What might the fastest SUV you can buy be like? According to offer Alfa Romeo, this is it, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Rivals make similar claims but this Italian high performance SUV appears to have the firepower to match its bravado, offering the same Ferrari-derived twin turbo V6 that features in the glorious Giulia Quadrifoglio super sports saloon. This top Stelvio model was lightly revised for the 2020 model year. But its essential character hasn't changed.
This exclusive Stelvio model certainly has the stats to back up its bold performance claims - and these include a Nurburgring Nordschleife SUV lap record of 7 minutes 51.7 seconds. Under the bonnet, as with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, lies a 2.9-litre petrol V6 Biturbo powerplant that's essentially a cut-down version of the 4.0-litre V8 used in Maranello's 488 GTB. It develops a thundering 510bhp, which at the time of this test was an output matched only by the upgraded and much pricier 'S' version of this model's other most obvious rival, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63. This Alfa storms to 62mph in a 3.8s time that identically matches that Merc, this figure only slightly slower than that Ferrari we just mentioned. And should you find yourself a track or a stretch of unrestricted autobahn, it'll keep powering on up to 176mph.
Alfa's thrown all the performance technology it has at this halo model and on this top Stelvio, you get one feature not fitted to UK versions of the Giulia Quadrifoglio - the Italian maker's innovative Q4 all-wheel-drive system. 'Active Torque Vectoring' helps get the power down through the bends, 'Active Suspension' varies the damping and 'Alfa Chassis Domain Control' connects the different systems to deliver the best set-up as the car is being driven. There's also an 'Alfa Active Aero' system that alters the angle of the front splitter to help this model scythe through the air more cleanly, plus the 'DNA' drive modes system gets an extra 'Race' setting for tyre-smoking starts. An 8-speed paddleshift auto transmission is mandatory.
Visual changes to the latest version of this Stelvio Quadrifoglio are slight. A smarter glossy black finish adorns the front trilobe. And as before, piercing bi-xenon headlamps give the car some serious overtaking presence. The taut proportions of the Stelvio work well with the Quadrifoglio embellishment. Enthusiasts will most readily recognise this top version by its unique new 21-inch wheels, this wheel size seen for the first time on a Quadrifoglio. At the rear, there's also a potent lower rear air diffuser and this revised model has gloss black-finished badgework, plus there are smarter LED rear light clusters with dark lenses.
Inside, the cabin is set apart with sports seats upholstered in a leather-and-alcantara combination. The dashboard and the door panels are also wrapped in stitched leather and there are carbon fibre inserts around the fascia, plus you get aluminium kick plates and an ambient lighting set-up for a classy feel after dark. Changes made to this revised model include a revised leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear stick. But the key improvement is the new 8.8-inch centre-dash infotainment display, now a touchscreen. In the rear, there's a lot more headroom than the sleek silhouette previously led you to expect. Out back, there's a 525-litre boot. Pushing forward the rear bench extends the space available to 1,600-litres.
There are other super high performance SUVs at this price point that you could certainly consider as alternatives to this Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the most obvious being the Jaguar F-PACE SVR, the Porsche Macan Turbo and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63S. Each of these alternatives can offer a bit more polish than this Alfa, but in many ways, this Stelvio is a more uncompromising performance car. If that's what you're looking for, then that'll matter.
The Biturbo Ferrari-derived engine is worth the price of admission alone and you get the all-wheel-drive traction that is missing from this model's Giulia Quadrifoglio sports saloon stablemate. The 'Quadrifoglio Verde' four-leaf clover badge that sits over the front wheel arches of this SUV first featured on Ugo Sivocci's Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio, a car with which that driver triumphed in the race of the same name back in 1923. Unlike its rivals, this model feels like it has that kind of heritage. And for that reason, we like it very much.Click here to find out more about our Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio range