2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio quick spin review


The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is a performance crossover that goes head-to-head with models like the Porsche Macan and Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S. It takes the Giulia’s Ferrari-sourced 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 and stuffs it into a slightly more practical package. Crossovers are all the rage, and needs the Stelvio to be a hit if the brand has any hope of success in America.

Performance models like this don’t come cheap, but you get what you pay for. In addition to the performance parts like a torque-vectoring differential, Brembo brakes and 20-inch wheels with Pirelli summer tires, the Quadrifoglio comes standard with features like blind-spot monitoring, a Harman Kardon sound system, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. Options on this car include $2,200 for the Rosso Competizione paint, $1,500 for a drivers assistance package and $100 each for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I’ve been skeptical about the Stelvio. Aside from the famous Scudetto grille, what really makes this an Alfa — a good one, anyway? Eyeing them on the road I’ve been less than impressed. They look like generic crossovers, which is not the vibe Alfa should be giving off.

Enter the Quadrifoglio. The 505-hp twin-turbo V6 makes the Stelvio addicting to drive. The 20-inch wheels with Alfa’s signature five-hole design under the flared fenders propel this thing to style leadership. Factor in the four-leaf clover badges, and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio looks and feels special. Driving it is a riot. The interior feels legitimately athletic, too. The big, thin steering wheel with the start button and paddle shifters integrated in front of the driver do create a cockpit-like setting. Add in the leather, red stitching and carbon fiber, and it’s a cool place to drive.

After an energetic commute to the office, my thinking on the Stelvio had changed. Yes, I like the Quadrifoglio, but I can now see this Italian crossover as a compelling alternative in this segment.

Associate Editor Reese Counts: What a mixed bag. I really wanted to love the Stelvio. I dig fast crossovers like the Mercedes-AMG models and the BMW X5 M, so in theory the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is right up my alley. It packs a 505-horsepower Ferrari-built V6, a ZF eight-speed automatic and some sharp styling. It’s genuinely fun to drive, and not just for a crossover. The engine is potent and sounds fantastic. The Stelvio’s steering might just be the best in any crossover I’ve ever driven (though I’d have to get back in a Porsche Macan to make that call). The suspension is firm, but it keeps body roll in check. That’s about as far as my love goes.

Frankly, I don’t think the Stelvio is very good at being a crossover. It’s cramped, difficult to see out of and not very comfortable. If I’m looking for a performance crossover, I need it to be practical as well as powerful. Otherwise I should have just bought a Giulia. The interior isn’t very good either, with some low-rent materials and some weird fit and finish issues. The infotainment system is frustratingly bad. I wish Alfa could make FCA’s UConnect work in its cars. I want the Stelvio to sell well so they have money to reinvest, but until it gets better, I can’t recommend it.

Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: This car represents what driving is all about. It’s raw, pure and makes you want to hop back in the driver’s seat as soon as you hang the keys up. Bumps and frost heaves are punishing inside the cabin. The intake whistles; the exhaust growls, and the tires sing back at you. I love it all. Alfa wasn’t interested in coddling the driver when it put the Quadrifoglio together, and it reminds you every step of the way.

Floor it from a standstill and you’re swept back into your seat as the engine wails its addicting tune up to 7,500 rpm before cracking off a lightning fast shift, keeping you firmly planted in the tightly bolstered buckets. Power is delivered linearly all the way to redline, even with the gut punch of torque down low. This is an engine I would never tire of. Then again, it has Ferrari DNA throughout, so I’m not surprised.
There are four modes, but you shouldn’t ever take the Stelvio out of either Dynamic or Race mode.

Everything is hair-trigger sensitive in Race. The throttle feels like it’s an old-school by-cable setup as it instantaneously reads my inputs. It’s rather violent and raw in every way — the car wants to be driven hard. Steering and handling wasn’t SUV-like in the least bit, either. Turn-in is quicker and more precise than most cars, and even with our Stelvio’s winter tires, it was able to carry a stupid amount of speed through corners. Throttle-induced oversteer is easily accessible in race mode with stability control completely off as well. The Quadrifoglio is a riot to drive fast.

Don’t worry about the below-average infotainment system. Forget about the crossover stigma. You can go see a chiropractor to fix any pothole-induced musculoskeletal issues that might crop up. This car deserves a spot in your driveway, because it’s going to put a smile on your face every day.

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