"For a daily drive, Stelvio QV is reasonably comfy and refined, given the sporty ethos that it carries."
"The power plant is sharp, responsive and rev-hungry!"
"Fastest SUV around the circuit and Alfa Romeo has the records to show-iconic Nürburgring lap in just 7 minutes 51.7 seconds!"
""Race mode" is best left for the track, as you don’t want to mess around at Jebel Jais."
"It’s a brilliant product, customers will love it; but you’ve got to make sure people know about it," said Ershad.
Giulia Quadrifoglio was doing all the talking for Alfa Romeo last year and the auto world was taken by a big ‘wow,’ for the Italians did so much. We at Arab Wheels acknowledged the work with an award in the category: "Best Premium Performance Sedan 2017" and I believe most of us agree rightly so. It’s official that in 2018, Alfa Romeo will return to Formula One. So there’s a lot of optimism around.
Stelvio and Quadrifoglio
Stelvio is Alfa Romeo’s luxury crossover SUV, first revealed at Los Angeles in 2016. Named after Italy’s highest mountain pass, noted for its 48 circuitous switchbacks, Stelvio embodies confidence. While it didn’t raise eyebrows when Alfa took the unexplored territory of SUVs (it’s THE trend now), we want to know the plan. Is this just a one off?? And then we have the Quadrifoglio or let’s just call it the QV (Quadrifoglio Verde). Quadrifoglio essentially means "four-leaf clover" and it’s a good-luck badge that first appeared on Ugo Sivocci’s ‘RL,’ competing in the 1923 Targa Florio. It simply represents Alfa’s sporty pedigree and technology. So when Stelvio and QV get together, there’ll be noise. A crossover with the performance of a super saloon is a special brute and to be honest, I can only think about a few that exist-all Germans. (Specifically, Audi SQ5, Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC63 and Porsche Macan Turbo.)
Stelvio QV at Jebel Jais
For those who are not familiar with Jebel Jais, it’s a mountain in the UAE known to be the highest point of the country (1,934 m above sea level). Like the Stelvio pass, Jebel Jais is a long strip with twists and corners posing the tightest switchbacks to the fastest bolts. Now the ploy is very clear; we are about to experience something SPECIAL. But hey, do you know what’s running the QV? The heart of the set-up? It’s a 2.9-liter V6 bi-turbo petrol engine; and make a note of the figures: 510 horsepower and a maximum torque of 600 Nm. Alfa Romeo boldly claims that Stelvio QV is the "fastest SUV around the circuit," and they have records to show- iconic Nürburgring lap in just 7 minutes 51.7 seconds. That’s really fast.
Zero-to-100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 283 km/h. That’s extremely quick for a high riding 4×4. Ferrari SUV? Close enough. The 2.9-liter V6 bi-turbo is practically Ferrari developed. Alfa Romeo borrowed technology and engineering know-how from the legend on this one. The lightweight aluminum block runs on the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, specifically calibrated to shift gears in just 150 milliseconds in Race mode.
Mechanics and hardware
A lot has been taken straight from Alfa’s Guilia. Stelvio is built on the same platform and uses the same drivetrain and the brilliant engine. Aluminum is used extensively to cut the weight. You can find it on the engine, wheel-arches, suspensions, tailgate, bonnet and doors. Apart from the engine and transmission, Quadrifoglio is about uprated torque-vectoring rear differential, high-performance suspension tuning, robust Alfa Romeo exclusive Integrated Brake System (IBS), and Quadrifoglio wheels. Stelvio is the first Alfa Romeo to get the new Q4 all-wheel drive system. In Normal mode, Stelvio QV is rear-wheel drive and it’s only when the system detects a loss of traction that it will direct up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the front axle in real time through a carbon fiber prop shaft.
The DRIVE that is so DIRECT
It all started with a superb engine, pumping a hell lot of power to the tires, just as it is in the Giulia QV. The power plant is a sharp, responsive and rev-hungry unit that carries out massive straight-line performance. I’d say the real fun begins when the tacho kicks beyond 3,000 rpm and the Stelvio QV goes into beast mode. And the soundtrack is even quite booming, which is unusual for a turbo unit. Left in Auto mode, the gearshifts climb up each ratio with an instant smooth shift and with a lovely crackle. For close calls, the colossal aluminum paddle shifters do the trick quite efficiently. But the best bit is the steering. With an SUV frame, the chassis is so composed and in these conditions (dead corners of Jebel Jais), you better make sure of that part. Steering was so direct and incredibly accurate enough to boast confidence, that I am well aware of the road below and I know exactly when to sway the control wheel.
"Race mode" is best left for the track, as you don’t want to mess around at Jebel Jais. It lets the turbos shoot up big time, opens up the two-mode exhaust, turns off the stability control and offers an aggressive transmission and throttle calibration-all of this with veracious brake and steering settings. The new Alfa DNA Pro selector offers a choice of modes, namely Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficiency and Race. For us, "Dynamic" was the rule of the day. The car will push on in understeer but there’s enough grip to carry the pace along a snaky road-which is no less sports car-like. Intentional or not, there’s this little room to play around in corners even in Dynamic mode, where I can drift the rear wheels and by default the traction kicks in quite powerfully. It’s clever, too, as it can shut down a few cylinders (three) electronically without detection to reduce fuel consumption when cruising above 125 km/h. We noticed some road noise, but that’s when cruising above the 120 km/h mark, which I think is inevitable for a sports car.
There’s enough room up front and the controls are easy to reach and understand. Rear seats are a little too upright and there’s this somewhat confined feel in general. Front seating position is good upright, though the optional ultra-lightweight carbon fiber shelled sports seats stole the show and they offer plenty of lateral support. Two cup holders divide the front seats, and there are three USB charging points. The Alcantara and carbon fiber steering wheel and red decorative stitching set the urban tone. Alfa Connect 3D NAV 8.8-inch is Stelvio’s infotainment system and it can support both Apple and Android users, thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-no puzzle games and very simple, honestly.
Up against rivals and the verdict!
Audi SQ5, Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC63 and Porsche Macan Turbo are the existing rivals in the market. Stelvio QV is jumping into a segment that’s only going to get more crowded very soon with the arrivals of the cooked-up Jaguar F-PACE and the BMW X3. Stelvio QV is lighter than all, thanks to the aluminum application throughout the body and engine. Brace yourself; it is faster than the Porsche Macan Turbo, which I consider to be its nearest match (V6 in consideration). For a daily drive, the car is reasonably comfy and refined, given the sporty ethos that it carries. The rear-biased set-up was a joy to ride and it’s fair to say that Alfa Romeo has an impressive piece of kit today. All said; it is yet to be seen how the brand will get the message across to the masses of this region. It’s a brilliant product, customers should love it; but you’ve got to make sure people know about it.
Pros: Power packed engine, chassis, direct steering, sports sedan feel
Cons: Firm drive, tight rear seats
Rivals: Porsche Macan Turbo, Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC63, Audi SQ5
one word: ATM-All Terrain Missile
2.9L V6 bi-turbo, 503 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 600 Nm @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
8-speed automatic, AWD
0-100 km/h: 3.8 secs, top speed: 283 km/h, fuel consumption: 9 L/100 km
Weight: 1,830 kg