Alfa Romeo has a different identity on each side of the Atlantic. They’re fairly ubiquitous in European cities. Certainly more exotic than a Renault or a Citroen and more of a statement car than a Ford or a Toyota, Alfas are still common sights in any Euro-capital. In fact, whether it’s a an inexpensive hatchback or a more ambitious sedan, you can’t pitch a fistful of tagliolini across a Rome street without hitting an Alfa Romeo. Regardless of the model or where it’s driven, there remains a lot of loyal affection for Alfas in European climbs.
In the U.S., FCA positioned its Alfas as more exotic, mid-range luxury cars after slowly introducing them back into the North American market from 2008 onward. The first Alfa Romeo to make noise in the U.S. after Fiat Chrysler decided to stamp its passport was the 4C Spider. Flashy, fast and impudent, the two-seater was meant to garner attention for the automaker. Offered with manual steering and racing suspension, it was only intended for true driving enthusiasts and never expected to be a big seller.
The following years brought the world the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover SUV. The latter was an inevitable addition as small SUV types remains the hottest selling class of vehicles in the world. Still, both of these entries felt as tame as the 4C felt insane.
The 2020 Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the performance-tuned version of that crossover, and — as a result of the extra work that went into its capabilities — it’s the first mass market Alfa Romeo available in the U.S. that really offers some of the Italian passion that gives the make its popularity overseas.
Depending on trim levels and chosen options, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio will run well worth of $80,000 — positioning it alongside performance SUV offerings from Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus. For that money, you drive home a 2.9 liter, twin–turbocharged V6 Engine putting out an astounding 505 horsepower. To put that engineering into perspective, there are domestic-build V8s that can’t match that HP.
An eight-speed automatic transmission with sport shifters puts that power down, and the driver can choose with how much urgency via Alfa Romero’s DNA driving dynamics system. The “N” stands for Natural Mode – a sort of general setup for city driving or grand touring. The “A” offers All-Weather Mode for moving in extreme conditions.
Let’s not worry about those and scamper off to the “D” for Dynamic. A flick of the dial into that level tightens the suspension, squeezes the fuel injectors and irritates the tail pipes until they make an angry, grumbling bark with every gear change. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio transforms from comfortable crossover people carrier to overgrown rally car with hissing turbochargers, popping exhaust notes, steady acceleration and ample grip.
All wrapped up, this is the small SUV for the man who needs a little more size in his vehicle, but who hasn’t given up on misbehaving altogether. Calling on the Alfa Romeo racing pedigree, the 2020 Stelvio Quadrifoglio proves there’s still a lot of life in one of Italy’s beloved brand.