It is often said that fans of Alfa Romeo hold the marque on a pedestal, one that is akin to an almost religious like devotion. For many Alfisti, worshiping at the altar of the Italian car maker is as much a spiritual experience as it is physical. You see out of all the Italian car manufacturers, it could be argued that Alfa Romeo is the one that captures the true soul, the very essence and emotion that is required to make the ultimate drivers car. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is one such car that encapsulates all of this, taking it to levels that are simply staggering and delivers a comprehensive driving experience that borders on the fanatical.
Perhaps such an opening statement is a touch exaggerating, outlandish even. Maybe I got carried away in the moment, the rush of adrenaline clouding my judgement. Many months have passed since I have driven this car and in that time I have been looking for some deep and meaningful words to best describe how it made me feel. I mean can a four door saloon have that much of an impact? Well when I tested the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce last year, I was literally blown away by the way it delivered its performance and handling. Here was a car that literally ticked all the boxes and was simply joyous to drive. There was another level to the model range however that needed to be unlocked and that was of course the Giulia Quadrifoglio. So naturally I sent in a request to Alfa Romeo UK and they very kindly delivered a brand new Giulia Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo for me to sample. I had Alfa’s most powerful road car all to myself for a whole week… and what a week that was.
When the Giulia Quadrifoglio arrived I was initially surprised as I was expecting delivery of a Red Quadrifoglio. Instead I was given a White Quadrifoglio, or to be exact one finished in Bianco Trofeo. I’m not normally a fan of white cars but there is something about the lines of the Giulia that makes the pearlescent white paint job just work, especially with the contrasting dark carbon trim and the 19″ Dark 5-hole alloys. The Giulia is hands down the prettiest saloon on the market right now and in Bianco Trofeo it looks very smart indeed.
Numbers wise the Giulia Quadrifoglio I had on test retailed at £74,555, which included £6,500 worth of options. These options were the Convenience Pack, Electrically Adjustable Seats, Green Seatbelts, Quadrifoglio Leather/Alcantara Flat Bottomed Sports Steering Wheel with Carbon Insert, Harman Kardon Audio and the Akrapovic Sports Exhaust. More on that exhaust later!
Jumping into the Giulia Quadrifoglio, everything in the cockpit was immediately familiar thanks to my time with the Giulia Veloce. The big difference however was the 2.9 litre V6 Bi-turbo up front which packs an additional 230BHP over the Veloce. At this point this is where you need to sit down for a moment to comprehend what is actually on offer. 510BHP in a saloon is simply bonkers but because this is an Alfa Romeo it feels just right, almost sensible and logical even. You see at the time of testing this was the ultimate Alfa Romeo saloon, which has only now been surpassed by the recently sold out Giulia GTA and GTAm.
Settling into the snug leather and alcantara drivers seat, I fired up the V6. Now the first impression from the 2.9 litre motor is that it doesn’t actually sound like a V6 at all. If you are expecting the burble of a legendary Busso like V6 at idle then you might be bit disappointed. It actually sounds more like a diesel in “A” mode from a cold start, which is a little confusing at first. Maybe that is a tad harsh an assessment but that’s how it sounds inside the car. There is a “but” however, and it is a good one and it has something to do with selecting a certain “Dynamic” drive mode and that Akrapovic Sports Exhaust. Again… more on those in a moment.
Like the Veloce the Quadrifoglio sports Alfa’s “D.N.A” drive modes which allows you to choose how you want the car to behave, depending on your mood. Stick the the Giulia in “A” and the car is essentially in its most eco and sensible setting. Driving around the local country roads and into town, the engine was noticeably restrained but it provided enough throttle response to hint at what lay under the bonnet. If you are just going about from A-B this mode makes the Giulia Quadrifoglio one of the easiest 510BHP saloons you could ever drive. Thanks to the brilliant 8 speed ZF gearbox, nipping through traffic is a breeze courtesy of effortless gear changes which couples with the light and responsive steering. At no point does it feel overpowered or too hot to handle. It is perfectly civilised and an absolute peace of cake to potter about in.
If you want to move things up a level the next drive mode is “N”, which increases the throttle response by switching off the torque limiter. This makes the engine a touch more responsive and unleashes more of those Italian horses. If you are feeling in the mood for a more spirited drive, “N” delivers enough acceleration and smiles to satisfy most drivers. At this stage the V6 starts to sound less like a gargling diesel and more like how a proper super sports saloon should sound. However there is a feeling that the Alfa is holding something back, which is where “Dynamic” mode comes in and the real fun begins.
Like on the Veloce, the Quadrifoglio “Dynamic” mode turns the Giulia into something that is simply other worldly. But because this is the Quadrifoglio, the transformation feels almost multidimensional. Basically all the ingredients that make the Quadrifoglio magical are activated when you select “D” and the characteristic of the car goes from somewhat restrained to the proverbial bat unleashed from hell.
To put it simply, in full party mode, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is simply astonishing. So in order to put it through its paces I headed for my favourite test route which involved a mix of twisty A and B roads. The experience was exhilarating.
