Quick Drive: 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD

by   Anthony Fongaro

I’ve been a fan of Alfa Romeo for a long time. When FCA decided to bring back Alfa Romeo to the United States, I was quite happy. Eventually, they brought over the Giulia sedan and debuted the Stelvio SUV. Although both of these are quite similar in almost every aspect, I was able to drive the Stelvio. The thing is, this wasn’t just any Stelvio. No, this Stelvio wore the four-leaf clover, otherwise known as the Quadrifoglio. When an Alfa Romeo is a Quadrifoglio, you’re driving something truly special.

If you’ve ever seen a regular Stelvio, which seems quite rare on the road, you’ll see an SUV clearly designed by Italians. It has the classic Alfa Romeo front end but with the proportions of an SUV. Quadrifoglio models take the beauty of regular models but with much more aggression. This is especially true with the Stelvio. My test car had the Misano Blue Metallic paint ($600)  which is the only other color I would choose for any Alfa other than red. Making the Stelvio Quadrifoglio more aggressive is the Nero Edizione Quadrifoglio package ($850). If it helps, this translates to “black edition four-leaf clover”. This package includes black badging, black mirror caps, black V Scudetto grille, and dark 20” rims.

Interiors of any Stelvio are more about being sporty than being luxurious. You can see that instantly with the analog dials and over-sized aluminum gear-shift paddles. Steering wheels include cruise control settings, adaptive cruise control settings, and music/volume settings. Those gear-shift paddles are lovely, but make using the windshield wipers difficult to use. Quadrifoglio models have a bright red start/stop engine button while the optional carbon fiber steering wheel ($400) also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A 7.0” cluster in-between those analog dials shows a lot of information but it’s controlled by a button on the windshield wiper stalk which feels awkward.


Moving slightly to the right, an 8.8” touchscreen infotainment screen includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation. I would just pair my phone since the navigation is quite dark. This Stelvio also had a dual-pane sunroof ($1,400), heated front and rear-seats ($350), and a wireless charging pad ($350). In terms of charging devices, there is a regular USB and a USB-C for fancy connections. A power liftgate is standard. Safety comes with standard blind-spot monitoring, backup camera, and parking sensors. The Active Driver Assist Package Quadrifoglio ($2,000) adds highway assist, traffic jam assist, lane keep assist, active blind-spot assist, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, and active high-beam assist.

Now all of this is great, but there are two things that supersede everything. Alfa’s DNA and Quadrifoglio’s engines. DNA is different driving modes for Dynamic, Normal, and Advanced Efficiency. Of course, this isn’t enough, so the Quadrifolgio has a race mode. In an SUV! If you’re surprised by that, get ready for the engine. This has a Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with a massive 505-horsepower and 443 lb-ft. Combined with AWD and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio goes from 0-60 MPH in less than 3.5 seconds. Even with the styling upgrades, most people wouldn’t know that this compact SUV has more power and is quicker than most vehicles on the road.


Before we go to the performance aspect of the Stelvio, we will look at “normal driving”. The shifts from the automatic in either manual or automatic mode are quite smooth, as is the suspension. Since the Stelvio uses physical dials for its climate control, they’re easy to use. Although the infotainment screen has a swivel wheel to go through the menus, I used the touchscreen the entire time and had a small display in front of me to MPH. The Stelvio Quadifoglio doesn’t like to drive slow but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

No, it just means that the Quadrifolgio wants to go fast and dear lord is it fast. Put it in Dynamic, slack off the suspension, and put the transmission to manual mode. It’ll tell you when to shift for efficiency but shifting up at as little as 3,000 RPM will result in getting to speed limit quickly. It’s funny to me that an SUV has a Race mode and I never used it. Keeping the Stelvio in Dynamic and using the beautiful oversized paddle shifters was enough for me to have a lot of fun.

Although the driving experience can only be said as epic, the brakes took a lot of getting used to. That’s because this Stelvio Quadrifoglio had the Brembo Ultra-High-Performance Carbon Ceramic Brakes ($8,000). I will fully admit, this was the first time I’ve ever used carbon-ceramic brakes and I wasn’t prepared for the stopping power. I also wasn’t ready for just how powerful the 2.9-liter engine is. If you don’t want to go 10-15 MPH over, keep your DNA in Normal and shift at 2,000 RPM. Just remember that at the end of the day, adding performance parts to an SUV doesn’t mean you can’t fight physics. It’s still an SUV and won’t corner like the Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan.


Verdict time! The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifolgio is an amazing SUV. It’s so quick and agile that you have to learn to use the power. The interior feels Italian and added carbon fiber trim makes it even more sporty. In terms of the price, Stelvio Quadrifoglios start at $81,000 with this test-car at around $97,000. The only changes I would make is I would de-select the carbon-ceramic brakes and possibly get it in red, but the blue paint is beautiful enough to keep it. If you absolutely need an SUV with over 500-horsepower, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio should be at the top of your list.

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