The beauty of the first Stelvio Quadrifoglio was that it handled a bit like a hot hatch. The faster you drove it, the smaller the car seemed. Thankfully the new car has lost none of that feeling. The Stelvio is powered by exactly the same, Ferrari-derived V6, a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged unit that produces 510PS (375kW) and 600Nm (443lb ft) routed through an eight-speed ZF gearbox. That means a sprint to 62mph of just 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 178mph. Pretty impressive for a car that weighs about 1.8-tonnes. In fact, the sprint to 62 is faster than that of its lighter brother, the Giulia, and that’s entirely down to the Stelvio’s four-wheel-drive system.
Like the old car the Stelvio spends most of its life totally rear-driven, only bringing the fronts in when they are really needed through Alfa’s Active Torque Vectoring system. You can absolutely feel this when you drive the two cars back-to-back, the Giulia feeling at times like it doesn’t know what to do with all its power, while the Stelvio just gets on with it.
Also returning in the new car is the Alfa Romeo DNA selector, for driving modes. N is standard and D is Dynamic, aka Sport, and they’re really the only two modes you need. The damping in the Stelvio is quite stiff in both, not jarring. There’s very little difference, but the sharper pickup of the engine will make you want to stay in D more often. Above that there is Track mode, which sharpens the throttle response up more and makes the ride back breaking, but it also opens the sports exhaust at all times, so there’s swings and roundabouts. Unless you are on a track there’s really no need to ever kick it up to the top mode, but we’d love it if you could keep that sports exhaust open at in D somehow.
When you do get going, the only real sign that the Stelvio is anything other than a sports saloon is a touch of extra roll. You do notice from time to time that you’re perhaps hunched over to the side more than you might be, but that’s why the damping is stiffer. The Stelvio does ooze confidence through the corners, and you can really mash the throttle through mid corner without worrying about unsettling the car too much, as the fronts will come to the rescue at any sign of trouble. Braking is another area where you feel the weight, with the nose diving forward as the big Alfa tries to control the mass, but the stoppers on the Stelvio are powerful so it’s never an actual worry. The main problem is that the Stelvio’s hazard indicators come on at the slightest sign of heavy braking, making even the gentlest of country drives seem yobbish from the outside. The Stelvio’s standard iron brakes can be swapped out for carbon ceramics, saving 17kg, but as is so often the case, there’s no need.