by Jared Rosenholtz
How does an automaker show its car was designed for enthusiastic drivers? Name it after a famous European driving road, of course. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a compact SUV in the same class as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti QX50, Mercedes GLC, and Volvo XC60. But the Quadrifoglio version ups the performance tremendously, replacing the 280 horsepower turbo four-cylinder for a 505 horsepower twin-turbo V6, good for a 0-60 mph sprint of just 3.6 seconds.
Quadrifoglio means "four-leaf clover" in Italian, and it represents a sort-of good luck charm for the Alfa Romeo brand. If you see the clover on an Alfa Romeo product, it means you are looking at a high-performance model in line with Audi Sport, BMW M, and Mercedes-AMG. The 2019 Stelvio Quadrifoglio may not have the best interior in the class, nor the best cargo capacity, but it stands as one of the best-driving SUVs on the market.
For 2019, Alfa Romeo has handed the Stelvio range a bunch of updates, but only a limited amount of those are applicable to the range-topping Quadrifoglio Verde badged derivative. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have now been introduced, while heated rear seats are an available extra.
The exterior benefits from the availability of two new packages, the Nero Edizione package and the Exterior Carbon Fiber package. Meanwhile, 2019 sees Alfa Romeo offer the limited edition NRING edition Stelvio Quadrifoglio, with just 55 of the limited edition models arriving in the USA.
As the halo performance derivative in the Stelvio line-up, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio receives a range of styling tweaks to match its aggressive persona. 20-inch alloy wheels are available in two designs housing colored Brembo brake calipers, while bumpers and skirts are QV-specific, and a rear diffuser houses quad tailpipes. The Quadrifoglio Verde (four-leaf clover) badge adorns the front fenders signifying something special. The Nero Edizione package colors the alloy wheels darker, while equipping a Dark Miron finish to the mirror covers, V grille insert, Stelvio badge, and Q4 badge. The NRING limited edition is differentiated by exclusive paint, carbon fiber trim upgrades, and a dual-pane power sunroof.
Riding on the same 111-inch wheelbase as a standard Stelvio, the Quadrifoglio version measures longer by 0.5-inches due to the model-specific bodywork, with the overall length measured at 185.1-inches. It measures wider as well, 77-inches vs. 74.9-inches, due to flared arches to accommodate the broader wheels which see the front and rear track widths reduced to 61.2-inches and 63.3-inches respectively. The Quadrifoglio rides 0.2-inches lower than standard models with a ground clearance of 7.9-inches, this despite measuring 0.3-inches taller overall at 66.3-inches thanks to the roof-mounted spoiler. The Quadrifoglio is substantially heavier than lesser trims, with a curb weight of 4,360 lbs representing an increase of 300 lbs over a standard AWD model.
A total of eight standard hues are available for the 2019 Stelvio Quadrifoglio, matching the offering from last year's model, with the only no-cost option being the signature Alfa Rosso. Vulcano Black Metallic, Vesuvio Gray Metallic, Silverstone Gray Metallic, Montecarlo Blue Metallic, and the Quadrifoglio-exclusive Misano Blue Metallic are all available at a price premium of $600, while for $2,200 the Stelvio Quadrifoglio can be painted in Rosso Competizione or Trofeo White Tri-Coat paints, adding an extra layer of depth to the Quadriglio's beauty. Available exclusively on the NRING edition is Circuito Gray Matte paint at no extra cost.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio represents the top tier of performance for the Stelvio line-up, channeling 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque from a Ferrari-derived bi-turbo V6 through a carbon fiber driveshaft to all four corners of a rear-biased all-wheel drive system, dubbed 'Q4'. The immense performance and all-wheel traction see the Stelvio Quadrifoglio sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds on its way to a 176 mph top speed, managing the sprint marginally quicker than similarly powered AWD rivals like the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S (3.7 seconds) and the BMW X3 M Competition (4.0 seconds). The stellar performance continues when straight roads end, with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio previously setting a Nurburgring lap record for SUVs in a time of 7:51.7. The record was later usurped by the GLC 63 S, but it doesn't make the sub-eight minuted feat any less impressive.
The performance enhancements made to the Quadrifoglio variant come at the expense of typical SUV practicalities such as heavy towing, and as such Alfa Romeo have not yet rated the towing capacity of the Quadrifoglio, despite all-wheel drive and increased outputs over standard models.
Under the hood of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio rests Alfa Romeo's latest twin-turbo V6 engine, measuring 2.9-liters in displacement and taking heavy influence from the turbocharged V8 engine found in the Ferrari Portofino. It generates an impressive 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, making use of an eight-speed automatic gearbox with large steering column-mounted paddle shifters to control power before it meets the asphalt.
