Victory in the latest Nürburgring battle goes to Alfa Romeo. The Italian automaker’s Stelvio Quadrifoglio lapped the 12.9-mile track in 7 minutes, 51.7 seconds, making it the fastest SUV to ever do so. It beat the previous SUV champ, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, by about 8 seconds. It’s worth noting that any time under 8 minutes was once considered supercar territory.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio was piloted to glory by Fabio Francia, an Alfa Romeo test driver who also achieved a 7 minute, 32 second lap in the automaker’s Giulia Quadrifoglio. Alfa says that is a record for a production-model sedan. The Stelvio is essentially a Giulia with an SUV body, so the mechanical differences between the two are fairly minimal. In the case of both models, the Quadrifoglio (Italian for “four-leaf clover,” referencing Alfa’s racing insignia) is the highest-performance version.
One look under the hood shows why it’s not surprising that the Stelvio and Giulia Quadrifoglio are record setters. Both cars pack a Ferrari-derived, 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which produces 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio sends that power to the ground through all four wheels. The SUV will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and reach a top speed of 177 mph, according to Alfa Romeo. Not bad for a vehicle that’s supposed be a practical family hauler.
While you can admire the performance of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, you can’t actually buy one yet. U.S. sales don’t start until early 2018, although less-extreme base model and Stelvio Ti trim levels are in showrooms now.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s Nürburgring lap record probably won’t go unchallenged for long. Porsche will almost certainly return with a new hot rod Cayenne based on the redesigned third-generation model, and Lamborghini’s Urus SUV is still waiting in the wings. Alfa Romeo may have won this battle, but the war for performance bragging rights will continue.