Stranger things have happened, but there is still no explaining why Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio Quadrifoglio does not feel as quick as it should be.
It has the same twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 drivetrain as the Giulia Quadrifoglio, which was reviewed here 16 months ago.
Yet the specs sheet says the Alfa Romeo Stelvio – Alfa’s first sport utility vehicle (SUV) – is quicker, at least from zero to 100.
It does it in a bristling 3.8 seconds or 0.1 seconds quicker than the Giulia saloon.
This is despite the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio being substantially heavier than the Giulia.
Then again, the Stelvio has four-wheel-drive, a trait which usually gives rise to better traction and hence better blast-off timing.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio also appears less powerful than the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, a car which I drove immediately before it.
The rear-wheel-drive Merc is slightly lighter and has a biturbo 4-litre V8 which makes 510hp – exactly what the smaller Alfa engine makes.
But its 0-100kmh timing is 0.2 seconds behind the Italian crossover’s.
At the wheel, it is the Merc which feels faster all round. Perhaps this has to do with it having 700Nm of torque – 100Nm more than the Stelvio.
An abundance of torque often makes a car breezier, while power usually plays itself out only at high revs.
Make no mistake, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is still a relatively punchy number, even if it does not come across as sizzling as its performance figures suggest.
Left in Normal drive mode, the car picks the highest gear possible and you find yourself coasting along within city speed limits in eighth gear, with three engine cylinders firing and the tachometer at 1700rpm or so.
In this mode, you might as well be in a minivan. There is very little of the vigour and exuberance associated with as generous an output as the Italian.
Driven this way, you will not hear the car’s throaty exhaust note either. Step outside and you realise the quad tailpipes are actually rather loud.
To get more out of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, drive in Dynamic or Race mode, preferably with manual gear changing. Huge shift paddles make this easy.
But you will also have to put up with body movement galore, from the springiness typical of an SUV and its hard-to-modulate brakes.
The enhanced verve and brio make it worth it – at least on some days, when you are alone in the car.
As an SUV, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio has hits and misses. First off, its design is not particularly outstanding, with lines which are inoffensive but not especially imaginative.
Inside, second-row space is not generous for a car of its stature. You do not get a lot of knee room and the person in the middle has to put up with a sizeable floor hump.
The boot, however, is fairly commodious.
The driver’s seat hugs your hips snugly like in a sports car, while its headrest is soft and cushy like in a limousine.
You get adaptive cruise control but a rudimentary reverse camera, automatic high beam but a small infotainment screen, and electronic parking brake but without hold function (and a sticky self-release).
You would expect more frills in a $350,000 car. Just as you would expect more thrills from a 510hp car.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio 2.9 (A)
ENGINE 2891cc, 24-valves, V6, turbocharged
MAX POWER 510hp at 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 600Nm at 2500-5000rpm
0-100KM/H 3.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 283km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 11.1km/L
PRICE INCL. COE $369,000