Do you remember what Alfa Romeo used to be?
90 years ago, they ruled the auto racing world. These red machines sent the finest drivers of the 1920s and 1930s into many championships. An Alfa Romeo stood for motorsports excellence at its finest hour.
That reputation continued through the turmoil of World War II and the struggle to rebuild after the conflict was over. Alfa Romeo emerged gloriously with iconic cars for the ages. The Spider gave two occupants a ride through the sunny days—not to mention a starring spot in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman behind the wheel. The GTV was a beautifully designed 2+2 coupe that commanded the road ahead wherever it went.
As time marked change, Alfa Romeo was a fading star in America. Its last products never captured the essence of the past. By the mid-1990s, the Milanese automaker was gone from our shores. Only the few who appreciate the beauty of an Alfa Romeo kept some of its finest running since then.
Now, Alfa Romeo is back. Not just with a one-off car, but with a lineup of three vehicles, all thanks to the moves made by Sergio Marchionne and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to return Alfa Romeo to the mantle of automotive lore.
The 4C was a special vehicle, a two-seat coupe and roadster that offered a visceral experience for the enthusiast. To play in today’s premium automotive sandbox, you must present a vehicle that will compete—and pulverize—the popular (read: German) offerings out there.
The competition piece arrived in the Giulia sports sedan. Just like its predecessors, it is distinctly beautiful. It is made with a balanced platform and superb power. It was indeed a modern Alfa Romeo for today’s discriminating premium car buyer. In fact, it earned this year’s Motor Trend Car of The Year.
To pulverize the competition, you must come up with something more special. Something with serious firepower.
Enter Ferrari. They just happen to be part of the Fiat side of the FCA family—though some may just say they’re distant cousins removed via Marchionne. Ferrari developed a V6 engine to put under the hood of the Giulia to provide serious firepower. To do so, they added two turbochargers. The result is a 505-horsepower sedan that has become the object and many enthusiasts’ desire.
What we got was the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
In Italian, Quadrifoglio (pronounced: quaw-drih-fo-lio) is a four-leaf clover. It is a lucky symbol. In fact, the same four-leaf clover appeared on many of Alfa Romeo’s champion cars since the 1920s. Today, the lucky clover means that something wicked lies underneath its hood.
That engine is a Ferrari-developed 2.9-liter V6 with two turbochargers. As we stated earlier, this puts out 505 horsepower. This is a monster, plain and simple. You can probably imagine how quick this car can be and how well it will run beyond posted speed limits—not that we encourage such behavior. In all, it is a magnificent motor.
To get an idea why this Giulia Quadrifoglio is such a big deal, Alfa Romeo ran a couple of tests to prove it as such. They ran a 0-60 MPH sprint in just 3.8 seconds. They also ran the Giulia Quadrifoglio at the Nürburgring, the famed German motorsports venue along its Nordschleife course, in a time of 7 minutes, 32 seconds. This is a record for a four-door sports sedan at the time.
An eight-speed automatic developed by ZF throws this wall of power to its rear wheels. We have a proper sports sedan with a perfectly balanced 50/50 weight distribution. This latter fact is felt when we drove it as it delivered on superb handling, sharp and exact steering, and commanding brakes.
The handling is what you would expect from a sports sedan. It delivers on every turn and corner with near-flat response. To achieve this, you must set the Giulia Quadrifoglio into Dynamic mode from its D-N-A knob on the console. Dynamic mode also firms up the suspension for a tighter ride. It is not for one who wants a comfortable ride. You can achieve a relatively comfortable ride by switching the knob to either Natural or All-Weather mode.
Sticking with Dynamic mode, the weight of the steering system is heavier for better control of the wheel. The system still works in other modes, but the weight will be lighter at the wheel. The D-N-A system does not affect brakes, which is a very good thing. Our tester came with extremely large Brembo carbon ceramic discs on all four wheels. We wished for a more direct feel through the brake-by-wire system and some of its components to feel the power of the large red calipers and huge rotors to see how much stopping power they truly offer. Yet, we were impressed with how they worked in normal and panic situations.
One mode we did not test out in the D-N-A system was Race mode. It is because we never took it to a track to find out hardcore Race mode would be. We can only imagine… and dream…
One thing you might be curious about is fuel economy. Our Giulia Quadrifoglio did return an average of 20.3 MPG in our care.
Though the focus of the Giulia Quadrifoglio is its driving experience, there is plenty more to talk about. For example, its stylish exterior. There are a lot of classic shapes that embody the Giulia, from its historic triangle grille to its curves all the way to the modern rear end. On the fenders are two badges that are from the past—the Quadrifoglio itself. The doors may seem small, but they fit within its historical quirks of what an Alfa Romeo embodies.
Within this classic shape are modern touches. Select the Quadrifoglio, and there will be more carbon fiber to look at—and feel. Because of the extensive use of carbon fiber, the car is very light. You can feel it wherever it is present, including the lightweight hood and the active front splitter. Modern headlamps are slim, befitting the shape and arrogance of the Giulia. The finishing touch is the available 19-inch dark-toned five-hole wheels wearing Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires.
In our tester, we saw more carbon fiber inside the cabin. The optional Sparco racing seats are set in a carbon fiber shell, allowing for only an electric adjustment on seat height. You can manually set for rake and recline. For some, the leather and Alcantara seats will lock you in for the ride of your life. For others, they can be quite uncomfortable. The standard seats are more forgiving, but still with more than enough bolstering to keep you secure behind the wheel. No matter which front seats you select, the rear seats still offer the same leather/Alcantara upholstery with better comfort. Rear seat room is fine for average-sized adults.
The driver has also a mix of classic and modern touches for instrumentation and controls. The dual dial instrument binnacle is bridged by a large modern TFT information screen. Switchgear is also modern all around, including the shift-by-wire transmission lever, the climate and stalk controls. Alfa’s quirks appear on some controls, but a quick review of the owner’s manual will help in deciphering a few of them in no time.
Unlike most of its fellow Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicles, Alfa Romeo went with their proprietary infotainment system. Once you understand how to use the large control knob, along with the adjacent volume knob and steering wheel controls, it is simply OK. Voice commands do work, as well. Sound comes from a Harman Kardon speaker system, which makes great work on reproducing music and broadcasts. New for 2018 is the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to the system.
Our tester came with a package full of driver assistance tech, including lane change warning, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning among key features.
As far as how much one of these beauties cost, the base price of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is $73,700. Our tester came with a sticker price of $91,095. There are five other Giulia models available—two base trims and three for the luxurious Ti model—all with the excellent 280-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. These four-cylinder powered Giulias start from $38,195.
For today’s discriminating driver, this Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio combines the past with the present. It is also a superlative with massive power pulling a lighter sports sedan through the curves and down the highway. The Giulia Quadrifoglio combines Alfa Romeo’s past and today’s demands for performance sedan drivers.