I had a few hours to get reacquainted with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, but it was the first time I was driving the hyped-up performance Quadrafoglio version.
Powered by the same Ferrari-derived engine in the Italian carmaker's Giulia, the Stelvio is an SUV and it weighs 1.9-tonnes, mainly due to its all-wheel-drive system. The Stelvio has the carbon-fibre prop shaft from the Giula.
Driving in a busy city like Cape Town meant I wasn't able to test the carmarker's claim of 0-100km/h of 3.8 seconds and 283km/h top speed. Nope, the drive wasn't about numbers, it was about emotion (cue cheesy motoring hack line about Alfa).
The Stelvio QV's heart, an engine that's mostly borrowed from the Ferrari California T V8 model, is so powerful that you're bound to prod the throttle whenever a sliver of the open road presents itself.
It punches a hole in the air and turns the scenery into a blur before you realise what's hit you. This engine will go down in history as one of the best to be produced, in terms of performance.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox fires from massive Dumbo ear-shaped paddles fitted to the steering column. The 'box is well, almost flawless. It changes gears without interruption, it's like adding Parmesan cheese to a lovely bolognese. Delicious.
The glorious engine note is uninhibited and simply fizzes, pops and bangs whenever it wants to. I've posted a clip below, be sure to turn the volume up and have tissues nearby to wipe the blood from your eardrums. It's utterly fantastic.
The only aspect that supersedes the noise is the steering. Yes, the seating position is too high and the steering wheel doesn't have enough adjustment. The steering feel is super accurate, direct, and immediately makes the experience of the Stelvio rise faster than Tesla stock.
So, a couple of hours was all I needed to decide whether the Stelvio QV is more than the sum of its parts. It's about the driving experience, and what an experience it is.