Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: 2018 Motor Trend Best Driver’s Car Contender

We’ve never had a SUV at BDC before, but anyone concerned that this two-box family hauler couldn’t keep up discovered their worries unfounded.

“The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes from a different place, a new place, a higher place. I’ve never done a hot lap so far off the ground. I liked it!” Those were Randy Pobst’s first words after dismounting the Stelvio. Others joined the fun, finishing this sentence: It’s not an SUV, it’s “a two-story supercar,” “a Giulia hatch with a lift,” “a sport wagon in need of an EpiPen.”

Alfa Romeo’s high-rise hot rod earned its invite by winning last month’s comparison test of similarly manic muscle utes. And like the Kia Stinger, this 4,282-pound bruiser defied several predictions of a distant finish largely on the strength of its Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V-6, smart shift calibration, indefatigable brakes, and dynamic-handling-biased all-wheel-drive programming that minimized understeer. Our first-ever BDC ute ranks 83rd among our 119 BDC lap times, 0.01 second behind a 2014 C63 AMG and 0.01 second ahead of a Bentley Continental GT3-R.

The Stelvio raised everybody’s eyebrows on Route 198, as well, demonstrating greater composure than the Audi TT RS over the lumpiest stretches—especially with the shocks set to Soft mode. Its consistently firm brake pedal and linear response inspired great confidence, earning kudos for the programmers of this by-wire artificial feedback system. “Staggering braking power,” Scott Evans said. “I cannot believe how hard this thing stops.” Chris Walton concurred: “Sure-footed, excellent body control, crystal-clear steering, sneaky power, and more effective (though numb) brakes than three-quarters of this field—inspires confidence.” Mark Rechtin wished for “a Stelvio race series so people would watch and say, ‘An SUV can do that?!?'”

Although there was universal agreement that the Stelvio is the Best Driver’s SUV and a true credit to its species, there is still the matter of its avoirdupois, high center of gravity, copious corner-entry understeer, and body roll. Nonetheless, the Stelvio is a trailblazing crossover in a field of supercars.

Denree Smith Author

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