► Stelvio QV driven
► Macan Turbo rival?
► Priced from around £75,000 (est)
Is the Alfa Romeo Giulia's 503bhp Quadrifoglio V6 quite so fabulous when saddled with four-wheel drive and another 300kg? We drive the new Stelvio QV SUV to find out.
This is basically a Giulia QF with lifts in its shoes, right?
Pretty much. They're derived from the same platform and both use the same 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 in the same tune. That means 503bhp and 442lb ft of torque. Driving anything less than a supercar? Don't even think about it if one pulls alongside you at the lights.
What's the markup over the Giulia QF for going supersize?
Substantial. UK prices haven't been nailed down yet, but in Europe a Stelvio QF costs €90,000 (the equivalent of £80k), while a Giulia Quadrifoglio costs less than €75,000.
That's an outrage! I'm writing to my MEP! Do I still have an MEP?
To be fair, some of that cost can be accounted for by the Stelvio's four-wheel drive system. The Giulia is rear-drive only.
And Alfa UK's Stelvio pricing in general is more competitive than other European countries' so it might be nearer to £70k than 80k. But either way, it's a small SUV with a big price.
And what makes it think it can get away with that?
Perhaps the fact that at 3.8sec to 62mph the Stelvio wipes the floor with every one of its rivals. For the record, that's a tenth quicker than the slightly lighter, but rear-drive Giulia, and a massive 0.6sec faster than the 70bhp meeker Macan Turbo Performance Pack. The standard non-Perf Pack Macan Turbo gets there in a comparatively 2CV-like 4.8sec.
Yes, it's all nonsense, but this stuff sells cars while also making you laugh out loud when you crack the throttle wide open. The engine sounds a bit dull at low revs, but really finds its voice when the rev needle homes in on 7500rpm. You need the DNA selector in Race to liberate the most noise, but that does mean you have to put up with a droney sound around town.
But surely you can drown that out with some epic tyre squeal?
Yeah, but it'll be the front rubber doing the squealing. Although the four-wheel drive system is very rear-biased, it never manages to kid you that it's rear-wheel drive. In fact, in normal driving, it is fully rear-wheel drive, but a sniff of a decent corner brings the front end into play. Big smokey slides are definitely out, though you might have to stick on a little corrective lock if you're trying (unnaturally) hard.
So it's still fun, but given that we're now seeing companies like BMW and Mercedes fit four-wheel drive systems that can be switched into two-wheel drive (if not on their SUVs), it's a shame Alfa couldn't have done the same, maybe when Race mode was selected.
Also a shame is Alfa's decision to equip the Stelvio with standard Pirelli P Zeros instead of the much grippier P Zero Corsas you can have on the Giulia QF. On some of our test route's deceptively wide, fast, open corners we had to drive quite considerately not to end up with armfuls of squeally understeer; not something you should notice in normal UK use.
On the plus side the handling benefits greatly from a kerb weight that's up to 200kg lighter than rivals'. The body control is excellent and the steering is quick and nicely accurate, though there's a clear ride penalty if you stick with the adaptive damper's stiffer setting.
What's the rest of the package like?
You'll encounter the same pros and cons as the you do in the rest of the Stelvio range and Giulia Quadrifoglio. The interior is spacious, and the dashboard handsome, but the quality of some plastics and the infotainment system feels off the pace. And we were struggling to forgive that at £40,000...
The brakes are a pain, too. Like the Giulia's they're electronically boosted and the feel is inconsistent, though the actual stopping power is excellent.
First thing's first: the Stelvio QF is great fun, but with more driven wheels and a stack more kerbweight it's not as much fun as a Giulia QF. But then buyers looking for an SUV might be more likely to be looking at something like a Macan Turbo S than the Stelvio's saloon cousin.
And that being the case they might well be suckered by that headline 3.8sec 0-62mph figure and Alfa's assertion that the Stelvio can kick the Porsche's backside around any track.
But there's more to buying cars, even fast cars, than that. The Porsche is a strong product in so many areas, not least desirability, and good as the Stelvio is, it probably doesn't have the all-round appeal of the Porsche.
Check out our Alfa Romeo reviews