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REVIEW – Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio


Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo 510PS Quadrifoglio
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.5

Summary

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a serious machine; capable of over 190mph. The 510PS, rear-wheel drive setup means this can be an utter hooligan at times, while the well-balanced chassis and 50:50 weight distribution means it doesn’t have to be. Updated interior is a much-needed improvement over the old car, but it could still go a bit further to match rivals. A worthy alternative to a BMW M3 nonetheless.


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Exterior Styling

It may be an age-old cliché, but you simply cannot match an Italian car marker for an air of stylishness. And of all the car makers, it is often Alfa Romeo where this style makes cars tug at your heartstrings. Even when reliability was virtually non-existent, and cars would rust in a matter of hours if exposed to even a light mist, many still bought them just because of how they looked.

Thankfully the reliability and build quality issues are a thing of the past. But the beauty remains. And for me the Giulia Quadrifoglio is one of the best-looking Alfas of all time. Bold claim, I know.

The proportions are just spot on. It is curvaceous and sleek, with bulges in all the right places. It looks good from every angle and its kerb appeal is off the charts.

At the front there is the distinctive triangular grille. The triangular shape is further emphasised by ridges on the bonnet, which incorporate air vents to let the bi-turbo V6 dissipate heat.

To the side there are sweeping lines from the front arch, and some sleek side skirts. 19-inch wheels have an open design, allowing you an easy view of the Brembo braking system. Tyre profiles are 45/35 R19 at the front and 285/30 R19 at the rear. Part of me wondered whether Alfa could have made the rear wheel an inch bigger, to further the aggressive stance of this car.

At the back you are drawn to the boot lip spoiler, in contrasting carbon fibre. There is a large rear diffuser and a quad exhausts system which is angled to match the curvature of the bumper. Arguably this is the best view, and to be fair it’s all most other motorists will get to see.

Interior Finish

It was the cabin quality that let the Giulia Quadrifoglio down first time around. It just didn’t have the fit and finish that is to be expected on a car in this price range. And because the Alfa Romeo is talked about in the same breath as the BMW M3, dodgy trim just isn’t going to cut it.

Thankfully Alfa Romeo realised this, and has updated the cabin on this latest Giulia Quadrifoglio. There is, overall, a much better feel than before. Most notable is the new gear shifter, which is now clad in leather with contrast stitching, and the infotainment dial, which feels much more robust than its flimsy predecessor.

That’s not to say that Alfa Romeo couldn’t have gone a little bit further. The instrument cluster is the biggest missed opportunity – a fully-digital one with several Quadrifoglio-specific displays would have elevated the cabin immensely. There is no ambient lighting as standard, and more extensive use of alcantara would have given a more racing feel.

But there is a lot to like about the Giulia’s cabin. The standard seats are deeply bucketed with ample bolstering, though you can still opt for a Sparco Carbonshell if you prefer. The engine start button located on the flat-bottomed steering wheel is a lovely touch, as are the oversized aluminium gear shift paddles.

The sweeping dashboard is clad in a soft-touch leather with contrasting stitching, and there is more carbon detailing than before; on the centre console, dashboard and door cards.

The infotainment screen is neatly incorporated into the dashboard, although it does look a little on the small side. The switchgear in general feels robust, and you certainly feel like you’re in a car with a £70k price tag now. Unfortunately, it just isn’t quite as good as a BMW M3.

Engine/Performance

There’s a saying that “if something isn’t broke, then don’t fix it” and that’s exactly the approach Alfa Romeo has taken in the engine department with the revised Giulia Quadrifoglio.

It has the same engine as before, and it is a beauty. The 2.9-litre, bi-turbo V6 is rumoured to be a Ferrari V8 with two cylinders chopped off the end. I say rumoured, it’s all but considered a fact. Alfa Romeo has never confirmed this officially, but equally has not denied it either… take from that what you will.

If you’re playing a game of Top Trumps, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a good card to have. Headline figures are 510PS, 600Nm of torque. Sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox it will go from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 191mph.

