There are several other hot-rodded compact crossovers, but none is as ravishing as the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Thankfully, the Italian stunner is as fun to drive as its curvy body is to look at. Alfa Romeo supplies the zestiest Stelvio (the rest of the lineup is reviewed separately) with a 505-hp twin-turbo V-6 that slings from a stop and sings at WOT (read: wide-open throttle). It is worth mentioning that Alfa is known for its reliability issues. Still, the enthralling six-pot sends power to all wheels via a prudent eight-speed automatic that can be shifted with prominent column-mounted paddles. Encounter a snaking mountain pass—like the one the Stelvio is named after—and the Quadrifoglio (QF for short) will showcase its surprising athleticism and immersive controls. Sure, the 2021 Stelvio QF’s interior volume is smaller and its price higher than luxury rivals, but its attractiveness and exclusiveness are more apparent.
What’s New for 2021?
The Stelvio QF enters the 2021 model year with fresh exterior colors and a new wheel-size option. The former includes four hues: Ocra GT Junior, Rosso GTA, Rosso Villa d’Este, and Verde Montreal. The latter is a newly optional set of 21-inch aluminum rims with Alfa’s five-hole design that can be had in dark or silver finish.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The 505-hp Stelvio Quadrifoglio is more expensive than both the 503-hp version of the BMW X3 M and the 503-hp Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S coupe. However, the extra coin rewards shoppers with the best-looking SUV in its class and Alfa’s Italian-built exclusivity. The version we’d choose would forgo the optional Sparco racing seats due their restrictive qualities and lack of heating elements. However, we’d add the Carbon package that dresses the exterior mirrors, V-shaped grille, and steering wheel with carbon fiber and includes a leather-wrapped shift knob. We’d also opt for the Premium and Active Assist 2 packages that together bring a 115-volt power outlet, heated back seats, wireless charging, and a host of driver assists (adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, etc.).
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The sole engine is a hypnotic twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 that makes 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. It pairs exclusively with a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. One version we tested rocketed from zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, making it one of the quickest SUVs we’ve ever tested. The most impressive trait of this hot crossover—along with its stunning body—is an ethereal chassis that rides as well as it turns. A set of standard adaptive dampers allows you to select the firmness of the ride, but only the bumpiest roads diminish the ride quality. Otherwise, the Stelvio QF corners with remarkable poise and rewards the driver with communicative steering feedback. The sticky performance tires and beefy brakes on our test vehicle helped haul the QF from 70 mph to zero in 157 feet, performance befitting that of a sports car.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the 2021 Stelvio Quadrifoglio will earn 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are slightly higher than the similarly powerful AMG GLC63 S (15 mpg city/22 highway) and considerably better than the X3 M (14 mpg city/19 highway). The last Stelvio QF we ran on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route—part of our extensive testing regimen—fell short of expectations with a result of 21 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Stelvio QF’s interior has some build-quality flaws, but its leather-covered and contrast-stitched surfaces are much improved versus the materials found on the regular Stelvio. The QF’s supportive front seats, nearly perfect driving position, and enormous column-mounted paddle shifters ensure the driver never feels too far from the racetrack. It also has many desirable standard features such as 14-way power-adjustable front seats, ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel and front-seat cushions, and more. The Stelvio has a comfortable back seat, but headroom and interior cubby storage are unremarkable. Still, we managed to fit eight carry-on suitcases behind its back row and another 11 bags with the seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every QF includes an 8.8-inch touchscreen that also operates through a handy rotary controller on the center console. It includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; a Wi-Fi hotspot and a wireless phone-charging pad are optional. The infotainment system features crisp graphics, intuitive menus, and a customizable layout. Unfortunately, some of the icons and information are hard to see and some navigation directions were delayed. Audiophiles will appreciate the Stelvio’s standard 12-speaker, 900-watt Harman/Kardon audio system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Stelvio Quadrifoglio hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Still, the compact luxury crossover offers driver-assistance technology such as standard automated emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. Key safety features include:
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available automatic high-beam headlights
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for one year or 10,000 miles