Alfa Romeo has announced that it has launched its new high-end performance SUV called the Stelvio Quadrifoglio in Asia at Auto China 2018. The new performance SUV is the first to wear the Quadrifoglio badge and is a benchmark in the SUV market. This is the SUV that Alfa used to crush the class record for fastest lap at the Nürburgring.
The 2018 Stelvio Quadrifoglio is always fast, all the time, regardless of what drive mode you're in. How could it not be, endowed as it is with 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque oozing out of a glorious, 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine? If there's only one take-away from my first impressions of this overpowered crossover, it's this: brace yourself, whether you're driving or just along for the ride.
Alfa Romeo's punchy little Stelvio crossover may have impressed us, but the version we've really been waiting for, the 2018 Stelvio Quadrifoglio, has finally got its price tag. Just as with the Giulia sedan before it, the "Quadrifoglio" badge on this particular luxury SUV means a huge increase in power from a beefy V6 engine.
Alfa Romeo is cooking up a new SUV that will be the largest vehicle the automaker has ever made. The new SUV will be based on the Stelvio SUV architecture and development is said to be well underway at this point. Since the vehicle will be so large and needs to meet strict emission standards, Alfa will use a mild-hybrid setup.
Alfa Romeo isn't a name you associate with SUVs, but the 2018 Stelvio would like to change that. Aggressively targeting the popular - and growing - premium SUV market, it takes a risk on the idea that, for all owners may make aspirational noises about broaching the outdoors, in reality they seldom road beyond asphalt. Accept that, and suddenly all that all-wheel drive traction can be used for something else.
When you're Alfa Romeo, and a decent chunk of your appeal is that you're not the mainstream option, building an SUV like the 2018 Stelvio presents a tricky balance to strike. After all, Alfa drivers may not want a predictable car in their garage, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shareholders want mainstream sales. The Giulia sports sedan may have found favor among passionate drivers, but crossovers and SUVs are where the widest wallets are. Alfa Romeo had a choice, therefore, and the Stelvio is the answer, born of the Giulia but out hunting mutineers from the mainstream.
When is 'more' simply 'too much?' That's the question I found myself asking again and again from behind the wheel of the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, a luxury sport sedan seemingly so intent on occupying extremes that I wouldn’t be surprised if its Italian masters came out with a Vanilla Ice Signature Edition further down the line. Chugging Mountain Dew and challenging horses to straight-line tests of speed from the back of a sport bike might not be in the Quadrifoglio's repertoire, but this sultry turbocharged weapon alternately frustrated or frightened me nearly every time I picked it up, no matter how longingly my eyes caressed its outrageous curves.
I'm fortunate in that I have the opportunity to drive almost every new car that makes it to the market in any given calendar year. With roughly 100 steering wheels passing through my hands over that period of time, you might be surprised to learn that very few cars, trucks, or SUVs make it onto my 'naughty' list - that is to say, automobiles have become so universally competent that it's fairly difficult to buy one that's objectively 'bad' in any meaningful way.
Alfa Romeo may not be the first automaker you associate with an SUV, but the crossover craze waits for no-one and the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is the result. Launched today at the LA Auto Show, the luxury SUV takes the styling of the Giulia sedan and inflates it for the elevated driving position crossover fans lust after. Of course, since this is an Alfa we're talking about, there's a performance option for those with speed in mind.
The 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has a secret. It's not particularly good at keeping it either. You see, this is a car that honestly doesn’t care if you have a problem with its 'lack' of power steering (demanding strength beyond strength when parking), or its ultra-wide door sills (that require you to fold your body like a jackknife to slide behind the wheel), or even its miniscule trunk (truly just a plastic bin tucked behind the motor that's barely big enough to store the fussy fabric roof that you need to snap-and-tug on and off all on your own).
Look out, Germany: storied Italian automaker Alfa Romeo is coming for your 5 Series, E-Class, and A6 with a bigger version of the Giulia sedan. The new car isn't likely to show up until 2018 at the earliest, but it may very well be worth waiting for over the usual midsize luxury options from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.