Drive mode is selectable via the Alfa D.N.A. selector, being Dynamic, Normal and All-weather. For the Quadrifoglio also gets a Race mode, which sets the car up for track use. But it’s in this most dialled-in setting where those quad exhausts really come to life. The V6 barks and shouts as you stab the loud pedal, and will have you grinning in no time.

That’s with the standard exhaust too. I can only imagine how good the optional Akrapovic exhaust system sounds. In fact, that seems a good excuse to get Alfa Romeo to give me another test car…

The Giulia Quadrifoglio is most satisfying to drive in manual mode. There are two elongated gear shift paddles behind the steering wheel, which are fixed in place so you still know which is up and down irrespective of where the wheel is. In Race mode shifts are quicker, and noticeably punchy. It puts you right in the centre of the action.

Ride/Handling

Considering that this car has quite a lot in common with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, they feel totally different from behind the wheel.

There is no doubting that the Q4 all-wheel drive system in the Stelvio allows you to put more of its power down, more often. But it just doesn’t offer the same purity as you get with the Giulia.

Everything about this car is just designed to make it outstanding to drive. It has near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution, and in a front-engined, rear-drive car that makes for perfectly balanced, predictable drive.

You can feel what the rear tyres are going to do; when they have grip and when they are reaching their limits. Even in Race mode, where the stability control is set to ‘off’, the Alfa doesn’t turn into an un-drivable maniac. It is progressive and communicative in how the back end behaves. Sure, if you got the Giulia Quadrifoglio on a track you could have some ridiculous drifts on the go, but it can still be civil on the road even in its most-hardcore setting.

The brakes are a high-power Brembo setup, with 6-piston calipers at the front and 4-piston calipers at the rear.

The steering is nicely weighted and direct. With none of the drive to worry about they can focus on their job of turning. Coupled with a limited-slip differential and torque vectoring, the Giulia turns in instantly, and sharply. Point the nose where you want it and it will go.

Suspension changes noticeably across three damping settings – Soft, Mid and Firm correspond to Normal, Dynamic and Race drive modes respectively. You can knock the damping back a setting, e.g. from Firm to Mid in Race mode, but we would still like to see a bit more customisation available in the drive characteristics.

Economy

When it comes to running costs a 510PS, bi-turbo V6 is never going to do you any favours. It probably comes as no surprise, therefore, to find out that the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a thirsty thing.

Combined fuel consumption is 28.0mpg on the WLTP cycle, but you’d have to taking it pretty easy to see this kind of figure. Drive the Giulia in the way it implores you to, and you can expect a return of 20-ish. Still, for a 191mph car that weighs 1,620kg it’s still not that bad.

CO2 emissions, again on the WLTP cycle, are 228g/km which makes little difference in the grand scheme of things. The first-year VED is a hefty £1,910, but this is absorbed into the purchase price. Future years are at the standard rate, currently £155, and also subject to the VED Surcharge of £335 in years 2 to 6.

Given that any rivals are going to cost more than £40,000 and be subject to said surcharge, there is no splitting the Giulia from its competition. For what it’s worth, the WLTP combined consumption of a BMW M3 Competition is 27.7mpg so, yet again, it’s a pretty fair fight.

Practicality

The German super saloons have set benchmarks for practicality. The BMW M5 was always a businessman, in a three-piece suit, but with running shoes on. It could hold its own in the corporate world and then run the 100m in sub-10 seconds. In other words, it does it all.

You get the same concept of well-roundedness with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Yes, it looks much more aggressive than the standard car, but that doesn’t impact use in the real world.

There is plenty of space in the cabin, and the outer rear seats are fine for adults. Even with the standard, bulkier sports seats (the Sparco Carbonshell options have a slimmer back) there is plenty of legroom. The 4-door configuration makes it easy to get in and out of, too.

Boot space is a rather generous 480-litres. It’s no coincidence that the BMW M3 also offers 480-litres; Alfa knows where its market is. The saloon bodyshape means that the opening is somewhat limited, but you’ll still be fine with suitcases and the like.

