Comfort, good road holding and performance are the three main criteria I look for in a car after price. And the Stelvio does not disappoint in any of these categories. The cockpit is a designer’s dream: functional and flowing with soft lines, crafted stitching, plenty of Alcantara leather, stylish carbon fibre inserts in the dash and steering wheel, alongside robust aluminium paddles mounted on the steering column (no plastic crap here) and a sexy red start button. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are both wired up, showing all your apps, as well as contact lists for sending and receiving calls and messages.
Visibility ahead and via the side mirrors are good. The only place I felt needed more expansion is out of the rear view mirror. The height of the boot, together with the integrated roof spoiler and shape of the window means there isn’t the rear view you’d like.
But frankly, that’s my only quibble.
For the first time, Alfa has combined the 510hp 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo petrol engine with the innovative Q4 all-wheel-drive system, which makes the car feel safe – we tested in the pouring rain as well as in the dry. In normal conditions, the Q4 system transfers 100% of the torque to the rear axle. As the engineering guys explained to me, when the wheels approach their grip limit, the system transmits up to 50% of the torque to the front axle in real time, by means of an active transfer case.
Scott Krugger, head of Alfa Romeo design in Turin shared his inspiration for the new Stelvio Quadrifoglio: “What was important for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio was creating a beautiful hand-crafted look that complimented the engineering. This car is an Alfa Romeo first and an SUV second – and performs just as an Alfa should – without compromise. And it also performs like an SUV regarding functionality and space. “The look and feel of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio matches the behaviours of the engineering.”
And I agree with him. As Henry Ford said: “When I see an Alfa Romeo I tip my cap. Alfa cars are for drivers.”
“Every environment makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio look different,” Scott tells us. “Since we design with light in mind. From the mountains of St Moritz, the ocean landscapes, to the lochs and fens in Scotland; the car transforms itself and adapts itself to the environment.”
Equally important for the Alfa design team is incorporating aerodynamics in the design. No cheesy spoiler add-ons here. Alfa has created its bespoke Alfa Active Suspension which is simply superb: none of the wallow of some SUVs I could mention. The ride is well-balanced and smooth as we follow the single track road from Monochyle Mhor hotel skirting the side of dreamy Loch Tay up to Ben Lawers Dam, and heading back in a loop via the Bridge of Balgie and Fortinghall, as we drive alongside the loch past Killin along the A85 and back to base camp at the hotel.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s dynamic Q4 all-wheel-drive means all four wheels are actively gripping the road with 50% of the torque being delivered to the front wheels in challenging conditions. This makes a huge difference in grip and stability, especially when negotiating these Highland switchbacks at some speed. I wonder what the sheep make of it as they stare at us nonchalantly… savouring the grass just millimetres away from our front grille.