Alfa Stelvio Q stays true to the 'sport' aspect of its title
Brenwin Naidu puts the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q through its paces on one of the world's most dangerous mountain passes
Pretty much any Alfa Romeo review you read is bound to be riddled with clichés. References to passion, pasta, the use of rudimentary Italian and perhaps a peppering of quips about dodgy reliability. When the invitation came to sample the performance version of the Stelvio sport-utility vehicle, I had already prepared to craft such a piece. My mind began to tick over with flowery prose about bravado, beauty and soul. Curse the brain and its predisposition for déjà vu.
Then I noted that we would be evaluating the model in an environment far removed
from the usual notions of the Alfa Romeo habitat. No verdant European hillsides here. Nor would we be navigating cobblestoned streets. Instead, the Stelvio would prove its mettle from the inhospitable heat and dust of the United Arab Emirates. Specifically, the
Jebel Jais mountain pass in the Ras Al Khaimah region of Dubai.
This is a breath-taking piece of road with more hairpins than a hipster's man bun. And a greater potential for danger than if you were to wear an H&M outfit to the next EFF roundtable. It makes the cliffs of Chapman's Peak in the Western Cape look like the distance between your bed and the floor.
Get it right and you'll live to regale others with a magnificent tale of how you conquered one of the finest pieces of road on the petrolhead's bucket list. Of course, such stories get embellished over time. But since our drive was not more than a month ago, you can bet that this account is accurate. More or less. Yes, this steroidal Stelvio tickles all the right receptors.
The Alfisti will have high expectations on seeing that famous green four-leaf clover emblem on the front fenders. The manufacturer axed the "Verde" part of the "Quadrifoglio Verde" title. Actually, they'd prefer it if you just called it the Stelvio Q.
Most of its DNA was derived from the Giulia Quadrifoglio and the character of the performance saloon is evident in the drive. This is a sport-utility vehicle that stays true to the "sport" aspect of its title. The engineers claim a perfect weight distribution.
Most of [the Stelvio Q's] DNA was derived from the Giulia Quadrifoglio and the character of the performance saloon is evident in the drive
Complementing this poise - and ensuring almost foolproof exploitation of performance - is an all-wheel-drive system that shoves 50% of torque to the front axle when the rear wheels start wading out of their depth. You can feel the transfer when you stamp on the power, as the system pulls the Stelvio out onto the other side with resolve. That said, one can provoke theatrics with the car's "Race" driving mode engaged.
That 2891cc, V6, twin-turbocharged engine (375kW and 600Nm) sounds appropriately sonorous. And flatulent, as you pound through each of the eight forward gears via its eight-speed automatic transmission. Alfa Romeo says you can achieve a top speed of 283km/h and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.8 seconds.
So, it performs with all the poise, engagement and spirit-stirring hallmarks expected from an Italian car with a sporting slant. And ardent Alfa Romeo fans will be happy to sign on the dotted line.
Things are good for the brand right now. Last year they announced a return to Formula One and this Stelvio Q also bagged a Nürburgring title. It dethroned the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S as the fastest SUV around the circuit, clocking a time of 7:51.7 seconds.
With all this in mind, the hardcore Alfisti with a bit of spare change may not mind that the Stelvio Q will likely cost a decent amount more than rivals such as the Porsche Macan Turbo. That starts off at around R1,420,000 before options. Consider that the Giulia Quadrifoglio is listed at R1,400,000 - and you can imagine that this Stelvio will demand considerable outlay. Picture-perfect clichés carry a premium.