We’ve spilled a lot of ink over Alfa’s top Giulia sedan, the blazing, 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio—from George Kacher’s first-ever drive in Europe way back in May 2016 to my own first-U.S. drive six months later to a weeklong drive by our Eric Weiner last summer.
So why am I posting yet another writeup now? Because the Quadrifoglio (aka QV) is simply one of the most evocative, most exhilarating, most grin-generating automobiles I’ve driven all year. A week piloting one in and around my hometown of Los Angeles only confirmed all the good vibes I picked up during my brief introduction to the car in Northern California a year ago.
The moment you first turn the steering wheel, you know you’re sitting in something different, something special. The QV boasts some of the quickest steering I’ve ever experienced in a road car. It’s almost go-kart quick, and that’s a very good thing. This Giulia wears its sporting pretensions right out front. It’s always ready to play, hungry to dive for the next apex. It never feels languid or bored or asleep. Drivers looking for vehicular calm should look elsewhere. The QV is as lively as a Labrador retriever puppy, and it will never let you just sit back and chill. Even just navigating city streets, the QV feels like it’s straining at the leash. In this Alfa, you’re gonna play. Always.
When I first drove the car around Sonoma Raceway a year ago, it was raining. Hard. Thus, I came away from my drive with no good feel for the QV’s handling limits or cornering prowess. This time, though, my favorite mountain byways near Malibu were bone dry—and the QV proved every bit the stormer I’d assumed it would be. In concert with the ultra-quick steering, the firm ride and meaty Pirelli performance tires (245/35ZR19s in front, 285/30ZR19s in back) helped deliver huge gobs of stick and cornering response. Understeer is almost nonexistent (credit a torque-vectoring rear diff), and even with the Pro Drive Mode selector set to Dynamic (the second-liveliest setting) it’s possible to prod the rear end out—thanks to the balance of the car and the engine’s massive output. Switch into Race (no stability controls) and the QV can quickly be a handful when pushing hard. That mode is best reserved for the track. Sideways and public roads don’t mix.
My test car included the optional carbon-ceramic Brembos ($5,500). As I noted in Sonoma, they’re on the touchy side—you need a delicate foot to keep the nose from taking a dive—but they’re enormously powerful. I hammered up and down through some of SoCal’s best squiggly asphalt, and the binders remained fully on duty the entire time. The Giulia QV stops as well as a Porsche, and that’s saying a lot, especially given its near-two-ton curb weight.
You need great brakes in a sports sedan like this because, wow, the QV runs like the IRS is after it. The twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-6 under the hood is Ferrari-sourced, essentially the 488GTB’s V-8 minus two cylinders. Specific output is a phenomenal 174 horsepower per liter; the little six punches way above its weight class. Alfa claims a 0-to-60-mph time of just 3.8 seconds, and I have no reason to doubt that figure. There’s little turbo lag; squeeze the throttle, the mill builds boost fast, and then—bam!—you’re screaming toward the next corner in a furious rush of Rosso Competizione paint ($2,200) and howling quad exhausts. This Alfa defines the word “electrifying.”
The icing on this Italian torta is the eight-speed automatic shifter. When I first saw the Giulia QV, I was surprised and disappointed that it lacked a dual-clutch transmission. But then I tried the paddle-shift eight-speed—and became an instant convert. This unit can click off gear changes in just 100 milliseconds, so it’s a slushbox in name only. Hurling through the two-lanes around Malibu, the eight-speed was a brilliant dance partner, delivering instant shifts up or down any time I banged onto one of the big paddles. In Dynamic the upshifts come hard enough that you feel a bang! in your backside. It’s a thrilling, track car-like experience—ferocious engine, split-second turn-in, lightning shifts, stupendous braking, massive cornering power. When you finally slow down, it feels like you’ve just spent the past ten minutes bouncing around inside an industrial laundry dryer. The QV delivers a workout around every degree of the friction circle.
Yes, it’s unfailingly playful, but the Giulia QV is no bare-bones sporting rig. The cockpit is a feast of standard leather and carbon-fiber trim, within which you’ll find such amenities as a rear backup camera, keyless entry and start, an 8.8-inch color display with nav, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The car is awash in carbon fiber elsewhere, too—including the roof, hood, front and rear splitters, and an optional carbon-fiber steering wheel ($400). My tester also included a driver-assistance package ($1,200) with a bunch of active safety systems, plus a Harman Kardon premium audio system ($900).
Almost $85,000 all-in isn’t chump change, but the Guilia QV rewards that investment with a driving experience that’s unique in its segment. Nothing else drives with the immediacy and zesty Italian flavor of this Alfa sedan.
You can bet another one of us is going to spend some more quality time in a Guila QV at the first opportunity.
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio RWD Specifications
|PRICE||$73,595/$84,295 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.9L twin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/505 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||17/24 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||182.6 x 73.7 x 56.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.8 sec|
|TOP SPEED||191 mph|