2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Review: Earns all its leaves
Company policy, albeit a generous one, requires you to get an SUV for a company car. Annoyed, you look for the least SUV-like SUV you can find. There’s a solution: An Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Not just the pleasant 2.0-liter, 280-horsepower four-cylinder version, but the moderately absurd Quadrifoglio all-wheel-drive model, with the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 505 horsepower, though it feels like more, and an advertised top speed of 176 mph.
Yeah, that’ll show the boss. One upside for him: The time you take driving customers to lunch and back should be substantially reduced.
Is he still not impressed? “It has a carbon-fiber driveshaft,” you tell him.
“Oh,” he replies. “What’s the status of the Johnson account?” he says, desperate to change the subject.
This $93,615 Stelvio Quadrigoflio is a kitten around town, a tiger when you crank the console dial up to “race:” The active suspension hunkers down, the eight-speed automatic transmission takes a different set, and the exhaust note suddenly reflects what the engine actually is: Essentially a V-6 Ferrari, as some of Ferrari’s top engine designers styled it after a Ferrari V-8, minus two cylinders.
(By the way, “Quadrifoglio” is Italian for four-leaf clover, and there’s a clover badge on each front fender of this Alfa, a good-luck tradition for the marque’s race and high-performance vehicles.)
That race mode is just what it says: The ride is brutal and loud and twitchy, and it’s best considered a demonstration mode for your horsepower-hungry friends.
The Stelvio has always been a pretty wonderful SUV, but what most customers wanted was a modern-feeling Alfa Romeo with no “check engine” lights, no electronic glitches, no clunks, no rattles, no slightly-off interior or exterior trim pieces. That was not necessarily the case with the Alfas that migrated to the U.S. in 2016 or so. Since then, quality control has improved considerably in the Cassino, Italy plant where the Stelvio is screwed together.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio has plenty of (optional) safety features, including lane keep assist, active blind-spot assist, intelligent speed assist and traffic-sign recognition. Cruise control is active with full stop. There’s front and rear park assist sensors. The 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is a good one, with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. Front and rear seats are heated, as is the steering wheel. There are huge aluminum paddle shifters mounted on the steering column.
Specs: 2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD
• Price: $85,675/$93,615 (base/as tested)
• Powertrain: 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6; eight-speed automatic
• Horsepower: 505 @ 6500 rpm
• Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
• Layout: All-wheel-drive, four door, five-passenger SUV
• Weight: 4313 lbs.
• EPA-rated fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 overall
• Competition: Porsche Macan Turbo, BMW X3M, Audi SQ5
And while the basic interior hasn’t changed much, I wasn’t able to find much to complain about, unlike some of our auto journalist colleagues at other publications. Yes, the very firm, racing-style seats are not your typical SUV chairs, but I loved them and their wrap-around adjustable side bolsters. And the carbon-fiber trim and the leather upholstery, as well as the flat-bottomed steering wheel, looked right. I’m largely reduced to nit-picking, such as the on-off and volume control knob that sticks up from the console: Flimsy, and kept getting hit most every time I’d try to stick a bottle of water into the cupholder. Also, the touch screen is on the small side and very horizontal.
That’s the view from the black perforated leather front seats: Things aren’t quite as rosy in the rear. Head room is plentiful, even under the dual-pane sunroof, and leg room is adequate, but just barely, for six-foot passengers. If you try to stick someone in the middle of the rear seat, be aware there’s no foot room atop the driveshaft tunnel, and elbow room is very tight. Yes, this is an SUV, but there’s more rear-seat room in most sedans. The same with the room out back, a modest 18.5 cubic feet, beneath a (hands-free) power hatch. Some sedans have that much trunk space.
The quick-witted handling was absolutely flat – weight balance is 50/50 front and rear, and when the front end does give up in a corner, it does so under duress, but gently. Steering is spot on, with the appropriate amount of feedback. The front disc brakes are Brembos, although they have the Alfa Romeo logo on the calipers. They are sure and strong, but pedal feel is a little touchy.
Outside, the handsome, compact lines are complimented by the five-circle gloss black wheels, holding meaty summer Pirelli P-Zero tires: 225/40R21s up front, and 285/35R21s out back. The tires are quiet and work extremely well, even on damp pavement. The four big exhaust tips don’t hurt the performance image.
Even the engine bay has a symmetrical means-business look, rare in this era of huge, anonymous black plastic covers. Also helpful: The $2200 Montreal Green tri-coat paint, which unfortunately doesn’t snap in photos the way it does in person. It got lots of comments, all but one positive. (“Too green,” the kid said.)
2023 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD
Highs: Lovely styling, nicely balanced, happy enough to participate in rush-hour traffic. Killer Ferrari-inspired engine with appropriate wide-open vocals.
Lows: Some mild Italian quirks, rather pricey, not that roomy.
Takeaway: The SUV for those who would rather own a sports car.