Alfa Romeo's head of marketing took us on a guided tour of FCA's newest lust machine.
It's easy to criticize automakers for baiting consumers with crossovers, but the reality is that buyers now demand vehicles with the benefits of both a car and an SUV all wrapped in one sleek package. We've driven good and bad crossovers, but the Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV's styling and its 505 horsepower engine make us think this may be a crossover we can love. To investigate, we sat down with Pieter Hogeveen, Alfa Romeo's Head of Marketing and Communications for North America, and came away with these five bits of information on the Stelvio QV.
1) Alfa Romeo has been gunning for Nurburgring records ever since it got into a lap time war with Porsche. After reclaiming the title for fastest four-door around the Green Hell from the Panamera Turbo by sending in a paddle-shifter equipped Guilia, Alfa Romeo now claims that its Stelvio SUV will become the fastest SUV to lap all 12.9 miles of track. It will do so with a clever all-wheel drive system that uses a torque-vectoring differential to distribute power where it can be used most. Its 2.9-liter twin-turbo developed with help from Ferrari will ensure a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and an adjustable suspension with four drive modes will ensure that it'll topple a few records. Hogeveen summed it up by saying, "It's an SUV for the S curves."
2) When most in-house tuners go build an ultra-fast version of an existing car, they begin with the base model and tune it to perfection. Not so with Alfa Romeo. The automaker takes performance seriously and as such, builds a new model by first constructing the QV version and then de-tuning it to make the lower trim vehicles. As you might guess, this leaves behind major traces of sporting DNA in even the most pedestrian of Alfas. Imagine if BMW built its 3 Series by first designing the M3 and then cutting out performance parts until the sedan was more family friendly. While it may not sound like a big deal given that the end result of the detune is a more comfortable car, it's the little things like these that make Alfa Romeo such an enthusiast's brand.
3) Even though the Stelvio QV is a spacious SUV that can double as a track vehicle, that doesn't mean that it's devoid of some extra special pieces of technology that make it perfect for the city. One feature is Alfa Romeo's Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Stop. Just as it sounds, the system is a radar-based cruise control that, unlike in many other similarly equipped vehicles, can bring the Stelvio to a complete stop if traffic halts in the middle of the freeway. Once the car in front begins to move again, the system then tails that car, accelerating while maintaining a safe distance until it reaches the speed set by the driver. In crowded and traffic-infested cities, a feature like this is a godsend.
4) However much we loved the Stelvio QV, we were skeptical about one improvement touted by FCA. The automaker claims that its G-force factory is lighter than the standard Stelvio, a claim backed up by the fact that the suspension components and carbon ceramic brakes are lighter and the engine is honed from a block of aluminum. Even the seat backs are forged from carbon fiber, but despite the effort, there likely isn't that much weight cut from the QV. Hogeveen was unable to quote exact weight figures, but by our estimates the lack of more concrete weight savings strategies mean that it's unlikely that the Stelvio QV will be more than 100 pounds lighter than the standard Stelvio SUV. We'd love for FCA to prove us wrong.
5) It was months ago when a McLaren 650S landed in our press fleet that we witnessed the magic of placing two calipers on a single rotor. On the McLaren, the second caliper wasn't put in place to help slow down in the corners, it was there to clamp down on the carbon ceramic rotor and serve as a parking brake (since the 650S has no "Park" mode on its transmission). While the Stelvio will feature a park mode on its transmission (because FCA can't afford to build anymore confusing transmissions), it will also utilize two calipers per rear rotor in order to save the expensive carbon ceramics from being used for the pedestrian duty of keeping the car from rolling down a hill.