We love us some automotive superlatives - it’s quickest, fastest, or bestest, otherwise it hardly gets a headline. Even SUVs have to keep up. When Bentley launched its Touareg… I mean the Bentayga… The news that rang around the world was that Crewe had just built the fastest SUV in the world.
Yes, the Bentayga can do 301kph, but Lamborghini’s Urus is coming in December and it’ll have a few superlatives to shout about. In the meantime Alfa Romeo is question what makes the fastest SUV in the world anyway.
Take the Ferrari-engined Stelvio as an example - it’s just laid claim to the fastest SUV but it'll only do 286kph. What’s up with that?
The Italians don’t care about top speed brags. Instead Alfa Romeo went to the Nürburgring Nordschleife and put it a lap of seven minutes and 51.7 seconds, the fastest ever recorded around the ‘Ring by a production SUV. That puts it just under the benchmark eight-minute mark (which has more recently become the seven-minute mark thanks to the hypercars) together with the fastest front-wheel drive hatchbacks in the world, and even some sportscars. The BMW M2 and M4 for example, have to settle for spots behind the Stelvio on the list of ‘Ring lap times.
With its Giulia relations, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio makes do with a Ferrari-developed engine and all-wheel drive featuring a torque-vectoring differential and a Race mode. The 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 develops 510 horsepower and 600Nm of torque, which is nothing to shout about these days - the the new third-gen Porsche Cayenne Turbo makes 550bhp.
It’s the Stelvio’s low weight figure of around 1.7-tonnes (as compared to rivals at two tonnes or more) and 50:50 weight distribution as well as the rear-biased drivetrain that bagged Alfa Romeo the record.
Just like the time they took a Giulia Quadrifoglio around to take the production saloon record with a time of 7:32, the driver behind the wheel for the SUV run was Fabio Francia. He set the time behind the wheel of a Stelvio Quadrifoglio fitted with some ultra-high-performance options such as carbon fibre-backed Spark racing bucket seats and carbon-ceramic brakes with Brembo callipers.
Overall Alfa’s lap time of 7:51 for the SUV means they’ve beaten the old Cayenne Turbo S by eight seconds, so it’s now on Zuffenhausen (or should we say Bratislava, where the Cayenne is made…) to fight back with the third-gen S due out any day now. At least until the Urus rules them all.