November 19, 2018 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photo by by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD

The Holy Grail of SUV’s

Eureka! I finally found it! Well for me anyway. Every car buyer is naturally unique but somehow, we all seem to get grouped and labeled into defined collections to help simplify the process of choice. Whether a result of natural selection or conditioning, the answer lies somehow within. The most frequently asked question I get from readers and media colleagues is “what is my favorite car?” My default answer is always “I don’t have a favorite.” How can I possibly choose only one? Each vehicle serves its owner depending on variable parameters, which are essentially a hierarchy of needs combined with financial capacity and knowledge. Perhaps I finally let my guard down, but I do have a definitive answer for one shining moment in time: The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio!

It is certainly not perfect. The cabin had a few fitment creaks and rattles, I wish the gear knob was better built with more substantial materials, there are still some lingering cheap plastics, the ride can still get choppy even at its softest setting, and the 8.8-inch center screen infotainment graphic interface could have been much crisper and better looking. Small stuff. But these items normally would affect my reviews nonetheless. Yet, the Cassino, Italy-built Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio fulfills me. It is the very first vehicle, not just as a high-performance sport utility crossover, that has ticked the most boxes on my wish list. There is no single outstanding point;instead,it’s precisely the unique, cumulative balance of packaging and engineering that made me fall in absolute love with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

As a quick refresher, the Stelvio is Alfa Romeo’s very first SUV built on the success and Giorgio architecture of the Giulia sedan. Much like the BMW X3 was originally built on the 3-series sedan. It possibly has the most rigid and lightest platform in its segment that uses generous amounts of aluminum throughout the vehicle from the frames, suspension, brakes, tailgate, fenders and doors, to the front shock towers. The Stelvio gets its iconic name from one of the greatest roads on the planet, the Stelvio Pass (Passo dello Stelvio), with a peak elevation of 9,045 feet, which is found in the province of Bolzano in Northern Italy near the Austrian border. It famously has hundreds of turns on the three sides: Bormio, Trafoi and Sta Maria.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has AWD,not like the Giulia QF sedan,and weighs close to 500 pounds more with comparable equipment, yet it is only one-tenth of a second less quick from 0-100 km/h with 22 km/h less top speed. It stands 8.7 inches taller with wider front and rear tracks. But you have all-weather driver confidence, better visibility, and more cabin capacity. It shifts its aluminum paddleshifts exactly like its sedan brother at less than 100 milliseconds. And its gloriously ferocious heart built by Ferrari (the engine is closely related to the F154 V8 engine used on the 488 GTB/Pista, GTC4 Lusso, and Portofino) is the same as the unit in the sedan as well. As a matter of perspective, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio produces more power with its modern 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, and is quicker on the open road than both the legendary and much coveted Ferrari F40 and 288 GTO powered by maniacal 2.9-liter twin-turbo V8s! Has that fact sunk in? Picture being in a 5-seater all-wheel-drive crossover that actually has a big 538-liter trunk with a Ferrari-built engine supported with modern comforts, safety, and technology;I hope you are seeing why I am so in love.

The DNA Driving modes have 4-settings: the Race mode disables the nanny systems and gives the Stelvio its loudest exhaust vocals to accompany the most aggressive programming for throttle, steering and suspension response; Dynamic is simply a more vibrant version of the default Natural setting; and the Advanced Efficiency setting activates cylinder-deactivation for maximum fuel efficiency combined with the standard ignition start-stop and significantly reduced overall dynamic performance. When you are not fidgeting with the driver controls and are drivingconservatively,you get to enjoy the outstanding aural sensations of the 900-watt 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium infotainment audio system.

The distinctively seducing Italian characteristics are abundant throughout the car, from the interior textures, overall design, behavior, cacophony, to its outright uncompromising athleticism. The intoxicating exhaust note is every present even at its most inoffensive setting. Also carried over from the Giulia QF sedan is the carbon-fiber driveshaft. The Stelvio QF is a genuine SUV, but it is a soft-roader. It is not intended to seek new trails in the deep bush or rocky mountain paths but at its most aggressive still be able to effectively find a forgiving route to the beach. The rear wheels, which are also supported by a mechanical limited-slip differential that further optimizes traction, are driven most of the time until the computer senses the need to adjust torque to as much as 60% to the front axle to maintain your intended direction. It also has active torque vectoring as well. Our Trofeo White Tri-Coat test unit did not come with the larger optional carbon ceramic brakes which look and perform at a naturally higher level but it would have also cost an additional $8,000.00 and it wouldn’t have significantly improved the driving experience on the road either. The standard aluminum-block Brembo® 6-piston front calipers on 14.2-inch cross-drilled and vented front discs and 4-piston calipers on 13.8-inch cross-drilled and vented rear brakes worked mostly flawlessly but it could get a touch too grabby at low speeds.

The distinctively beautiful Alfa Romeo signature-designed mixed alloys wrapped with 255/45R20 101Y front and 285/40R20 104Y rear Pirelli P Zero PZ4 performance tires are tenacious yet mostly compliant. The weight distribution is almost 50/50. The gorgeous carbon-fiber steering wheel has the ignition button like a Ferrari and its surgical communication with the driver is practically telepathic. I know I’m gushing, but the Stelvio QF is really just so incredible and so complete. It handles like a focused sports car, has all the usual premium equipment found in luxury sedans, you have the everyday versatility of an SUV, it has standoutaesthetics, and it has all the dynamic performance to challenge supercars all at aprice that undercuts a similarly equipped current BMW M5 by over $40,000.00!

Specifications

Engine

Engine V6
Displacement 2891 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 24V
Fuel Injector Intercooled Direct Injection Twin-Turbo, VVT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 505 bhp @ 6500 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 443 lb-ft @ 2500-5500 rpm
Transmission 8-Speed AT

Performance

Top Speed 282 km/h (176 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 3.6 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 17 mpg City / 23 mpg Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 85,890.00
What's Great Most blistering premium SUV on earth, very full-featured, handsome, tremendously entertaining
What's Not So We wish it was sold officially in the Philippines
C! Editors Rating 10/10
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