It’s not every day a new vehicle really impresses me. But the Giulia Quadrifoglio is anything but an everyday car.
Engine: 2.9L twin-turbocharged V6
Output: 505 hp, 443 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 17 city, 24 hwy, 20 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 13.8 city, 9.6 hwy, 11.9 combined
US As-Tested Price: $77,195, including $1,595 in delivery fees
CAN Estimated Price: $89,995, including $2,495 in delivery fees
There’s such a sense of occasion driving this Alfa Romeo sedan. In a sea of Bimmers and Benzes, it stands out like a bikini-clad Kate Upton at Walmart. Even the unwashed masses take notice; a guy at the paint store was ogling it when I went to get a quart of primer. I should have put some drop cloths down to soak up all the drool.
In simple terms, Giulia comes alive in your hands, like she’s got a soul of her own. Almost nothing about the driving experience feels synthesized. There’s a purity to the way she carries herself that few roadgoing vehicles can match.
Even segment rivals like the Cadillac ATS-V, BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S don’t seem as involving, quite so pure, and these are some damn fine automobiles. What Alfa Romeo engineers have wrought is nothing short of astounding.
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Instant, Immediate, Right Now
Steering feel is perhaps Quadrifoglio’s proudest dynamic element, which may be even better than the fully manual setup found in Alfa’s 4C, which is a sports car that’s made largely of aluminum and carbon fiber. Yeah, it’s that good.
This machine changes direction with zero delay. There’s no slop or ropiness, the effort builds naturally and intuitively. It’s a perfect connection between your palms and the pavement below. The tuning and weighting make me ask why practically every other vehicle feels like a Conestoga wagon in comparison.
Even the wheel itself is a precision instrument. In our test example, it was trimmed with leather, carbon fiber, and suede, an arrangement that adds $400 to the price tag. Thin up top but meaty in all the right places, the rim feels oh-so good in your hands. For an exotic touch, the engine start button is also mounted on the wheel, bringing to mind a Ferrari or even an F1 car.
Clearly, I’m infatuated with Giulia’s telepathic steering, but the powertrain team probably takes umbrage with me calling it this car’s best attribute.
And for good reason. The Quadrifoglio is motivated by three-quarters of a Ferrari V8. Two cylinders have been light-sabered off by Alfa’s engineering Jedis, leaving behind a 2.9-liter 90-degree V6, one that’s equipped with cylinder deactivation, direct injection and twin turbochargers that pump out 35 PSI of boost.
All that Italian magic gets you 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft torque, more than what the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s primary rivals can muster and in some cases, a lot more. In comparison, the M3 offers “just” 425 horses and 406 lb-ft of torque, though truth be told, according to manufacturer data, it’s only one-tenth of a second off the Alfa Romeo’s pace while sprinting to 60 miles an hour, doing the deed in a fleet 3.9 seconds when equipped with the available dual-clutch automatic transmission.
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Power delivery in the Quadrifoglio is immediate and silky smooth, without any hitches or hiccups. It’s amazingly creamy for a V6; I expected far more vibration. Not only that, but it sounds so good! Again, orders of magnitude better than anticipated. Copious praise must be heaped on the dual-mode exhaust system, which lets the engine make operatic music, trumpeted from quad tips.
Making good use of that giddy-up is an eight-speed automatic gearbox that sends torque to the rear wheels through a carbon fiber driveshaft and torque-vectoring differential. This combo can get you to 60 miles an hour in 3.8 seconds and provide a top speed of 191 miles an hour.
Yep, it’s insanely fast. Boot the accelerator and in an instant, you’re going 70 miles an hour in a school zone. Speed creeps up on you with alarming ease, partly because this car is so quiet and refined, but mostly because the engine loves to run, and hard.
The ZF-sourced gearbox is well behaved, shifting with the speed of a dual-clutch unit if you want it to or smoothly slurring between ratios on your commute home. There’s nothing to complain about here, except that a manual is not offered in America. According to Alfa, the take rate would have been too low so they didn’t to bother. Curses!
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Grip from the 19-inch, staggered-width racing-grade Pirelli tires far exceeds what you’d ever need on the street, likely at the expense of longevity. These gummy-soft rubbers probably won’t last long, especially if you drive this machine the way it was intended.
Robo-Binders, Chintzy Knobs
Though you don’t always have to hang the tail out. Alfa Romeo’s DNA Pro selector allows you to tailor the car’s feel to your mood. Dynamic mode sharpens the brake and steering feel, plus makes the engine and transmission more responsive. Natural is used for comfortable daily driving, while “A” stands for Advanced Efficiency, which enables cylinder deactivation for better fuel efficiency. Finally, there’s a Race setting that activates an overboost function, opens the two-mode exhaust, turns off stability control and sharpens the controls. I like this one best, there is one nagging issue. In order to fully enjoy the car’s aggressive exhaust tuning, it has to be in Race mode, which is far too stiff for Michigan roads and provides no electronic fallbacks should you exceed your driving capability.
It’s curious engineers didn’t include a discrete switch that enables the fun exhaust in gentler – and safer – drive modes. This is one addition that would be appreciated.
If you’re curious about fuel economy (and you really shouldn’t be in a car with more than 500 horses), expect 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on highway drives.
Another one of the Giulia’s minor missteps is its odd electro-mechanical braking system. Pedal effort changes in each driving mode, but they still feel unnatural, sometimes requiring a ton of pressure. Fortunately, stopping power is simply incredible, even with the base binders.
But if they’re not enough, you can opt for Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes with six-piston front calipers. They cost an extra $8,000 ($6,500 in Canada) and can likely rearrange your internal organs with a gentle tap of your foot.
Aside from the robo-binders, my only other complaints about the Giulia are found inside. The cabin is impressively premium with a flowing, organic design, which is a welcome departure from what Germany Inc. offers these days. The leather is soft, seats form fitting and space acceptable, both in steerage and storage.
But the various control knobs feel chintzy, loose and plasticky, ditto for the recalcitrant electronic gear selector. Beyond this, the infotainment system could be dramatically better. Chrysler’s own Uconnect arrangement is far superior. Why they didn’t just put it in this car is a real head-scratcher.
Another annoyance, the Giulia is equipped with self-centering control stalks. Click the turn indicator, for instance, and it springs back rather than staying where you put it, a behavior I hate. Centuries ago, engineers figured out how levers should operate; there was no need to reinvent the stalk wheel.
Finally, I have to lodge a complaint about the parking sensors. They beep when either end of the Giulia gets close to an obstacle, but curiously they keep making noise even when the car isn’t moving. It would be far more logical if these sensors were disabled, you know, when the vehicle is stopped and put in park. Every other car in memory operates in this way.
The Verdict: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review
FCA has every right to be proud of what they’ve built here. The Giulia is a beautiful midsize luxury sedan that can beat the world’s best. A few minor refinements could turn it into a true automotive icon.
A base Quadrifoglio starts at around $73,000, but our Montecarlo Blue test model example cost $77,195 including $1,595 in delivery fees ($89,995 in Canada, including $2,495 in delivery fees). Obviously, that’s a lot of money. Any number of much-cheaper cars could deliver similar speed, but I’d hazard to say none of them would feel quite as special, which makes this ultra-high-performance Alfa Romeo one of the most surprising products I’ve driven in years.
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