As the Alfa charged along the twisty tarmac, the acceleration was breathtaking and the claimed 0-62 mph claim of 3.9 seconds felt pretty much spot on. This car is astonishingly fast in both auto and manual modes and as you bury the throttle you realise you are at the wheel of an absolute monster. The Giulia pins you back into your seat and before you know it you’ve hit the national speed limit, the scenery around you whizzing by in a blur. It is so quick it just chews up the road and the beast like V6 sounds truly epic, banishing those early concerns about the cold start up sound. When those twin turbos kick in you really do feel it, which means you need to keep an eye on that speedometer before you get into trouble. But at no point does the Giulia feel out of control.
Now onto that exhaust…. you see the V6 combined with the £3,250 optional Akrapovic Sports Exhaust actually turns the Alfa into a complete and utter hooligan. I had my doubts about the necessity of such an expensive optional upgrade, but when those exhaust valves open and the Akrapovic quad pipes bark, snarl and pop you will be grinning from ear to ear. It really is loud and the transformation is so addictive, you’ll be hammering round in “Dynamic” mode all day long. That’s how good it feels. But there’s more.
The way the Giulia Quadrifoglio handles is just out of this world. Pushing the saloon hard through the corners, the levels of grip were phenomenal and the feedback from the steering simply sublime. This is a car that talks to you and rewards at every turn of the wheel. The steering is quick, direct and beautifully crisp allowing for delicate and precise positioning. Powering through the corners you can feel the tyres gripping the tarmac, which is a rare sensation in a modern car. There is also zero body roll… the balance and poise of the suspension is just a marvel. Even in Soft Suspension mode, the Giulia sticks to the road like it is on rails. And to make things even more entertaining, put the ZF gearbox into manual mode and the substantial paddles come into their own. Blipping up and down through the gears is addictive, the roar from the V6 and the bark from the exhaust pushes you on and on. So much so you don’t want the road to end. This car is seriously quick and thankfully the brakes are excellent and only enhance your confidence behind the wheel.
To put it simply the entire Quadrifoglio package simply delivers on another level. The combination of the lightweight suspension (45% of its components are aluminium) to the very clever torque vectoring diff arrangement which delivers power to the wheel that needs it, the trick front double wishbone system and the 50/50 weight distribution all combine to make the Giulia Quadrifoglio one of the best handling saloons of all time.
All of this translates to unforgettable moments behind the wheel that feel pure, exhilarating and laugh out loud hooligan like fun… all at the same time. It is exactly these moments when all the elements combine to deliver a driving experience that feels like it is transcending to another level. The sensation will leave you in awe of what the Giulia Quadrifoglio actually delivers. It is as intensely physical as it is spiritual. So when you pause to take it all in, it is at that moment that you realise you are worshiping at the altar of Alfa Romeo. Many months after experiencing all of these emotions, that feeling of awe combined with a deep reverence for what Alfa has achieved is still with me. “La meccanica delle emozioni”… the mechanics of emotion… whispered almost like a prayer.
You could say at this point that I have gotten a little bit carried away and allowed my self to get wrapped up by it all, falling for the whole “mechanics of emotion” tag line. Perhaps I have and of course no car is perfect. Yes the Giulia isn’t perfect and it does have a few flaws. The biggest are the run flat tyres which produce a booming sound effect on concrete motorways. When I drove the Giulia Quadrifoglio to the London Classic Car Show at Syon Park, I had to contend with the lovely sections of concrete on the M25. That wasn’t fun at all and I was relieved when I finally got off the motorway. Of course this is an issue that affects most cars with run flat tyres and is a trade off you have to accept. Stick with them or swap for non-run flats and hope you don’t get a puncture. Other niggles include an non sliding arm rest, which is the result of the positioning of the phone wireless charging slot in front of it. A minor detail but one that could have been addressed with a little more thought. Then there’s the positioning of the heated steering wheel button, which is on the passenger side of the centre console. Its not where I would have put it but its not a deal breaker either, especially as its a button that won’t be used for at least 8 months of the year. Its just a niggle. Other reviews have also stated that the interior of the Giulia is not up to the standards of German rivals. I feel this is quite a harsh statement as for me, the fit and finish of the Giulia dash and trim is really very good, feels high quality and it is a very pleasant place to sit.
So after covering 283 unforgettable miles and using almost a full tank of fuel it is quite obvious by now that the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has left quite an impression. Since it departed my driveway and returned back to the Alfa Romeo UK HQ, there’s been a rather large Giulia sized hole left in my heart. There are times my thoughts drift as I recollect those emotions felt behind the wheel and wonder what it would be like to actually own one some day. Of course those of you who are eagle eyed will note that I didn’t use the car in “Race” mode. So the full, ultimate “Party Mode” was not unleashed. That setting I will save for another day, one where I hope to cross paths again with this wonderful machine, ideally in the unrestricted confines of a race track. So there is still another level left for this disciple of the Church of Alfa to unlock. And until then I will continue to worship at the altar of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
Many thanks to Alfa Romeo UK