Out on the road, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's drivetrain is joyous to behold. At almost any rpm, the eight-speed automatic feels eager to drop down a few gears, allowing the V6 to sing an Italian opera. We never thought a V6 engine could sound as good as a V8 but this SUV's exhaust note is one of the all-time greats.
Playing with the DNA drive mode controller drastically changes the Stelvio's personality. A stands for 'Advanced Efficiency' and morphs the Stelvio into a docile kitten. N is 'Natural Mode,' which puts the 2.9-liter V6 on notice. The Stelvio loves to deliver big gobs of power at once and we found it difficult to command smaller bursts of speed for simple passing maneuvers. Dynamic Mode delivers even more responsiveness from the engine, while Race Mode dials it up to 11 and opens up the baffles in the exhaust. Depending on when you buy your Stelvio, Alfa Romeo changed the drive modes so Dynamic also opens up the loud exhaust mode. Trust us, you want to drive around in loud exhaust mode.
We found ourselves constantly playing with the Stelvio's column-mounted paddle shifters, which wouldn't look out of place in a Ferrari. Pulling one of the paddles delivers a near-instant response from the transmission along with a nice burble from the exhaust in Race Mode.
If driving dynamics are your only criteria for a new SUV, you may just want to pick the Stelvio QV without looking at any other vehicles. We've never felt such precise steering in an SUV, though it can be cumbersome when a crosswind hits on a boring highway commute. It feels like Alfa dialed back some of the steering and throttle responsiveness found in the Giulia sedan but the Stelvio still feels lively.
Even the biggest SUV critics will find themselves laughing when the roads get twisty. Yes, the Stelvio rides higher than the Giulia but it manages itself brilliantly - thank the Giorgio platform for that. When we took the Stelvio out on a narrow Pennsylvania back road, it felt a bit large for the roads but the AWD grip kept us confident that we'd stay on the road. In the most aggressive Race Mode, the suspension tightens up to limit body roll and the traction control is dialed back. Even though this car is AWD, it's not impossible to sense some tire slip when pushing it hard.
There is a downside to the Stelvio's sport driving characteristics, which comes in the form of a harsh ride. This is a seriously stiff SUV, especially when driving in Race Mode. Impacts from torn up road surfaces are delivered straight to the driver's spine and wind noise is high for a luxury vehicle. If most of your driving is a boring highway commute, there are better options than the Stelvio.
Performance seldom arrives without the penalty of poor fuel economy estimates, and the same can be said of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The bi-turbo V6 engine requires premium unleaded gasoline to function correctly and achieves EPA-rated gas mileage estimates of 17/23/19 mpg on the city/highway/combined driving cycles respectively, the figures improved by mechanical cylinder deactivation technology. The estimates are marginally better than the 16/22/18 mpg achieved by the AMG GLC 63 S or the 16/21/18 mpg of the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.
With a 16.9-gallon gas tank, sensible driving should yield a maximum range of approximately 321 miles in mixed driving situations, but liberal use of the throttle will see that estimate drastically decrease.
Based on the Giorgio platform underpinning both the Stelvio and the Giulia, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio seats five occupants, albeit in slightly cramped conditions compared to more practical, German rivals. However, for the Quadrifoglio derivative, the theater of the interior matters more than a marginal lack of practicality, with an abundance of carbon fiber panels, available carbon bucket seats, and standard leather/Alcantara combination upholstery. The dash and center console design have a distinct driver focus, while a steering wheel-mounted start button is more supercar than practical family SUV. Upgrades for 2019 have seen infotainment upgraded to include full smartphone integration, but the material and build quality remains the same as previous years, feeling cheap compared to rivals from Audi and Mercedes-AMG.
If you are looking for the most spacious people-mover in the segment, the Stelvio isn't it. Front occupants are given 40.2 inches of headroom while rear seat occupants have 38.9 inches before hitting the roof. The front seat offers 36.6 inches of legroom while the back provides 31.9 inches. We never felt cramped inside the Stelvio but there are certainly larger SUVs in the segment. During our week with the car, we easily put four adults in the car with no issues while five adults would have felt more intimate.
Alfa Romeo offers three interior color options on the Stelvio QV: black, red and black, and white and black. Buyers can also choose from grey, red, or green stitching. The base seats are a mix of leather and Alcantara with large adjustable bolsters to hold the driver and passenger in place during hard cornering. For $3,500 more, buyers can opt for carbon-backed Sparco racing seats, in which case they do not get heated seats. In our opinion, the racing seats are too harsh for an SUV and the base chairs do an excellent job of holding you in place. Plus, the carbon fiber on the dashboard and center console already feels like more than enough.
