Goodwood Test: 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Review
Alfa Romeo has given us a two-for-one deal of new cars recently, as both the Giulia Quadrifoglio and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio have been given mid-life makeovers. The changes are largely minor, as the monstrous, 510PS powertrains are exactly the same as they were before, with a handful of tech and cosmetic updates to keep the two Italian siblings fresh. As Alfa has promised this little tweaks have improved the ownership experience, we felt a great sense of duty to conduct an in-depth assessment of these modifications on behalf of potential future owners. It had nothing to do with enjoying one of the most exciting turbocharged engines around once again. Honest.
- All-wheel-drive means all-weather performance
- Engine is fantastic
- Tech updates make it a more enjoyable daily driver
We don't like
- Heavier than the Giulia by 306kg
- Marginally less exciting than the Giulia
- Gearbox delivers odd surges of torque with some gear changes
Automotive facelifts are rarely dramatic, and the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s, like the Giulia’s, is particularly subtle. The ‘V’ on the Stelvio’s nose? That’s now black rather than silver, and the badges at the rear are now black too. The rear lights, meanwhile, are now LED units and have a dark tint to the lenses. There are eight new colours available, including some ‘classic’ shades like ‘Montreal Green’, but that’s pretty much it. Happily, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is one of the most handsome SUVs around. It looks as though Alfa’s designers have been given the opportunity to use a pen and their hand to draw some of its curves, rather than just a ruler – there’s a refreshing lack of sharp edges.
Performance and Handling
The engine is the same, the gearbox is the same, the brakes are the same and the suspension is, mostly, the same, with some tiny tweaks that’ll stop the tread of the tyres scrubbing and juddering quite as much if you’ve got a lot of lock on the steering and are manoeuvring into a parking space. That means a 510PS (375kW), 600Nm (400lb ft), twin-turbocharged V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic, 360mm and 350mm brake discs front and rear respectively, and double-wishbones up front and a multi-link setup at the rear.
The result is the same driving experience, which I can tell you is not a disappointment in the slightest. The Stelvio weighs 306kg more than the Giulia, which in turn means there’s more pitch under braking, so the car generally feels like a slightly weightier beast. But there are few fast SUVs that hide their mass so well. An SUV shouldn’t be able to sprint to 62mph in 3.8 seconds, or, if you’re bored of owning a driving licence, do 176mph flat out. Because the steering is so fast, it further convinces your head that actually the Stelvio isn’t as big as you think. You’ll quickly find yourself flying through corners at frankly silly speeds, and the Stelvio will just lap it up and encourage you to keep going.
In some respects it’s a more approachable machine with a deeper desire to goad you on than the Giulia, too. There are four drive modes, Advanced Efficient, Natural, Dynamic and Race, and it’s that final mode that’ll turn all of the traction and stability systems off entirely. Although Alfa says the Stelvio is rear-wheel-drive until the rear tyres are calling for help from the fronts (you can encourage a snap of oversteer in the wet if you really want to), the four-wheel-drive system is so fast and so efficient at moving the power around that, even with everything off, you aren’t always having to think about the rear is going to let go. You can enjoy the engine and the gearbox without having to be quite as cautious.
That engine? It remains a scintillating thing. SUVs feel as if they are somehow more sensible devices, perhaps because they’re what many people chose to carry around their children and pets around in. That’s easy to do in the Stelvio, to play the sensible, responsible adult – perhaps it’s even easier to do in the Stelvio than in the Giulia. And then every now and then you’ll wake up the engine and hear a noise not too dissimilar from a firework emerge from the four exhausts. It’s hard not to giggle when that happens.
The only real dynamic pitfall can be found in the gearbox, which is very good but sometimes gives you an odd, small surge of torque if you’re changing up a gear manually with, let’s say, half throttle.
If the exterior updates were minor then those to the interior are certainly more noticeable. The interior colours and materials have been tweaked, the centre console redesigned, there’s wireless phone charging and a different steering wheel design. You can still opt for the £3,250 carbon-fibre backed Recaro seats, but in addition you can have green or red seatbelts for another £350.
Technology and Features
It’s the infotainment system that’s been given a massive overhaul, though, and is probably the feature that will most improve the ownership experience. The 8.8-inch central screen is now a touchscreen, first of all, which means you don’t have to use the wheel on the centre console to put an address into the navigation system letter by letter, for example. It’s also widget based, so you can scroll left and right, up and down, though various screens and menu levels. It’s just better. What’s more, there are new features, like ‘Performance Pages’, where you can see the torque distribution and even measure your 0-62mph, 0-100mph and standing quarter mile times, amongst other things. The 7.0-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster has also been updated and also displays more information.
There are new services available too, like ‘My Wi-Fi’ which offers, you guessed it, wi-fi, and ‘My Remote’, which allows you to operate some of the car’s functions remotely, like set the navigation or find your car on a map. A new Advanced Driver Assistance Pack Plus also brings with it lane keep assist, blind spot assist, traffic sign recognition, and driver attention assist which will alert you when you’re getting a little tired and should probably stop driving for a nap or a coffee.
Everything about the Stelvio Quadrifoglio that was fun beforehand is still there and the infotainment tweaks have genuinely made it a better daily driver. Proof that a facelift need not be an overhaul, just an opportunity to put right what didn’t work beforehand. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is still personally more appealing, but the Stelvio is mighty good fun.
This score is an average based on aggregated reviews from trusted and verified sources.
|Engine||2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6|
|Power||580PS (375kW) @ 6,500rpm|
|Torque||600Nm (443lb ft) @ 2,500rpm|
|Transmission||Eight-speed double-clutch, all-wheel-drive|
Reviewed by Seán Ward