If you were squeamish of the notion that Alfa Romeo was going to make an SUV, trust us, you were far from alone. After all, what’s a storied Italian performance brand — a brand that spawned greats such as the Type 33 Stradale, 4C and GTV — up to with creating a mall crawler? Pandering to the crossover craze only means an unrecoverable tail-spin is next. Right? Right?!
Much like everything these days… things have been blown way out of proportion. Though, the Alfa faithful have a right to be skeptical. This brand is sacred for reasons that can be only understood upon driving one. And the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to a crossover is that they tend to be insufferable toasters that appeal to those caring only about “lifestyle” factors like brand cachet. Ugh.
However, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio aims to be much more than that. Named after the famed driving road of Stelvio Pass, there’s lots of assurance that this new Alfa won’t just be another face in the SUV crowd. This is thanks to a maximum of 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque in Quadrifoglio guise. This is thanks to a power-dense 2.9L twin-turbo V6 that’s shared with the platform mate of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio – the Alfa Romeo Giulia (Quadrifoglio). With standard Q4 All-Wheel-Drive to claw the pavement, and an 8-speed automatic transmission with “100 millisecond shifts,” the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio will rocket from 0-60 mph in as little as 3.9 seconds, which is class leading, and a top speed of 177 mph. Take that, Porsche Macan.
Some advanced technology features that are unique to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio from lesser models include a four-mode Alfa “DNA” Pro selector with Race mode, torque vectoring differential, Quadrifoglio-tuned adaptive suspension, Quadrifoglio instrument cluster with a 200 mph speedometer, and a cylinder deactivation system (because fuel economy matters in your 177-mph SUV, or something). There are also optional carbon ceramic Brembo brakes, and carbon fiber-shelled Sparco performance seats (in an SUV!) that are the lightest in the segment.
The cockpit features a Formula One-inspired steering wheel and neatly groups the vehicle controls along with the engine start button. Accompanying the steering wheel of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio are available all-aluminum column-mounted paddle shifters and a standard full-color 7-inch thin film transistor (TFT) cluster display straddled by two large white-on-black face analog gauges.
A secondary rotary dial controls the high-resolution 6.5-inch, (8.8-inch wide-screen available) infotainment system with real-time vehicle performance pages and telemetry. Later on, Alfa will implement a 3-D graphic navigation that recognizes handwritten gestures on the top of the rotary pad, allowing the driver to easily interact with the 3-D Navigation system. And, of course, all Alfa Romeo Stelvio models will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio chassis is extensively made of lightweight aluminum. This includes the doors, fenders, front and rear frame assemblies, rear cross-member, and select suspension pieces. As a result, the weight distribution is near 50/50 front-to-rear. Suspension is independent in all four corners, and in the case of the Quadrifoglio, it’s adaptive.
The suspension setup is an Alfa Romeo exclusive double wishbone front suspension with semi-virtual steering axis, for a rapid and accurate steering feel, according to Alfa, which goes on to claim it’s “the most direct steering ratio in the segment.” At the rear, a patented “Alfa-link” rear axle design and vertical rod helps ensure proper engagement and comfort.
With all of this sporty content in mind, it’s safe to say that Alfa Romeo prioritized the emotional Italian performance that the brand is known for with its latest global product. It may even help people re-think what’s possible from an SUV. We can’t wait to drive it.