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First drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (2020MY). Image by Alfa Romeo UK.

First drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (2020MY)
The best Alfa Romeo in decades just got a fair bit better. Go and buy one. Immediately.

 



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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (2020MY)

5 5 5 5 5

There was one thing we would have criticised our favourite modern-day supersaloon, the terrific Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, for previously and that was interior finishing which, in places, was notably substandard. But now the 510hp, rear-driven four-door gains the same cabin updates that the regular Giulia range has already received, as well as extra sound-deadening and maybe a slight tweak of some of its chassis settings. Whatever; the fact is that what was already a blindingly brilliant and class-leading performance car has just moved even further free and clear of its competitors.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (2020MY)
Pricing: Giulia range from 34,995, Quadrifoglio from 67,195, car as tested 72,055
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential and Torque Vectoring, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: four-door supersaloon
CO2 emissions: 236g/km (VED Band 226-255: 1,850 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 27.2mpg
Top speed: 191mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 2,500-5,000rpm
Boot space: 480 litres

What's this?

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, a car which - when it arrived in 2016 - stunned the world with its brilliant dynamics and ridiculously charismatic drivetrain. On top of its undoubted excellence when on the move, it also had many other thoroughly positive attributes. Like any self-respecting Alfa, even the ones from the long, long, long years of mediocrity this hallowed company once wallowed in, it was priced keenly, it was incredibly pretty on the outside and it had a cabin that was replete with some typically stylish Italian design flourishes.

And some absolutely clunking pieces of finishing. The Giulia Q's good bits were a bob-on driving position (not always a given in an Italian car), a thin-rimmed steering wheel that should have told the people at BMW once and for all that comically fat grips are not warranted, some lovely-looking and comfy seats, and then those gigantic aluminium paddle shifts, which - on the theme of teaching the Germans a lesson - expose Audi's ongoing attempts at the same thing as the malnourished, plasticky stumps that they are. If you bought a 2016-2019 Giulia Quadrifoglio on the strength of these paddles and these paddles alone, we wouldn't blame you in the slightest.

However. With one hand Alfa giveth, and with the other it taketh away. So, critically speaking, it was impossible to ignore that the 8.8-inch infotainment was several leagues off the prevailing contemporary standards (and this was four years ago, remember; things have moved on significantly in this particular area since then), that some of the cabin plastics felt cheap, that the transmission-tunnel-mounted rotary controller for the aforementioned infotainment was so flimsy that there was a suspicion it was just an empty, upside-down Sara Lee pie foil tray that had been pressed into service, that the digital display in the instrument cluster looked sparsely populated and like a half-baked afterthought, and then - most egregious of all - that the gearlever had exposed, sharp edges on the sides of it where the two halves of the plastic casing met. It's no good trying to defend this last one by saying the Quadri is an auto, so you only use the gearlever once or twice on a journey, instead resorting to the large metallic glories behind the wheel for the rest of the trip; the last time we found rough edges of plastic in the cabin of a new car, it was on the ill-fated Cityrover in 2004. Shocking, Alfa. Shocking.

So rejoice, then, Alfisti of the world, because the 2020 model year changes enacted on all the other Giulias (and Stelvios, for that matter) have come into play on the mighty flagship. The gearlever is now clothed in smooth leather and it's amazing how much of a difference this one relatively tiny change makes to the overall ambience of the cabin. Similarly, the steering wheel gains the same hide finish, although - as we've already said - that wasn't as desperately in need of remedial work in the first place. Alfa has tidied up the infotainment display, added some Quadrifoglio-specific pages to its functions and even bolstered the strength of the rotary controller to a significant degree, although in terms of haptics this item remains some way off an Audi MMI or BMW iDrive equivalent. And there are more advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) fitted or available on the options list, their operational displays now included in a comprehensive digital screen in the cluster.

Every last thing that grated in the pre-update Quadrifoglio has therefore been addressed. And sure, the changes don't suddenly transform the V6 Giulia's cabin from distant also-ran to runaway class leader, but they do lift it considerably to a place where you no longer cite the interior as an obvious weakness of the car. Otherwise, it's 'as you were' for the 2020MY vehicles. On the outside, the only alterations are smoked, LED rear light clusters and some dark grey detailing here and there, as well as the addition of new colours to the palette of options for the body. One of these (not pictured here, for shame) is Montreal Green; this ought to be the only colour available for the updated Quadrifoglio, because it's utterly exquisite.

How does it drive?

Mechanically, according to Alfa, nothing has changed with the 2020MY Giulia Q. It has the same biturbo V6 engine, the same eight-speed ZF gearbox, the same rear-wheel-drive set-up (no Q4 for this bad boy... yet) with a torque-vectoring, limited-slip-diff-equipped rear axle, the same extensive use of carbon in its make-up to ensure the weight is kept down to a trim 1,524kg (dry, and that mass is purportedly distributed as close to the perfect 50:50 split as makes no difference) and the same 19-inch alloys with high-performance tyres. About the only change Alfa will admit to is extra sound-deadening in key places around the passenger compartment, although there's no mention of according weight gain in conjunction with this.

It doesn't really matter if the Quadri has gained a few kilos here or there, though, nor whether Alfa has had a surreptitious tweak or two of its steering control software and/or variable damping (it feels as if something has changed, as the Giulia has keener turn-in than before and improved ride-comfort manners in its more relaxed settings), the overall outcome is unequivocal: this car is heavenly to drive. It's an absolute delight from push-button start to finish. It sounds tremendous. . . oh, and there's now the option of an Akrapovi? exhaust to further enhance the Quadrifoglio's fabulous, snarling voice, too. It goes like the clappers, its engine free from noticeable lag and so keen to rev out to the redline that you'll swear on your grandmother's life that it's normally aspirated, rather than packing two turbos. It has chassis balance to die for, complete with a wealth of information flooding back to the driver through both steering-wheel rim and the base of the seat, so you form a rapport with it instantly yet you learn new things about it the further you go and the further you push it. The various 'DNA' settings really do meaningfully change the nature of the beast, with Race being particularly exhilarating in dry weather conditions. Seriously, this is not just an exceptional supersaloon as we enter the 2020s - it's just an outstanding performance car of any shape, size or cost, from any era you care to choose.

Incredibly, it now feels even more special to drive when you're not caning it, because the improved cabin quality and that additional noise-suppressing material converts to the Giulia Quadri coming across as solid, dignified and mighty expensive when you're merely cruising sedately in it. It seems to have better bump absorption than before and a less nervous feeling to the way it traverses lumpen surfaces, and when you decide you want to operate something in the interior as you're rolling along in it then you don't get the sudden jarring juxtaposition of having to peer at cruddy graphics on the centre-console screen, nor near-slicing your finger on the plastic housing of the gearlever, nor wondering idly if the infotainment controller might come off in your hand at any given moment. All these things add up to make the Quadrifoglio feel thoroughly prestige and upmarket, even more so than it already did before the updates. So yeah, nothing much has changed in the way the Giulia Quadrifoglio drives in all manner of situations; and as it was phenomenal before the updates, it remains phenomenal now.

Verdict

The updated Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, with its smarter cabin, its improved refinement and its joyous driving experience, is the best supersaloon in the world, bar none. It is as simple as that. Off you pop to your local dealer, then...

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 30 Jul 2020









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2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio UK test. Image by Alfa Romeo UK.








 

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