Blistering new Alfa Romeo SUV

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the fastest SUV in its class, according to its makers.

Evidence for the claim is a remarkable 3.8-second 0-62mph time from the newcomer, a top speed of 176mph and an SUV-record-setting lap record of 7 min 51.7s around the legendary 14-mile Nurburgring circuit in Germany.

It goes on sale in the UK from the summer of 2018 and is Alfa Romeo’s first high performance SUV.

The new model will target the latest generation of performance SUVs, including the forthcoming BMW X3 M and F-Type SVR, as well as the well-established Porsche Macan.

The Quadrifoglio will sit at the top of the Stelvio range, Alfa Romeo’s first SUV which went on sale in September.

There’s no word yet on how much the new model will cost but industry chatter is it’ll be around the £65,000 mark.

That more or less matches the premium applied to the Quadrifoglio version of the Alfa Romeo Giulia salon over the most expensive standard version, the Veloce. The current top of the range Stelvio Milano costs £45,390.

Under the bonnet lies a 2.9-litre turbocharged V6, which produces 503bhp and 600Nm of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Helping to deploy that power is a ‘Q4’ four-wheel-drive system. For the most part the Stelvio Quadrifoglio will be a rear-wheel-drive car, but up to half the engine’s torque can be transferred to the front wheels when needed.

Indeed, the all-wheel-drive system includes torque vectoring to individually control power delivery to each wheel while carbon-ceramic brakes will also be part of the Quadrifoglio specification.

The car will be distinguished from other Stelvio models by exterior modifications including additional vents on the bonnet and flanks, side skirts, large body-coloured wheel arches and quadruple exhaust finishers. The interior will feature extensive use of leather, Alcantara and carbon fibre trim.

The “Quadrifoglio” badge is Alfa Romeo’s performance sub-brand. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a super-saloon that shares some of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s technology.

With Jaguar developing an “R” version of its F-Pace and BMW creating “M” versions of its X3 and X5 models, it seems we’re heading towards something of a golden age for performance SUVs.

That also means this Alfa will have some very stern competition indeed – and that’s without mentioning the already-available Tesla Model X, an all electric SUV that can get from 0-62mph almost a full second sooner than the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

Plenty of people love the growl of a big petrol engine to the silence of an electric motor, however, and Alfa Romeo has no shortage of fans.

I suspect its latest model will do well.