The 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio does not make a good second impression. The first impression? A-OK, as you approach its distinctive Alfa face, admire its tight proportions and wonder why someone would paint it something other than Alfa Rosso. It's so definitely not German, which counts for a lot should you live in a neighborhood where everyone drives a black BMW or silver Audi. That this Stelvio costs $94,340 seems steep, but at least it has the looks to back it up. Then you pull the door handle and the action is eerily reminiscent of a Dodge Dart. The door opens and the sound and feel are just a bit hollow. You sit down inside and press a button, any button, or turn a knob. The plastic feels cheap and the action is flimsy. It's basically the exact opposite of what you get in an Audi or Porsche. Even their touch-sensitive controls emit a hearty click. Car journalists may go on about "soft-touch materials" in cars, but it’s the switchgear that one ultimately interacts most with. If the volume knob feels Fisher-Price, who cares that the dash and just about every other interior surface is covered in leather? To be fair, the Alfa's cabin is indeed covered as such, and since this is the Quadrifoglio, it gets green and white stitching with carbon fiber trim. It certainly doesn't look cheap, even if it definitely feels it and sounds like it given the duo of distinctive rattles that had already developed in a press car with a mere 3,400 miles on it. There's also the infotainment system, which is highlighted by an 8.8-inch screen that doesn't take good advantage of its sizeable real estate. There's a control knob with accompanying Menu and Option buttons. It's better than Lexus Remote Touch, but that's a bar previously used at a corgi agility competition. Rival systems are easier to use (not to mention FCA's own Uconnect touchscreen) and appear more state-of-the-art (because they are). It's very possible that a prospective luxury SUV shopper would stop right there, never even bothering to go on a test drive. If they'd just come from a Porsche, Audi or BMW store, it's particularly easy to see that happening. Of course, it's the test drive where the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio makes its third and best impression. It's as sizzling and wild as you might have heard. The delicacy and immediacy of the controls are immediately noticed. Associate Editor Zac Palmer recently described the Porsche Cayenne's steering as "lightning-quick." If that's so, the Stelvio's is light speed. I was expecting it, but someone used to a slower SUV rack might immediately veer into a curb. The fact that it's so beautifully light in effort and friction-free combines to provide the most precise and rewarding steering of any SUV I've ever driven. The effort differences between the three "DNA" driving modes ("d" is for dynamic, "n" for natural/normal and "a" for advanced efficiency) seems negligible at first as you …
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|MPG||22 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||280 @ 5200 rpm|
|Drivetrain||Q4 AWD System all wheel|
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