I’ve got to admit, I don’t know that much about Alfa Romeo. Certainly, I’d heard of the company, and I knew it was Italian, but that was about it.
Then, when I told people I was getting the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio to test drive for a week, the passion came out. Never have I felt so blessed to have my job, as people from all over the world were messaging me, like I was the luckiest guy on the planet.
Then I picked up the car. The Blue Streak, as it came to be known. And they were right.
The Stelvio is an amazing car, an SUV with racecar performance and comfort like nothing I have ever experienced.
Usually, when I do a test drive, I’m glad for the car or the motorcycle to go back, because as good as these products are, they aren’t mine. I have to be careful with them and I know they are part of my work life and don’t belong to me.
Not the Alfa, however. I did everything in this car and it became part of my life, and I honestly didn’t want to take it back.
I even drove it to the recycling center in my small town, where a stranger came up to me to ask, “How do you like your Alfa?”
I quickly told him that it wasn’t mine, that I was just testing it for a story, and I could see my standing drop in his eyes. I was lucky to drive it, he seemed to be saying, but not lucky enough to own it.
“It’s the single best car I have ever owned,” he went on to say. “I simply love it and I can’t think of any other car I would rather own. I look forward to driving it every single day, even to the déchetterie to recycle my cardboard.”
When I first heard I was getting the car, I had to figure out which watch brand to pair it with. I immediately thought of Giuliano Mazzuoli, a small Italian watchmaker who I met years ago and I knew he had a history with Alfa Romeo.
I called Simone, who works with Mazzuoli, and told him the situation. He agreed to send me the Contagiri 8C Competizione, a watch specifically designed to look like the rev counter of a racing Alfa Romeo.
Perfect. And the test began.
We’ve got to start with performance, as the 2.9 Biturbo Q3 Alfa Romeo has an incredible Ferrari engine under the hood. With 505 horsepower on tap, this engine is capable of going 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. The Alfa has four modes, some that are “greener” than others, but I stayed in Dynamic mode most of the time. I was, to be honest, afraid to do more than just try Race mode, because it removed all the rider aids, and after all, it wasn’t my car.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is quick, powerful, has great feel and adds to the mix an engine growl that is addictive. It only starts its growl flat out on the way to its top end, so I couldn’t stop punching it, just to hear that motor roar.
The Contagiri watch, in its own way, celebrates the Alfa’s performance. Matching the rev counter, its single hand moves up the dial from 0–12, flicking back to 0 immediately. It’s a great looking watch that performed flawlessly during the test.
I have to admit I like comfort, but a powerful car that is too soft and cossetting just doesn’t work for me. The interior of this car is taut, ready for anything. With the performance of this car, you need to be an active participant and the interior is designed to do just that. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio I was loaned was tricked out with carbon fiber bits, and it had yellow Brembo performance brakes, so it certainly looked the part. The red start button on the steering wheel was a great touch — kind of like a launch button with just a hint of warning: “Don’t push this until you are really ready.”
At the same time, there were creature comforts galore as well. The seats were leather and heated — heck, even the steering wheel was leather-wrapped and heated (which I really appreciated on cold mornings).
I loved the blue color of this car. I saw a number of Stelvio Quadrifoglios while I was driving, but most of them were subtle gray or black. The blue stood out and I often came out of my office or the shops to find people taking pictures of the car.
Oh, if only it were mine.
The Contagiri watch was also extremely comfortable to wear, especially since it had no crown to get in the way. The watch is set and wound by flicking a lever on the side of the case, which allows the bezel to turn. Turning that bezel counter-clockwise winds the watch, while turning it in the other direction sets the time.
Reading the time on the Contagiri took a bit of getting used to, as most of us are not used to reading time in a linear fashion. But I like having to focus on my watch to read the time, as it helps to remind me of the time passing and the worth of the mechanical watch.
It didn’t take long before reading the time on the Contagiri became second nature and it was no longer an issue.
Every time I do a test like this, I make sure to show my watch to whoever I’m with to get their opinion. Everyone I showed the watch to loved it, getting immediately that it was a motorsport watch and they loved the retrograde time display and the single hand.
The endearing quirkiness of the Contagiri watch fit right into the overall feel of the car. Not only did its design match the rev counter, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio went about its business in a slightly quirky way. For an SUV, it wasn’t coddling or supremely comfortable, but in a very good way. It didn’t handle like an SUV, it moved and cornered like a sports car. Its décor wasn’t so much elegant as seriously focused on performance.
To sum up, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio was a joy to drive and look at, and I felt the same way about the Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri watch. They went hand-in-hand, and I got a kick out of driving the Alfa Romeo while wearing this distinctively Alfa Romeo-inspired watch.
Even today, weeks after the test, I am still looking out my office window, expecting — no, hoping — to see the Blue Streak parked out front.