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Driven: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Image by Alfa Romeo.

Driven: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Our first drive in the Giulia Q set the bar high; a week with one in the UK confirmed its brilliance.

 



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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: Alfa achieves supersaloon perfection, or as close to it as makes no difference

Not so good: Nothing, save for minor interior niggles that really don't matter

Key Facts

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Price: Giulia range starts from 29,875; Quadrifoglio from 61,595
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door supersaloon
CO2 emissions: 189g/km (800 VED first 12 months, then 450 per annum next five years, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 34.5mpg
Top speed: 191mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 2,500rpm

Our view:

Our week with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in the UK was, meteorologically, like our first international drive of this oh-so-important car but stretched out over seven days. A macrocosm, if you will, that began with the sort of rain that might have religious types building a wooden vessel and herding animals onto it, two by two. Faced with a 200-mile trip to Kent in a British summer monsoon, the idea of piloting a 510hp, rear-drive Italian supersaloon through great rivers of surface water was not a pleasant one.

And, just like our first laps of Balocco in the Giulia QF, that journey to the Garden of England was a scary affair. Three times the big Alfa got up on its tippy-toes at (cautious) motorway speeds when encountering standing water, and on a couple of occasions in its most benign of driving modes (Advanced Efficiency, the 'A' of the DNA drive profile selector) we had to jab in some unexpected corrective lock to keep it pointing the direction we were intending to go. That's no major flaw of the Giulia QF, of course, as any sports rubber-wearing supersaloon with 500hp would have struggled in such conditions - and a regular BMW M3 would have been a total mess - but it was hardly the most confidence-inspiring of trips to the south-east.

This was all teeth-gnashingly frustrating, because the initial test drive in Italy had shown us a glimmer of the chassis genius the Giulia undoubtedly possesses. We knew it was there, and we knew we wanted to access it - but forces outside of our control were not permitting us the opportunity of exploiting its talents to the full.

Luckily, redemption - and enlightenment - came on the 200-mile journey back from Kent a few days later. The rain had abated and an intervening warm spell had the roads back to bone dry. Time to finally give the Quadrifoglio a proper whirl. Things started well on a twisting lane in Kent, where - in Dynamic mode - the Giulia felt playful, alive and hugely grippy. The steering wheel and those metal paddle shifts, two of the Alfa's chief tactile delights in a cabin that can, in places, be a touch underwhelming (and that's being kind), provided wonderful feel and mechanical precision in their operation, flowing a wealth of information back to the driver in the process. Without ever once redlining the 2.9-litre V6 during this first stage, already there was a big smile on our face and the hope that we could enjoy the limber underpinnings of the Giulia at a later stage of the journey.

After that initial blast, there followed more than 150 miles of turgid motorway. Dull, you might think, but the odd on-ramp and tight interchange gave us more chance to play with the Alfa's sublime chassis and magnificent drivetrain. This included traversing the River Thames on the way round the M25. Listening to that cacophonous V6, reverberating all of its demented barks and metallic shrieks off the walls of the Dartford Tunnel, as we needlessly decelerated, shifted down a few gears and then pounded forward time and again, was ridiculous fun. That's the 'brutal pace' and 'terrific noise' supersaloon boxes emphatically ticked by the Alfa, then.

And our aural histrionics attracted the attention of a tuned E93 BMW M3 - the 4.0-litre V8 Convertible model, with at least a noisy aftermarket exhaust on it - with which we had a little dice along the Essex stretches of the London Orbital. Naughty to admit this kind of thing in the Draconian anti-speeding day and age, but let's just say the Alfa had the 420hp BMW so comfortably covered for roll-on acceleration that it was frankly embarrassing for the M3. Its driver went in front of us and tried to accelerate away, to no avail; he then dropped in behind and attempted, utterly in vain, to keep up with the Giulia's quad-exhaust-bearing rump; he finally came alongside us and requested a side-by-side flit up through the gears, and once again he was comprehensively wasted by the Italian. Fair play to the fella, he took it in good spirits, waving cheerfully and grinning hugely as he peeled off for his exit, but - as childish as you might think this sort of thing is - taking apart a V8 M3 with such consummate ease was yet another feather in the cap of the Quadrifoglio.

