 2024
Aston Martin DB12 Volante 2024 review – Britain’s Ferrari beater?
Aston Martin DB12 Volante
Reviews

Aston Martin DB12 Volante 2024 review – Britain’s Ferrari beater?

First drive of the new V8-engined DB12 Volante, the latest model in Lawrence Stroll’s armoury to turn the company around
15 Apr 2024
BMW i4 eDrive35 review: does less equal more?
BMW i4 eDrive35 – front
Reviews

BMW i4 eDrive35 review: does less equal more?

BMW’s cheapest i4 gets a smaller battery, less power and a £50,755 price tag – is it a worthy alternative to a Polestar 2?
12 Apr 2024