One aspect that is noticeable on this high-performance model is that there are some unusual traits when not being a hooligan. At slow speeds, there is a sort of grabbing sensation from the front wheels, like they are catching something. And the long gear paddles may be a godsend on the track, but they can be a nuisance when trying to operate the indicator and wiper stalks.

But niggles aside, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is an easy car to live with. It cruises comfortably on the motorway, and in Normal mode it is comfortable and refined. It isn’t a shouting lunatic all the time, which makes it better for everyday life.

Equipment

Since the Quadrifoglio is the flagship of the Giulia line-up, it is specified as such. There are some optional extras, however the standard specification is more than enough to live with. That leaves many of the extras down to personalisation touches, which is nice.

The Giulia Quadrifoglio benefits from a full aero pack, including the rear diffuser, sports bumpers, sports grille, quad exhaust and 19-inch alloy wheels. The standard colour is ‘Alfa Red’, with several others available at extra cost.

Some of the technology that is standard on the Quadrifoglio model includes Active Aero, Active Suspension, Active Torque Vectoring, Chassis Domain Control, Alfa D.N.A. Pro with Race Mode and, most importantly, a red starter button on the steering wheel. All of this helps the Giulia Quadrifoglio be one of the most competent – yet playful – handling cars out there.

When you have a car capable of 191mph, safety is paramount. The Giulia Quadrifoglio scores the maximum 5-stars in the Euro NCAP testing, helped by Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition, Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning; all included as standard

For an additional £1,000 the Driver Assistance Pack Plus adds Active Cruise Control, active blind spot, driver attention alert, lane keep assist, traffic jam assist and intelligent speed control.

Infotainment comes in the form of a 7-inch TFT with satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s a wireless charging pad, and you can add a Harmon/Kardon sound theatre, complete with 15 speakers and ambient lighting, for £950.

Where the Giulia feels a little bit behind some rivals is the ability to customise the powertrain – being able to tweak the driving and handling dynamics would elevate this car to a new level. As would a digital instrument cluster with performance displays.

Value For Money

The question of ‘value for money’ is an interesting one where the Giulia Quadrifoglio is concerned. For starters, spending nigh-on £70,000 on an Alfa Romeo is enough to make anyone nervous. But that needn’t be the case.

It’s widely documented by the motoring press that this car is a serious one. It is not some tarted-up saloon with a few flaired body panels. It has a brilliant engine, huge performance and all the uprated mechanical gubbins required in a proper performance vehicle.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Giulia Quadrifoglio is often touted as a viable alternative to the BMW M3; and rightly so. Whilst the Alfa starts at £68,055 on the road, an M3 Competition – which is the only model currently available in the UK – starts at £74,250 on the road. And let’s be honest, I don’t think there will be many who will argue the German looks better…

That being said, there is possibly a greater certainty around residual values with the BMW, and there is a potential that the Giulia Quadrifoglio could see higher depreciation offset that cheaper ‘new’ price.

Some of the options can get costly, too. Carbon ceramic brakes, for example, cost £6,000. Sparco Carbonshell front seats are £3,250, as is the Akrapovic Sports Exhaust (I mean, you would; wouldn’t you!?).

These can add up and take the price of a Giulia Quadrifoglio north of £80,000. But then the same is true of the BMW: carbon ceramic brakes on that are £7,995 as an example.

So overall then, the Alfa Romeo makes a great case for itself. The driving dynamics are sufficient to make the BMW M3 keep an eye over its shoulder. And the exterior styling of this Italian beauty blows it away. Definitely one to consider if you’re after a super saloon.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.9-litre, bi-turbo V6 petrol
Max power 510PS at 6,500rpm
Max torque 600Nm at 2,500rpm
Drivetrain 8-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph 3.9 seconds
Top speed 191mph
Fuel tank size 58 litres
Fuel consumption 28.0 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 228 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,620kg
Towing capacity N/A braked / N/A unbraked
Luggage capacity 480 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £68,055
Price as tested £72,455
Company website www.alfaromeo.co.uk/models/quadrifoglio/giulia-quadrifoglio

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