JEREMY Clarkson isn’t exactly a fan of SUVs, pointing to interiors that don’t usually offer any extra space over of a traditional hatchback along with added weight and a high centre of gravity, which result in a comparatively poor driving experience.
But that’s not to say he hasn’t been impressed by one or two in the past, not least the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, which he reviewed back in summer 2017.
Of that car, he wrote: “It takes time to learn to think your way round corners, but when you get there, I must say this is a genuinely exciting car to drive. It doesn’t feel as cumbersome as all the other SUVs, and you get the impression it was engineered by people who were involved because they wanted to be. Not because they’d done something wrong.”
And added: “It may even be irresistible when Alfa launches the version with the 500-horsepower petrol engine.”
Well, Clarkson has now driven the beefier, petrol-powered model, and his review in today’s Sunday Times Magazine shows that he hasn’t come away disappointed.
The main highlight of the Stelvio QV for JC is the engine: a twin-turbocharged V6 made by Ferrari (producing 503bhp, in fact), which he calls “a masterpiece. Genuinely, an all-time great.”
He says the ride doesn’t cope well with broken roads, thanks to tightened up suspension (“Really tightened”) and “tyres that have the give of steel”, but points out that it rides like a racer because that’s exactly what it is; it even has a carbon-fibre prop shaft.
What makes it even more of a hoot, Clarkson says, is the rear bias on the four-wheel drive system. Unlike most 4×4 SUVs, the Alfa is rear-wheel drive most of the time and sends torque to the front wheels when needed. But in no hurry, apparently.
Clarkson writes: “Alfa says when they [the rear wheels] lose grip, power is sent immediately to the front, but as I exited one roundabout on full opposite lock, I can testify to the fact that Alfa’s idea of ‘immediately’ and mine are a bit different.”
He goes on to call the car even more of a lunatic than the Lamborghini Urus, which is saying something. All of which is why you should buy one … but you’ll end up with an Audi Q5 anyway, he predicts.
Read his review in full at thesundaytimes.co.uk