Born from one of the world’s greatest driving roads — the Stelvio Pass — the 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio holds the Nurburgring record for the fastest production SUV with a lap time of 7 minutes and 51.7 seconds. FCA photo

Alfa Romeo Stelvio unlike most other crossovers in the segment

This week’s tester requires a lesson in Italian. The 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is molto caldo, which translates to very hot!

Interestingly enough, Quadrifoglio translates to cloverleaf or four-leaf clover. This pays tribute to Alfa Romeo’s rich racing heritage. When you see that cloverleaf, you know there’s something special under the hood.

And that quadrifoglio made this Alfa Rome Stelvio quite memorable. The Stelvio has a lot of mystique and mystery surrounding it. Its shape and styling seem to defy the compact crossover segment. But that’s a good thing, as that segment lacks distinction, and the Stelvio has that in bunches.

Also, the Italian/European look gives an immediate impression that it’s an import. The average car buyer may be unaware, but Alfa Romeo is a luxury brand owned by Fiat-Chrysler (FCA). It’s, in fact, one of the most distinctive nameplates under the FCA umbrella.

On looks, the Stelvio breaks out of the “bubbly” look of most compact crossovers and throws European sexiness all over the place. The triangular grille comes to a point, flanked by horizontal, squinty LED headlights. It almost gives the front end a facial appearance. The longer hood and shorter back end give it an elongated profile. The quad tail pipes, plus the rear spoiler, show off the Stelvio’s aggressive side.

Without that beautiful cloverleaf on the side, the Stelvio is an athletic crossover. But with the quadrifoglio, the Stelvio is a beast. My tester came equipped with a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. It cranked out 505 horsepower. It had an aggressive tune to the engine, that really sung when you got into the accelerator. Off the line it was a blazer. There was no turbo lag whatsoever.

The eight-speed automatic transmission is outstanding and is the best transmission I’ve seen from any FCA vehicle. Rear-wheel drive is standard and would be appealing to the true enthusiast. My tester came with the optional all-wheel drive, which I enjoyed. My love for AWD is well documented through all my car reviews.

The interior of the Stelvio is distinctive. It combines luxury with quirkiness. Some of the standard instrumentation layout of European vehicles that many find quirky in the U.S. are prevalent on the Stelvio. But, it’s also incredibly luxurious with supple materials and high-end touchpoints. In short, the Stelvio’s interior is like no other vehicle you’ll drive. While it’s not flawless as some areas could be more intuitive, there is plenty to enjoy.

New for this model year are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make the infotainment system enjoyable.

Racing-style seats made it difficult to find a comfortable seating position, despite having a 14-way adjustable function. The comfort didn’t come easy. The back seat was cramped. The Stelvio claims it offers room for five, but it would be more suited for four adults as three in the back would want for shoulder and leg room. Behind the second row there is 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room. This is below average for this segment. My tester had an optional hands-free rear liftgate. With seats folded flat, cargo room increased to 56.5 cubic feet which is still sub-par for this segment.

Paying for the quadrifoglio upgrade comes at a premium. My tester had a base price of $79,795. With optional equipment, my tester had a final MSRP of $84,390. That is one expensive four-leaf clover!

This twin-turbocharged crossover sacrifices fuel efficiency for fun. I’m always OK with that. But as tested, the Selvio had an MSRP of 17 mpg/city and 23 mpg/highway. The turbo and the AWD really detract from fuel efficiency. But I wouldn’t want this crossover any other way.

I’ve always been a fan of Italian things. And the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio hasn’t changed my opinion on that. If anything, this hot Italian crossover has reinforced it. While it’s not flawless or inexpensive, it is one of the most enjoyable small crossovers to drive. As they say in Italian: Andiamo a guidare (Let’s drive)!

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