2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio First Drive: SUV Excitement

– Austin, Texas

After falling head over heels for the Giulia Quadrifoglio, Alfa Romeo’s scorcher of a sports sedan, it was reasonable to wonder whether I’d be a little less thrilled by the SUV version. After all, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is 10.2 inches taller and weighs 477 pounds more than the four-door sedan on which it’s based. But the good news is that from behind the wheel, not a bit of Quadrifoglio magic has been lost in the transition from sedan to SUV.

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That’s due in part to the fact that, beneath the bodywork, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is almost mechanically identical to the Giulia. One big change is the addition of all-wheel drive, though the system operates as a rear-wheel-drive car the majority of the time, only shuffling power – up to 60 percent of it – to the front wheels if things get slippery. To fit the front differential in the Stelvio’s engine bay, Alfa engineers had to relocate the 2.9-liter V6 engine’s two turbochargers slightly compared to the layout in the Giulia. But power ratings are the same: 505 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque from just 2,500 rpm. An eight-speed automatic provides gear-swapping duties.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Alfa had originally promised that the Stelvio Quadrifoglio would reach 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, but some last-minute tinkering with the software for the traction control and AWD system now has that figure down to a claimed 3.6 secon...