From Le Mans to Formula 1, the Mille Miglia and the European Touring Car Championship, Alfa Romeo has won the lot and is one of the most storied marques in the automotive world. In 1911 it entered the Targa Floria endurance competition having only been founded the previous year. Born to race? No doubt about it, and ever since inception, it’s been producing road cars that carry that racing DNA — not to mention some of finest looking models ever such as the Tipo 33 Stradale, the Montreal, GTV6 and the 8C Competizione each adorned with that iconic triangular grille. The Italians know how to pull at the heart strings and it’s why enthusiasts love the brand so dearly. There aren’t many carmakers that inspire such unwavering loyalty as Alfa does. But what about reliability? Don’t even go there — however, even this adds to its allure and charm but Alfa had lost its way and began neglecting its sporting values that made it what it is. In fact, it’s been 25 years since it had a rear-wheel drive saloon in the lineup (the 75) but all that has changed, and how with this Giulia Quadrifoglio. Basically, this is as close as we’ll get to experiencing what a four-door Ferrari would be like; it’s blisteringly fast, remarkably agile, and blessed with striking good looks and will give the Germans a real run for their money.
Under that purposeful bonnet resides a 510 horsepower 2.9-litre turbocharged six-cylinder that has been inspired by the expertise and technology of Maranello. It packs 600Nm of torque and can propel the Alfa from 0 to 100kph in a mere 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 307kph. A lairy ‘Race’ mode switches off all the electronic driver assistance systems and if you want an exhilarating driving experience, look no further than this. The M3 and C63 just got another rival to contend with and this one means business. Forget the technical specs — a quick glance at the exterior tells you that the Teutons ought to be worried. The standard Giulia is already an attractive proposition but the Quadrifoglio takes things a step further, bringing a heavy dose of aggression and muscle to proceedings. Below the piercing LED headlights, it gets larger air intakes, small vents in the front wings, a subtle carbon fibre spoiler at the back and a massive diffuser that houses a quartet of tail pipes. It rides on 19in alloys and our tester looks ever so menacing finished in that glossy black paint. The driver focused cabin is just as impressive; it has lots of leather, carbon fibre and wood trim, the front seats are very well bolstered and hold you in place when you start to fling it around and it even has generous head room at the front and even in the back due to the attractive domed roof. As for the infotainment system — controlled by a Rotary Pad and featuring a TFT 8.8in display integrated in the dashboard — it isn’t as good as what BMW, Mercedes or Audi has to offer but that said, it has everything you really need but the sat-nav graphics aren’t the sharpest and connecting your phone via Bluetooth is often hit or miss but once you’re connected the sound is clear.
Coupled with a snarling exhaust note, immediate throttle response, and a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, this Alfa is an absolute thrill a minute.
But, none of this matters to keen drivers. What’s far more appealing is prodding the red starter button on the three-spoke steering and listening to V6 erupt into life. Coupled with a snarling exhaust note, immediate throttle response, and a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, this Alfa is an absolute thrill a minute. The multi-link suspension is tuned to deliver a planted ride and even though it’s stiff and doesn’t have any noticeable roll, it’s comfortable too when you’re just cruising along without your teeth clenched. Much of this is to do with the Chassis Domain Control (CDC) which acts like the car’s ‘brains’ and coordinates all the onboard electronics such as the Torque Vectoring, Active Aero Splitter, active suspensions and ESC. The well weighted and ultra quick steering (it has a 11.8:1 ratio) makes its presence felt when you turn into a corner, pointing the Alfa’s front end towards the apex with laser sharp accuracy but best of all is its rear-wheel drive balance which is best felt in the aforementioned Race mode which should really be called Drift mode. It has the best driving dynamics in its class. A quick word on the stoppers; they befit a proper sports machine, responding to increased pressure and are designed to brake from 100kph to 0 in less than 32 metres which is good to know when you’re working that turbocharged Ferrari-derived V6 and suddenly have to throw over the anchor. Indeed, its stopping power is just as impressive as its ability to rein in the horizon when you bury the throttle. There’s no lag at all, while the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic can be controlled via the two column-mounted metal shift paddles; they’re huge too which is good as they’re always where you’d expect them to be and this makes slapping them up or down easy.
Overall, the Giulia Quadrifoglio looks fabulous, has pace to burn and a tremendous chassis to boot. Will it have disappointing reliability? You’d almost hope it does. It’s an Alfa Romeo after all. And this one is sublime.