Emotion can be provoked by anything. A sunny day. Your team scoring a goal. The sound of a V6 rising through its rev range. It’s certainly something we attach to our cars. Well, some of our cars. Few fantasise about their next MPV or crossover, but add a dash of Italian flair and the mind wanders. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio sets minds wandering and pulses racing. Bad reviews of this car are rare as hens’ teeth. To hear each journalist after the next queueing up to sing its praises, you know this is something special. But can the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio really live up to the hype?
If nothing else, it certainly stands out from the crowd. It’s a striking looking car, all curves and aggression, writing cheques that the engine spectacularly cashes. There’s no four-wheel drive safety net, so it’s lively. Really lively. It sounds fantastic. The model tested came fitted with the optional Akrapovic exhaust and it adds to the occasion every time you floor the throttle. If you’re getting an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, you’d be mad not to consider ticking that box. You don’t want to listen to Pavarotti through your computer speakers. Give him some clarity. There’s no denying the intoxicating appeal.
What’s the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio like to drive?
The intoxication spreads from its appeal to the driving seat. The seating position is nice and low and the steering wheel adjustable to your preference. It immediately makes you want to drive. It stirs your emotions from the get-go.
Press the start button on the steering wheel and the V6 rumbles into life. It’s a 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 that produces 510hp. 0-60 takes just 3.9secs and it will top out at 191mph. The 600Nm of torque delivered from 2500rpm give the car a satisfying shove forward with each gear change. To accompany this, the steering and pedal modulation are brilliantly judged. Steering is almost telepathic; the car moves in tune with your thought process. The accelerator and brake pedals respond to deft inputs and there’s good feedback through the brake pedal.
The ZF 8-speed gearbox is really enjoyable, too. Often in automatic cars it’s better to leave the car to its own devices, the flappy paddles offering little to the overall experience. That’s categorically not the case in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Responses to your shifts are swift. With such a free-revving engine, it’s engaging to use manual mode and bring yourself a little closer to the action. Alfa Romeo, too, fits the Giulia Quadrifolgio with wonderful, long metal gear shifters. In some of the competition, the paddles are a plastic afterthought. In the Alfa, they demand to be used.
Then there’s the liveliness. Being rear-wheel drive, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio does have a tendency to step out of line. The traction control kicks in to rescue your incompetence, but should you select Race mode from the four options available, it leaves you to your own devices. In full on attack mode, you’d need more talent than I possess to start flinging it around.
So, is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio for everyone?
This leads us into one of the few negatives. No, this car isn’t for everyone. If you like four-wheel drive, oodles of traction and teleporting from A to B, then the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio might be a bit much. It’s a car that demands total concentration to be driven quickly. If you’re not on your mettle, it will catch you out.
It’s not a car that likes the wet. Or the cold. A combination of both (and I reviewed this car in November. In the UK) and the struggle for traction is noticeable. Some of this is contributable to the race focussed Pirelli tyres fitted as standard. Think ahead and get some more appropriate winter boots and it will likely make a world of difference. It’s another thing to consider, though.
In dank conditions that are to be expected over here, you can kiss goodbye to a 0-60 time of 3.9secs. That shouldn’t be all that important, but to some it undoubtedly is. Traction is also a friendly hand when considering the ‘family’ aspect of this family saloon. You’ll be reticent to hustle along when you’ve got the kids in the car.
When they are aboard, however, you can take advantage of the different driving setting. Race is for lunatics, as we’ve already established, so what of the more day-to-day settings? Alfa’s DNA set up offers three distinct propositions. Dynamic turns everything up to 10 but keeps enough traction control handy to keep you out of your nearest hedge. Normal tones things down a touch, relaxes the throttle response but still allows the exhaust not to permeate the cabin. Advanced efficiency mode neuters the car and tries to save the polar bears. So, you can reign the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in and cut your cloth accordingly.
Hang on, this all sounds great!
Yeah, I’m pitching these as negatives in an attempt to find some balance. I love the fact that you have to be on your game when driving the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. It demands complete focus, but if you do want to potter around in it, you can. My wife loved driving it, too, and there’s no chance she played around with the settings. She managed to get around in Normal mode without ending up in a hedge.
When you’re using it as a family saloon, it’s a surprisingly pliant car, too. I was impressed with how it handled speedbumps and potholes in such an unfussy manner. Even in its stiffer suspension setting, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio offers a firm but forgiving ride. Sometimes these settings can be too much for road use; not so here.
The cabin is nicely presented. There’s a minimalist vibe, but everything is functional and well thought out. Charging your phone and connecting it to the infotainment is easy. There are several driver information options. You wouldn’t go crazy about the infotainment system, but it works and it’s not why you’d buy this car anyway.
The model tested came fitted with the optional Harmon Kardon audio system and that deserves a mention as it’s rather good. When you’re not listening to the Akrapovic exhaust blare out the noise of the V6, you can listen to your favourite tunes in peace and quiet.
One other slight irritation to note; there’s no individual mode setting. To hear the exhaust in its most aggressive guise, you need to be in Race mode. It is arguably worth risking a trip to your nearest hedge to hear it, but it would be nice to select that in tandem with a couple of safety aids.
When you find the right bit of (dry) road the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio just comes alive in your hands. It’s an immersive, intoxicating experience that leaves you wanting more. I know I’ve driven a special car when I feel like I just didn’t drive it enough in the time that I had it. This is exactly how I felt when this was collected.
It’s perfectly positioned for people who want a car like this. You’ll know immediately if this is for you or not. If you prefer all-wheel drive, other options are available. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, however, goes its own way and stands out for it. There just aren’t many cars like this left available. It just doesn’t disappoint. As things get safer and faster (I know that sounds contradictory!) cars like this have been squeezed out. For that reason, it’s easy to see why journalists have fallen head over heels for it. There’s nothing anodyne about the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. There’s also nothing else quite like it.
Everything is geared towards the driving experience. The seats hug you in, the steering wheel is a perfect size in your hands. That engine is a masterpiece and the whole package comes together superbly. You have to respect it, but I love it for that. Every time you accelerate hard you feel like you’re pushing the boundaries – and it’s amazing.
If you’re looking for a family saloon with a healthy side serving of hooliganism, look no further. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is perfectly in tune with its audience.
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