Meet the world’s fastest SUV: The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q
Alfa Romeo’s first-ever SUV takes its name from a famous Alpine pass: the Stelvio.
It’s something that brings a smile to our face as the outline of the Hajar Mountains creeps over the horizon, after an hour driving through long stretches of the UAE desert. It’s on the ascent’s gloriously curvy roads where we’re expecting the Italian brand’s latest launch to start showing its true colours.[
First impressions are good. Well, great, actually. Aesthetically, its sporty, Giulia-inspired looks and rakish cabin makes it feel quintessentially Italian. It’s everything that you want an Alfa Romeo to be. The design has so much character that it is almost a declaration of war on the carefully considered lines of its German counterparts. Its charm seemingly grows more with each passing kilometre sat behind the wheel.
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But this isn’t just any Stelvio. The ruby-red beauty purring underneath us is helped with the addition of a rather important suffix for Alfa: Quadrifoglio.
Literally translating to ‘four-leaf clover’, the lucky green badge is symbol that differentiates the racing arm of the brand from its other production vehicles.
While it may be Alfa Romeo’s first foray into the already overpopulated SUV market, it wouldn’t be Alfa without making a statement. And what a statement that is.
Having recently clocked a time of 7:51.7 for one lap of the famed Nürburgring race course in Germany, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio can now officially boast of being “the fastest SUV in the world”.
With 510 horses at 600Nm of torque, sending it from 0 to 100kph in 3.8 seconds, and a top speed of 283kph, there is plenty to suggest that what we have in our hands is a bonafide Alfa.
While there is nothing truly groundbreaking about the Stelvio’s design, its ethos is more about perfecting the right proportions rather than reinventing the wheel. Compared to Giulia, the appearance seems more compact but less squashed down, while the air intakes on the hood give it a muscular look and feel. From the rear, its curved lines achieve the opposite effect, lightening it and making it less imposing — making it appear smaller than it actually is.
The Stelvio is comfortable, even in the speedy Quadrifoglio version. Inside it is enhanced by a mix of carbon fibre and Alcantara leather with red stitching. On the steering wheel the red power button immediately catches the eye, fuelling that boyhood desire of being a racing driver. The classic layout of the dashboard merges a tachometer with the all-encompassing LCD panel that provides all the additional information.
Climbing up Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the Emirates, the landscape is completely dry. The almost faultless winding asphalt roads makes for near-perfect driving conditions. Facing the first twists and turns, we switch into dynamic mode and immediately appreciate the steering, light but precise. The Stelvio does not break up and nor does it run the risk of rolling, even in the most demanding corners. The calibration of the suspension is really apt, especially considering the car’s weight of 1,830kg.
With its new position atop the SUV speed rankings, it’s no surprise that ‘race’ mode is where the real fun is to be had. The sound of the 2.9-litre V-6 evolves into a scream, and the smile on our face spreads even wider. Stability and traction controls are cast aside with reckless abandon, transforming the Stelvio into the very beast that set the record on the Nürburgring.
On a stretch of road closed to traffic, you can hear her singing like a prima donna, while we dance together like we were on stage at La Scala. It is no longer a question of mere power or speed; it is that feeling of being in the right place at the right time, and that everything else counts for nothing.
We could spend days and nights roaring up and down Jebel Jais, the Arab version of the Stelvio where the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has found a new home.