Friday, 10 July 2020

Powerful tonic that hits the spot

IT was fitting this week that I have been driving an Alfa Romeo that epitomises the excitement and verve that have been the hallmarks of this famous marque for more than a century.

It was timely because this month Alfa Romeo celebrates 110 years of production. The carmaker was founded on June 24, 1910 in Milan.

Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, the carmaker’s design centre, has created a new logo to mark an historic year in its history.

I have been at the wheel of perhaps the fastest and certainly the most stylish SUV (sport utility vehicle) around, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

The Quadrifoglio — four-leaf clover — is the brand used by Alfa Romeo to indicate a high performance model.

This car for me has been the perfect antidote to a plethora of electric cars I have been driving recently.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a big dream of a car with a Ferrari-derived twin-turbo 2.9 V6 petrol engine that produces 503bhp. And it is fast. The official claim is 3.8 seconds to 62mph. At the Nürburging, Germany’s famous motorsports complex, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio recorded a lap of the 12.9-mile Nordschleife in a record seven minutes 51.7 seconds. That’s eight seconds faster than the previous production SUV record.

The car, which is categorised as a luxury vehicle, is more like a super sports car that has morphed into an SUV.

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio was praised at the Performance SUV class at the 4x4 magazine awards 2020. One expert got it right when he said the Stelvio Quadrifoglio was “so much more than just a practical family car”.

It is practical in one sense — bags of interior room, consummately comfortable on long journeys — but it is the sheer power under the bonnet that would make any true motoring enthusiast’s heart sing.

It can make for rugged driving on twisting A-roads but that is only because with so much muscle, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio just wants to perform. And, on fast looping bends despite the driving power on all four wheels, the car sticks like glue.

Up front, the Quadrifoglio has a double wishbone system with semi-virtual steering axis, to optimise “bump filtration” and ensure “quick, precise responses to steering inputs”.

The rear suspension uses a four-and-a-half link Multilink system — patented by Alfa Romeo — for good performance, driving pleasure and comfort.

The Quadrifoglio is also equipped with an Integrated Brake System (IBS). This electromechanical system combines stability control with a traditional servo brake to deliver instantaneous brake response and shorter stopping distances,

On long motorway hauls, the Quadrifoglio purred along effortlessly at speed demonstrating a superior road presence.

The interior of the Quadrifoglio uses materials, including carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara. The centre of the dashboard is dominated by a new 8.8 inch Alfa Connect infotainment system with 3D navigation. It incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to replicate the smartphone environment on the on-board display, for constantly connected, “user-friendly life at the wheel”.

To say I enjoyed my time driving the Stelvio Quadrifoglio would be an understatement. It was an absolute tonic.

It may be that others would find the power at your disposal in this car too much.

They might prefer a quieter life. But then if you drove the Quadrifoglio you might just change your mind.

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