Behind the second row of seating in the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, cargo volume measures at 18.5 cubic feet, which is less than the 19.4 cu ft. in the BMW X3 M but more than the 17.6 found in the AMG GLC 63. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, with seat releases mounted in the trunk, to increase cargo volume, resulting in a maximum of 56.5 cubic feet that closely matching rivals. However, the cargo bay is narrow and less practical than rivals, despite the comparable volumes, but it makes up for it with usable liftover height and a low cargo floor. Still, the Quadrifoglio offers up enough cargo space to cater to a week's worth of shopping or enough room for luggage for a modest family holiday.
Interior storage space is more limited, though, with deep, narrow door pockets being the biggest drawcard, while the center console, glovebox, seat pockets, and rear door pockets are all particularly small. The cupholders are small as well and are placed awkwardly in the center console. There are limited storage solutions available, and most only cater to small items rather than large smartphones and other personal items.
As the halo model of the Stelvio range, the Quadrifoglio is extensively equipped, with standard features like 14-way power adjustable heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, reverse camera with cross-traffic detection, adaptive suspension, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, a power tailgate, and auto-dimming rearview mirrors. Meanwhile, options include heated outboard rear seats, new for the 2019 year model, a dual-pane sunroof, hands-free liftgate, and by means of additional packages, the inclusion of adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam control, and lane departure warning as part of the Driver Assist Dynamic package.
Alfa Romeo is the only Fiat Chrysler brand not to use the company's well-regarded Uconnect infotainment system. Instead, Alfa's bespoke system uses a rotating knob to control a high-mounted screen in the dashboard. The system is remarkably easy to figure out but lacks the advanced connectivity features found in competitors.
Both screen sizes, including the standard 6.5-inch and optional 8.8-inch displays, feel small by 2019 standards and are covered by a matte piece of glass, which is full of glare. It is linked to a mediocre at best Harman Kardon sound system, which sounds poor from the rear seats. We also experienced issues where the radio and Bluetooth stopped working on two separate occasions, causing us to reboot the entire car by leaving it parked for an hour or so. Alfa Romeo should consider adopting Uconnect on the next-generation Stelvio.
The Stelvio range generally goes against the stigma of unreliable Alfa Romeos, with very few problems reported by current owners, despite the interior build quality feeling a little cheap. However, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio has only been on the market for a couple of years now, so long-term reliability is yet to be established and those currently on the road are still covered by Alfa's four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and one-year/10,000-mile complimentary first service.
There has been one recall for the current generation Stelvio Quadrifoglio pertaining to more than 670 units from the 2018-2019 model years for a coolant hose manufactured incorrectly that can result in loss of coolant and in turn overheating and stalling of the engine.
We also experienced an issue with the infotainment system where the radio only produces static and the Bluetooth would no longer pair to a phone. This happened twice during our week of testing and could only be resolved by leaving the car off for a prolonged period.
Neither the NHTSA or the IIHS has completed any evaluation of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio or the Stelvio in base format. If Alfa Romeo wishes to cement their place in the hearts and minds of American buyers, they'd do well to have local safety authorities evaluate their products sooner rather than later.
Despite no crash tests having been performed on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, it still comes kitted with extensive safety features. The standard offering includes front and rear park sensors, a reverse camera with cross-traffic detection, blind spot monitoring, and full-speed forward collision warning, as well as a full suite of eight airbags (dual-front; front-side, side curtain, driver and passenger knee). Adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam control, and lane departure warning are all optionally available as part of the Driver Assistance Dynamic Package.
Our recommendation on the Stelvio Quadrifoglio varies greatly depending on what type of SUV you're shopping for. Most SUV shoppers, who value passenger volume, comfort, technology, and cargo space, will likely be disappointed by the Stelvio. If you are looking for a comfortable ride, you really might want to look elsewhere, like the Volvo XC60.
But if you have been forced out of your sports sedan because of a growing family, the Stelvio QV may be just what you are looking for. Few SUVs manage to feel so car-like, as evidenced by the Stelvio's lap record around the Nurburgring (which has since been topped by the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S).
You know what type of buyer you are, so here are our scores for the 2019 Alfa Rome Stelvio Quadrifoglio. If you fall into the classic SUV buyer category, the Stelvio QV is Worth A Look. But if you value driving dynamics above all else, the Stelvio QV is a Must Buy.
