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We saw it set a special lap time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife recently and now the covers are off Alfa Romeo's high-performance Stelvio Quadrifoglio SUV. Here's the full run-down on this blistering 4x4.
Alfa says the design is themed around 'necessary beauty', as the Quadrifoglio's styling is not just aesthetic but designed to improve the Stelvio's aerodynamics, to the benefit of speed and handling alike. Nevertheless, many of the exterior cues that inform the look of the sublime Giulia Quadrifoglio supersaloon can be seen on the Stelvio QF, such as the big alloys on low-profile tyres, the quad exhaust pipes poking out a beefier rear valance, the subtle side skirts trimming the SUV's lower edges, the black detailing around the glasshouse, the more aggressive front bumper/airdams and, of course, the triangular badge on the front wings which incorporates the green cloverleaf logo. If you like the look of the regular Stelvio SUV, then the QF shouldn't pose any visual problems.
Also borrowing heavily from the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the rapid Stelvio has an interior that sports much in the way of carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara - and those glorious aluminium one-piece paddle shifts, too. The 8.8-inch Alfa Connect infotainment system with 3D navigation makes an appearance, incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. All of the Stelvio's capacious rear legroom and practicality is preserved by the QF version.
Anyway, enough of the fripperies. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio employs exactly the same 2.9-litre, biturbo V6 petrol as the Giulia, delivering 510hp at 6,500rpm and 600Nm from 2,500rpm all the way up to 5,000rpm. This is paired to the specially-calibrated eight-speed automatic transmission but, unlike in the rear-drive Giulia QF, power here goes to all four corners via Alfa's Q4 all-wheel drive system. That means that despite increased bulk (it's 1,830kg) and its taller shape which cuts less efficiently through the air, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is actually more accelerative from 0-100km/h than the Giulia, using its additional traction to clock a 3.8-second sprint - one-tenth quicker than its saloon sibling. Mind, the Stelvio tops out at 283km/h instead of the Giulia's 307km/h, but that still means the hot new Alfa is the quickest SUV of its type.
There's also some stuff about it being fuel economical too, thanks to cylinder deactivation and a 'sailing' function to decouple the gearbox when necessary, as well as the Q4 set-up being able to shunt up to 50 per cent of available torque to the front axle when required, but let's get onto the handling. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is equipped with Alfa's Chassis Domain Control (CDC) and Active Torque Vectoring to split torque across the back axle as standard. CDC adjusts the settings of the Active Suspension, ESC, Q4, the Active Torque Vectoring and the engine through various drive modes. Direct 12:1 steering and the Integrated Brake System (stability control combined with the servo brake) as seen on the Giulia make their way to the Stelvio QF, with carbon-ceramic discs an option.
Just touching on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's mass again, that 1,830kg figure is impressive for this class and it is said to be distributed equally across both axles for perfect weight balance. That leads to a power-to-weight ratio of 279hp-per-tonne, which Alfa claims is a best-in-class stat - as is its specific power of 176hp-per-litre. The Stelvio, like the Giulia, employs a carbon fibre propshaft and loads of aluminium in the engine, suspension, brakes, doors, wheel arches and the bonnet to achieve its trim stature.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio should join the SUV's line-up in the earlier half of 2018. Prices in Ireland are yet to be announced.