2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD
2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (505 hp @ 6500 rpm, 443 lb/ft. @ 2500 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
17 city / 23 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
14.1 city / 10.4 highway / 12.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
22.6 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $81,590 US / $97,695 CAD
As Tested: $94,190 US/ $110,790 CAD
Prices include $1,595 destination charge in the United States and $2,695 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
The exhaust note will suck you in. If you, like most readers of this fine publication, have a healthy appreciation for all things mechanical, you cannot help but be charmed by the baritone rasp of this twin-turbocharged V6.
I know that I was.
Thus, an impromptu road trip to Pittsburgh in the 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio naturally brought me through the Fort Pitt tunnel into the city. Yes, I opened the windows, twisted the drive mode selector to Race, and slapped the paddle shifter down a couple of cogs just to hear that exhaust echo among those tile-lined walls.
Alfa Romeo’s reentry into the North American car market has been a rocky one, with disappointing sales and high-profile reliability issues staining some seriously cool cars. I’m not here to talk about that – Google will return plenty of hits should you be interested, as will (I’m certain) the comment section below. I’m here to talk about the car.
Yeah, I called it a car. Because while the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is indeed 10 inches taller than the Giulia with the same powerplant, it drives so similarly that it’s easy to think of this crossover as a legitimate wagon. Body roll is basically nonexistent, even while driving aggressively. The ride is firm, certainly, but very well controlled – on that road trip to Pittsburgh, I emerged from the cockpit relaxed, ready to drive across another state.
The road noise from the big 20-inch tires was minimal, with the faintest of thumps from expansion joints. Further, the optional ($8,000 US) carbon-ceramic brakes stop from high speed with absolutely no drama – thankfully, as a doe rudely decided to stroll across the two-lane without the right-of-way or signaling her intentions. That’s a phone call to the press fleet I’m glad I didn’t have to make.
Really, I was amazed at how good of a long-haul companion I had in the Stelvio. In a week that found me doing the usual low-speed commute as well as that highway slog, I managed 22.6 mpg – very nearly equaling the EPA highway estimate. No, it’s not a Prius, and premium fuel is required, but considering the incredible performance, this is an impressively livable hotrod.
The four-position driving mode selector on the console changes the character of the car with each click. Clicking to either the D or the Race position, beyond tightening both the suspension and throttle response, opens up the exhaust for more silly sounds. My daughter delighted in full throttle upshifts in Race mode, especially as each shift was accompanied a sound resembling brief but violent flatulence. No, really – she asked me if the car farted.
The styling of the Stelvio is quite attractive, with the signature Alfa Romeo grille dominating the front, backed up with aggressive vents on the hood and subtly flared fenders. I’m delighted that Alfa designers have mostly eschewed the typical SUV affectation of flat black plastic lining the wheels and lower body, though there is a bit along the rocker panels that seems out of place.
Plus, the big black 20-inch alloy wheels are some of the best looking fitted to any new car.
One place the Stelvio doesn’t quite win is from the rear, but it took me a while to figure out why. A chance encounter in traffic summoned a “Aha!” moment, as the Stelvio was lined up next to a prior-generation Hyundai Santa Fe. Other than the quad exhaust tips, there is a strong resemblance between the tails of these two distinctly different crossovers.
The interior is a pleasant place to while away the hours on the interstate, though it doesn’t quite stack up against the German competition in terms of luxury. I’m a bit tired of carbon fiber trim in performance vehicles – in this Stelvio Quadrifoglio, it’s so glossy that even if it is indeed “real,” it looks fake. In particular, the carbon trim on the lower inner rim of the steering wheel is silly. The wheel is already rather busy, with several different materials (Alcantara, leather, rubber on the airbag, and metal on the bottom spoke, beyond the carbon) cluttering up everything. I could do without the start button on the wheel as well, though it’s a callback to Alfa’s association with Ferrari. The huge aluminum shift paddles aft of the steering wheel, however, are welcome, as they are child’s play to tap and grab a lower gear no matter the position of your hands on the wheel.
Seating front and rear is comfortable for long drives, even accounting for the firm suspension. I love the subtle green stitching between the leather and Alcantara bits – it’s a very cool little touch. In my review of the four-cylinder Giulia two years ago, I expressed some reservations about the infotainment. However, as I’ve spent more time in more luxury marques over the years, I’ve found that the system is on par with most of them. It’s reasonably intuitive and I never encountered the recalcitrance to react to input commands that I’d experienced a couple of years ago.
There’s no question that the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is pricey, and with a spotty track record it could be a gamble. But we all need some adventure in our life. There are few better ways to have a serious sporting vehicle with as much utility and, as we’ve pointed out frequently, most vehicles in this price range are leased. Any lease will likely remain within warranty for the term of the note, so it’s not a serious risk. Plus, it gives poors like me a chance to buy a cheap sexy crossover off-lease in a few years. Win-win.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]