There’s a notion that all-wheel drive vehicles are boring to drive. Unflappable grip at both ends makes them impossible to beat, both off the mark and out of bends. Driving all four wheels turned motorsport on its head, particularly rallying, while all-paw cars are often banned on track as 4WD is deemed an unfair advantage.
For today’s fast road cars with ever escalating power outputs, AWD is the only way to maximise/contain their potential. With electronics melding more seamlessly with mechanical bits, AWD machines are engineered to terminate bends. Drivers need not think much, just point them where you want them to go and mash the gas pedal; the electronics sort the rest.
These exploits can be awe-inspiring but more of a human touch would be nice. That’s what Alfa Romeo must have been thinking when it concocted the Stelvio. Its Q4 system acts more like a rear driver, utilising the grip of all four wheels only when necessary. And so it makes for an interesting drive as a true Alfa will always have an abundance of character.
This sense of interaction is simmering away in the regular Stelvio, but it’s set to sear in the range-topping Quadrifoglio. Like the hi-po Guilia, it gets the Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre V6, boosted by a brace of turbos to brew up 380kW and 600Nm of twist. The eight-speed auto is fettled to snap through the changes, and the rear diff is an active torque vectoring unit. There are three-mode adaptive dampers while all the systems have an overlord in the Chassis Domain Control, a central brain working to extract the most dynamic response from the hardware.