The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, a vehicle that has had the attention of the entire automotive world for the better part of the last year or more. It is been hailed as a triumphant return to making vehicles that aren’t small, crappy hatchbacks for the storied Italian brand and the noble steed the brand is riding in its return to the United Statees market for the first time in decades.
It is also been hailed as one of the best performance sedans ever and currently holds the record for 4 door production cars at the famed Nürburgring, with a blistering 7:32 lap time. The Giulia has garnered numerous awards and captured the hearts of car nerds the world over.
An all-time great back road bomber
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is the best-driving sports sedan on the market, bar none. You may have heard others say exactly the same thing, but you are hearing it here now, so try to imagine that it is being screamed at you. There are competitors that are more comfortable, more refined and have a more lustrous model pedigree, but the Alfa blows them all away in terms of engagement and downright sharpness, it is freaking fast, too. Perhaps what amazes me most is that this is a proprietary, ground-up platform that just put the likes of the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63, Cadillac ATS-V and Audi RS5 on notice. As much as Fiat-Chrysler has an aversion to building entirely new platforms for cars, the Challenger and Charger have been using the late 90s Mercedes E-Class platform forever, when they really put their minds to it, magic happens. Much of what makes the Giulia QF so good is the extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum materials throughout the vehicle. The hood, roof, front splitter, spoiler, side skirts, interior trim and driveshaft are all genuine carbon fiber and basically everything else is aluminum, keeping weight down to less than 3’800 pounds, less than the ATS-V and C63S, but more than M3.
What is more, it boasts a 50/50 weight distribution and adaptive damping suspension and that translates to real on-road balance, even when pushed close to limit. The steering rack has one of most direct ratios you can ever felt and just darts into a corner with no questions asked by the slightest turn of delightfully thick carbon fiber and Alcantara steering wheel. The sticky Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires provide eye-popping levels of grip and the whole car rotates and hugs through a turn like a champion Tour de France rider.
The 2,9 liter twin turbocharged V6 is hewn from block of a Ferrari V8, featuring a 90 degree angle and some serious shuddering at idle from the unbalanced crankshaft. Not to fear as it makes the whole vehicles feel alive and ready to pounce at all times. It makes 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, most in its class by a very narrow margin over the AMG C63S’s 503 horsepower.
The sound that emanates from quad exhaust pipes is heavenly, an awesome mix of guttural and melodic and way more interesting than majority of boosted 6 cylinders on market. Compared to the M3 and ATS-V, it is Pavarotti. That is, when you can hear it. The Giulia Quad features active exhaust flaps that stay closed most of time unless you have Dynamic mode engaged and reach a certain engine speed or you engage Race mode, which basically turns off all electronic nannies. The unconventional brake by wire system that Alfa has built into Giulia is mediocre at best and while the standard Brembo steel disks and 6 piston front rotors are plenty grabby, it can make gradually coasting to a stop a jerky affair and when driving hard, you do not get the same feel as you would from a conventional setup.
When it comes to features, basic is as loaded as you can get
Here is where the drawbacks of buying a never before seen vehicle from an Italian brand that is been missing from the United States market for a quarter century come into play. That is not to say that the Giulia QF is entirely sub-par to its competition in terms of features. For the most part, material quality is pretty convincing and while there are obvious shades of Fiat Chrysler touches throughout interior, specifically the Chinese toy-grade plastic around shifter and the squishy PlaySkool material on the lower dashboard, there are some touches that help class up the joint.
The issue arises when you actually use the system, which is delightfully simple in its setup, but almost entirely devoid of a distinct character and plagued by a slow processor, it might as well be running TurboTax. There are distinct luxury and tech features missing from the Giulia’s option sheet that other competitors have offered for years, including a head-up display, available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, brake hold and ventilated front seats. Still, if you actually like having a short features list in your performance vehicle, you may find the Giulia refreshingly Spartan, but those thinking of migrating over from German brands might be in for a less than pleasing surprise.
A strong introduction, but will sex and driving thrills actually sell?
So the Giulia Quadrifoglio is the fastest of bunch, the best to drive of bunch and I would say it is the best looking too, or at least really interesting. It is got style, sexiness, that new kid on the block factor and it drives like a bat outta’ whatever the Italian word for “hell” is. Well, that is where things get complicated, as the Giulia is currently one of the slowest selling vehicles in the whole industry, with less than 3’500 units moved since its introduction to market in February. People just do not want sedans anymore and if they do, they want one from a proven brand and preferably a German or Japanese badge. When you are going up against the vehicle that actually founded the compact performance luxury vehicle category in the BMW M3, it is going to take a long time and a lot more effort to truly steal a significant piece of pie. Mercedes has been at it for decades with the C-Class AMG models and still has not caught up.