Then we pulled into a Cambridgeshire fuel station to get it some Super Unleaded, and at the pump ahead was a W204 C 63 AMG - the one with the normally aspirated 6.2-litre V8. The bloke and his girlfriend who owned it were standing outside it as they topped it up, and they both turned straight around as the Giulia burbled in behind. As we got out to fill the Alfa, they were full of admiration. "Is that the proper one?" the driver asked. We nodded. "That is stunning," he added quietly, before his girlfriend said: "I used to have a MiTo QV and loved it, but it was so unreliable I said I'd never have another Alfa Romeo. Doesn't matter, though, because I think that -" and she pointed at the Quadrifoglio, "- is absolutely gorgeous." The bloke then piped up: "Think I might have to have a look at trading up to one of those from this," tilting his head at the Merc as he said it.

We tell this largely irrelevant little anecdote because, in the space of one short exchange with a bona fide member of the supersaloon-owning fraternity, it's clear to see how much of a remedial effect the Giulia Quadrifoglio has had for Alfa's brand image. Unreliability be damned, when you execute a 510hp supersaloon as well as this, people are more than ready to give Alfa Romeo another go.

Heartened by that encounter, and by the Alfa's unbelievable brilliance at simply cruising comfortably and sedately up a motorway, the time eventually came to get the Quadrifoglio off the boring roads and onto some more interesting routes that were closer to home. Along fast A-roads and wider B-roads, it was already demonstrating its glittering handling prowess. But we knew The Lane was still ahead - our five-mile stretch of testing tarmac that we use to shake down all important performance cars. Full of dips, adverse cambers, tricky bends and even blind-crest turns, it's like a shorted version of Ford's notorious Lower Dunton Road.

Well, the Alfa absolutely monstered The Lane. Destroyed it in an exhilarating rush of motoring nirvana. We had air time. We had old-F1-esque sparks, on one occasion, flashing off the flat underside of the car as it hunkered into the road through a bumpier section of tarmac. We had wonderful bouts of controllable, tidy oversteer. We had feel flooding through the steering wheel's rim. We had sweaty palms and a racing heart and a huge grin and exultant shouts of joy as we drove that Alfa as hard as we possibly dared for five miles of pure automotive ecstasy. Nothing that we've ever driven along that road has ever felt as intoxicatingly magnificent or spellbindingly fast as that Alfa did. In one brief, maximum-attack excursion, on the back of all it had done in the preceding 195 miles from Kent, we fell completely head over heels in love with the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Sure, the infotainment is a bit cruddy and so are some of the bits of interior switchgear. And yes, we've heard of other press demonstrator, low-mileage Giulia QFs having plenty of temperamental hissy fits that hardly help to eradicate Alfa's reputation for unreliability. But, and this is slightly blase of us, we really don't think this stuff matters. Not once you've driven the Giulia Quadrifoglio and come to the realisation that this is the best supersaloon on sale right now, and therefore probably the best ever made.

It's a spectacular, beguiling, wonderful, gorgeous, sensational machine, an Alfa Romeo in the truest possible sense, the first genuinely world-beating thing the company has turned out in decades. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio might well be the greatest thing we've driven this year, and even the finest car we've ever had the pleasure of steering; that's how much we adore it. If you love driving for the sake of driving, this is as close to motoring perfection as you could hope to get. Buy one, right now, so you can send Alfa Romeo the clear signal that it is doing things as right as right can be.

Alternatives:

BMW M3: Only makes sense with the 3,000 Competition Pack fitted, and even then it's still not a match for the Giulia. That's right, we said it: the BMW M3 is NO MATCH for the Giulia.

Lexus GS F: Even though it's from the class above in physical size, the GS F is about on a par for price with the Alfa. Lexus has a charismatic V8 drivetrain, but the Giulia Q simply dances rings around it.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: The Alfa's toughest competition is the barrel-chested C-Class, which uses its biturbo, 510hp V8 to devastating effect. We'd still have the Giulia... but it's a close call.


Matt Robinson - 21 Nov 2017









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2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drive. Image by Alfa Romeo.








 

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