GRR Garage: Stelvio Quadrifoglio – the unnecessary 500bhp airport shuttle
It’s not often that I manage to squirrel away one of the GRR long termers, but necessity called for the launch of the updated Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio. What better airport chariot than our ‘own’ Stelvio Quadrifoglio?
500-odd horses, carbon-fibre bucket seats and a dedicated Race mode make it an intimidating beast, and climbing aboard on a cold October morning I was tentative. More accustomed to my 40-year-old BMW, I opted for Natural mode off the bat – the default option on the ‘DNA’ dial. Even with the throttle response dialled back, the Stelvio champed at the bit to be let loose on the miles of empty road ahead of me. I couldn’t help but switch to Dynamic and oblige.
The Ferrari-derived 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 growled and the power response immediately became more urgent, as all 600Nm of torque frothed at my disposal. This wolf in sheep’s clothing had suddenly downed its meek façade.
Following a blast up the A3 to blow off the cobwebs, we headed deep into the depths of Surrey – with rush hour approaching Google decided this would be the quickest route to take. Despite its size, the Stelvio was nimble and well grounded (if not quite firm on the old shocks), and took the convoluted country lanes in its stride, with only the slightest of body roll. Everything was going swimmingly until we came upon a box van coming from the other direction. After pulling aside, I attempted to move on but the electronic handbrake had other ideas. Engaging the footbrake and pressing the switch didn’t deactivate it – it was stuck fast and the queue mounting behind me was less than impressed. Eventually, it took turning the car off and back on again – twice – before the handbrake would deactivate. Give me a real lever any day…
Red faced I rushed off, enjoying the creature comforts of the cabin as I approached Farnborough.
Before leaving the office I had been instructed to try race mode at least once, and so the following evening, as I returned from the airport, I put it to the test.
The exhaust valves opened and a gentle touch of the accelerator was enough to launch the Stelvio forward. The spec sheet claims 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds but it feels faster than that – and not far off superbike acceleration.
Climbing through the gearbox like a rat up a drainpipe, the accelerator pedal was barely halfway depressed when I lifted off, for fear of becoming Guildford’s most wanted.
It’s magnificent at speed, without a doubt, but where the Stelvio falls short is at low-speeds. I had been pre-warned about the tyres scrubbing at low speeds, but it still took me by surprise whenever a tight manoeuvre presented itself. Sadly it’s the nature of a large-wheeled, low-profile-tyred beast, but it’s not a particularly nice feeling. Something to work on for the future, Alfa.