Getting behind the wheel of Alfa Romeo's performance SUV is no cheap feat, with the only Quadrifoglio derivative carrying a base MSRP of $79,995 before the addition of a $1,595 destination charge, tax, registration, licensing, and any options you may wish to equip. Those with an eye on the NRING limited edition, one of 55 available, will need to shell out for a base price of $95,890. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio can also be leased over two, three, and four year spans for as little as $1,058 per month with a 10% deposit paid up front.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio exists as a standalone trim at the top of the Stelvio hierarchy, with the NRING edition being brought to the United States in limited numbers as a limited edition variant.
Regardless of whether you buy a standard Quadrifoglio or an NRING model, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 developing 505 horsepower mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system.
The standard Quadrifoglio is equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels, high performance summer tires, a quad exhaust, Brembo front and rear brakes, 14-way power adjustable leather and Alcantara sports seats with heating, a heated sports steering wheel with push-button start, carbon fiber interior trimming, a rearview camera, front and rear park sensors, blind spot monitoring, a power liftgate, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, and dual-zone climate control. Infotainment is by means of an 8.8-inch display with AM/FM/SiriusXM radio, navigation, and a Harman Kardon premium audio system.
Just 55 Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING models will be brought to the US, equipped with model-specific Circuito Gray Matte paint, carbon fiber exterior and interior detailing, red brake calipers, a dual-pane sunroof, carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.
2.9-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
While the Quadrifoglio is a highly equipped halo model of the Stelvio range, further enhancements can be made via standalone options as well as options packages.
In the way of packages, the available Nero Edizione package is a styling upgrade which equips dark 20-inch five-hole alloy wheels, Dark Miron mirror covers, grille insert, and Stelvio and Q4 badges, and is available for $850. The Driver Assistance Dynamic Package is priced at $1,200 and equips adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam assist, an infrared windshield, and lane departure warning, while a $200 Convenience Package adds a 115-volt power outlet in the trunk, trunk cargo rails, and a cargo net.
Standalone options include exterior paints priced between $600 and $2,200, dark alloy wheels at $500, colored brake calipers, available in black, red, or yellow, at $350, heated rear seats at $350, a dual-pane sunroof at $1,350, and a carbon fiber steering wheel for $400. Carbon fiber Sparco bucket seats are also available, carrying a price of $3,500, while if you're after carbon ceramic brakes, expect to pay $8,000 for a set.
Since the Stelvio Quadrifolgio is a niche model for Alfa Romeo, optioning it is fairly easy. The "base" car starts at $79,995 before destination and although we loved the $2,200 Rosso Competizione Tri-Coat paint of our tester, we'd opt for the less expensive Misano Blue Metallic for just $600. We'd skip the carbon ceramic Brembo brakes for $8,000, add the darker wheels for $500, the heated rear seats for $350, the dual-pane sunroof for $1,350, and black roof rails for $250. As we'd option it, the Stelvio QV will run you $84,640.
After the Stelvio Quadrifoglio set a Nurburgring lap record, it took the most potent offering from Mercedes-AMG to dethrone it as the quickest SUV to lap the infamous Green Hell. While the Coupe version of the GLC 63 boasts a 505 horsepower figure to match the Quadrifoglio, it's more practical sibling only generates 469 hp, gleaned from a sonorous 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8. But the AMG generates more torque, 479 lb-ft of the stuff compared to the Alfa's 443 lb-ft. But the Alfa's power surplus and weight deficit ensure it's quicker to 60 mph by 0.2 seconds, and quicker in general. The Alfa is more enjoyable to drive too, a proper driver's car with sharp turn-in and a composed ride, compared to the GLC which is capable but feels its size and weight in corners. Where Mercedes has the Italian beaten, however, is in interior quality, spaciousness, and practicality, with a classier interior design, better build quality, and better ergonomics. Trunk volume is more practical, too. The GLC 63 is also cheaper than the Quadrifoglio, by $9,000 in its base form, while still giving access to the same sort of features. Both are fun, but the Alfa is a supercar in the body of an SUV, and if its a driver's tool you're after it can't be beaten.
Both the Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the F-Pace SVR are left-field alternatives to the German offerings from Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz in the performance SUV stakes, but they go about it in different ways. The F-Pace SVR has the Alfa beaten on power, with 550 horsepower generated from its supercharged 5.0-liter V8, and it sounds better as well, but it can't match the Italian's performance, unable to put power to asphalt as effectively. It's not quite as aloof and lively on the go, either, feeling more planted and composed, but it doesn't handle as sweetly either thanks to the added weight of a large V8 over the front axle. The F-Pace offers a similar specification to the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but the interior feels a little plusher and well put together, even if the ergonomics are somewhat flawed. The two are separated in price by just $5 in base guise, and both are among the keenest of driver's SUVs around, making the choice between the two a tough one. On sheer character, the SVR is the recommended pick, but both with thrill you every time you get behind the wheel.