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Simply stunning. There are no other words to describe the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, with its mighty 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo engine. This is one SUV which is not for the faint hearted.

Clearly this has set the benchmark for this type of vehicle; in fact it is the fastest SUV round the famous Nurburgring with a time of just 7 minutes and 51.7 seconds.

Alas, my opportunity to drive did not come on the German circuit, but much nearer home in the Cotswolds, where I was able to find space to explore the performance potential of this premium model from Alfa Romeo.

I might have known it is equipped with the exclusive aluminum petrol engine, developed with inputs from Ferrari technologies and engineering know-how, which delivers maximum power of 510bhp at 6,500rpm and generates a maximum torque of 600Nm from 2,500 to 5,000rpm.

This powerplant is teamed with the specifically calibrated eight-speed automatic transmission that allows gear shifts in just 150 milliseconds in race driving mode. Anyone who has driven a competition car will know exactly the feeling.

Moreover, to maximise the driving experience, the model is equipped as standard with one-piece aluminum paddle shifters integrated with the steering column. So, yes I got a real racer feel behind the wheel of this SUV, something which you do not expect to get from such a vehicle.

Acceleration is impressive, from stand still to 100kph (62mph) in just 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 283kph (176mph). Clearly to really obtain the full potential then, a racing circuit is the correct environment. However, this sports SUV is also incredibly efficient in terms of emission and fuel consumption, thanks to its electronically controlled cylinder deactivation system and the “sailing” function, available in Advanced Efficiency driving mode.

For the first time, the 510hp 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo petrol engine is combined with the innovative Q4 all-wheel drive system, offering a perfect blend of performance, traction, driving pleasure and safety in all situations.

Also the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is equipped with the exclusive Alfa Chassis Domain Control unit and it is the only SUV in its class to provide differential Alfa Active Torque Vectoring as standard.        Also standard is the innovative Alfa Active Suspension, this continually, actively controls the suspensions and shock absorbers. The end result is impeccable handing and comfort thanks to this layout layout, with the exclusive AlfaLink technology: up front it has a double wishbone system with semi-virtual steering axis, with a four-and-a-half link Multilink system at the rear.

In any situation and at all speeds, driving the Quadrifoglio SUV, with the most direct steering ratio on the market (12.1:1), is natural and instinctive.

Stopping power is paramount and the innovative electromechanical Integrated Brake System which is exclusive to Alfa-Romeo sets the new benchmark in terms of both swift response and stopping distance, on any road surface, and weight reduction compared to a conventional braking system. An option, high-performance carbon-ceramic discs.

Italian design, interpreted with the Italian company’s flair, highlighted by a muscular bonnet with structural vents to allow heat to escape from the engine compartment, sporty side-skirts and flared wheel arches, all body-coloured, and the finishing touch a quad exhaust.

Moving to the interior, sportiness meets Italian elegance with generous use of premium materials: carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara. The centre of the dashboard is dominated by the new Alfa Connect 3D NAV 8.8-inch infotainment system which offers Apple CarPlay; it is also Android Auto compatible, bringing the best of Google.

If you thought that SUVs were boring, put that on the back burner! This is a vehicle of two personalities, a racer and a very practical set of wheels which is more than worthy to be adorned with the famous Alfa-Romeo badge. You can also find this magnificent engine in the Giulia sports saloon, a real challenger to the BMW M3.

Ian Lynas

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