During our 1,300-mile adventure, spanning two countries, multiple cities, and one Formula One race, there wasn’t a damn thing that went on the fritz. No infotainment irritation. No mechanical malfunctions. No fitment failures.
The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, against the stereotype, behaved like a regular car.
Except it’s not a regular car. It’s not even regular for the segment. This is because the Alfa benefits from its paisano relationship with Ferrari. In fact, it was even a special team of Ferrari engineers that spearheaded the development of the Giulia, and the imperative Giorgio platform. Underneath the hood of the Giulia QV is a Ferrari-derived engine.
Repeat: there’s a f****** Ferrari engine in this four-door sedan.
BMW is supposed to compete with this level of dynamism? Really?
Some of you may know of a man by the name of Philippe Krief. As its chief engineer, Krief gave us the Ferrari 458 Italia Speciale. And with orders from FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne himself, Krief hand-picked a team of 10, to develop the Giorgio Platform and its vehicles. The first of which is the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. The second is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Stelvio QV. Should the future hold true, we may see the Giorgio platform trickle into the likes of Dodge and Chrysler as the new Charger, Challenger and 300. Should the future hold.
It doesn’t just start and end with the engine. A look at the back reveals a rear diffuser that has never been seen in this segment before. Its pronounced fins sectioned between the equally unsubtle quad tail pipes were built with the sole purpose pulling the cars backside down to pavement like an Ionian riptide. The thinly spoked wheels reveal simply massive Brembo carbon ceramic rotors, measuring a stupendous 390 mm in the front and 360 mm in the rear. And the faithful will be able to spot the signature Alfa Romeo inverted triangular grille from 150 yards away. The swooping headlamps accentuate the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s wide stance, and the minimal overhangs contribute to a sharpened profile. Did we mention the segment-first automatically deployable front splitter? Drivers won’t really get to notice it, because it deploys in motion. And it’s carbon fiber. In fact, there’s carbon fiber everywhere. The hood, the roof, the spoiler, the side skirts, the driveshaft(!), the (optional) front seat frames… fibra di carbonio.
Anybody setting themselves within the cabin of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio for the first time will quickly realize the formal athleticism throughout. Aside from the carbon fiber framed performance seats, there’s a vibrant green/white contrast stitching, carbon paneling, and the most inspired steering wheel and instrument panel we’ve observed in anything with four doors. There are metal, column mounted shift paddles that dwarf most kitchen knives. The big-red-go button is mounted right one the wheel, like a Ferrari, and that’s not by accident.
Moving towards the electronics, the pragmatically named Alfa Romeo Information and Entertainment System utilizes a center-console-mounted rotary dial that controls the optional 8.8-inch infotainment screen. The dial could be tilted in each compass direction, flanked by a large Menu button on the left and an Option button to the right. These controls are supplemented by a separate radio control volume knob that also has the power to skip tracks or go back. Voice commands are also accounted for. There’s just a slight learning curve to it, but being able to rest the hand over the IES controls and pick up the muscle memory that’s quickly gained from a tactile knob quickly makes the experience seamless. However, the 2017 model-year Giulia family does not feature Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto, but will feature these traits for 2018.
Not everything is a dream, though. The electronic gear selector can’t hold a candle to the articulate paddle shifters, and the cupholder situation is unapologetically European, and not in a good way. Nevertheless, the interior of the Alfa Romeo sets new standards of energetic intent from all major components. Big paddles, a perfect steering wheel, a vibrant IP and the sexy go-button all contribute to its paisano panache.
Paisano panache is also flourishing from the powertrain. Paisano because it’s a Ferrari sedan without the prancing horse atop of the triangular grille in the front. The engine is a Ferrari V8 with two cylinders missing, displacing at 2.9-liters. And the soundtrack is nothing less than a mechanical interpretation of the Biscione growl before it swallows up cowering men as if they were mice. But that can only be unlocked in “Race” mode. Why there isn’t a simple button to open up those exhaust valves is one of those quirky head-scratchers that Alfa exhibits seemingly with every car they’ve ever offered. The 505-horsepower punch coming from that snarling 90-degree 2.9L twin-turbo V6 is also delivered in a building crescendo, up to its 7,250 rpm redline. The power builds and builds, all the way to the 7,250 rpm finale, where a swift flick of the massive upshift paddle directs the magnificent 8-speed transmission to swiftly claw into another gear. Sheer joy and satisfaction are guaranteed every time, even if it’s only available in automatic here in the States.
And about the brakes. They’re electronically controlled, rather than mechanically linking the pedal to the master cylinder. This is done by using a more compact and more digital module than what is typically seen. The module interprets how hard and quick the driver has pressed the pedal for every application. This saves weight (around 7-8 lbs) and cancels out the pulsing sensations. The one downside we’ve noticed was that the pedal feels what can be conventionally described as overboosted and wooden in low speeds. But drive Giulia with the gusto she deserves, and all’s well.
Alfa Romeo’s DNA driving modes offer varying flavors of spice, with “Race” highlighted red on the rotary dial as a bonus track. It’s the only mode where the exhaust is fully activated, so it’s the only mode the Giulia QV needs to be driven in. Race mode also gives the ride a supercar firmness, disengages the stop/start function, and overboosts the turbochargers to amplify throttle response (and erotic mechanical noises). For more pedestrian days, the Dynamic or Natural modes are impressively compliant, especially for how stiff Race mode is, though we’ll attest that every performance car should just default to its most intense setting.
Owners need to know what they’re dealing with. Giulia wants to go faster.
Okay, Giulia *does* want to go faster. But it’s not that simple. Because Giulia is unforgiving, and reactionary. She’s not like the German cars, or that lone Japanese one, or that certain American one, or even that English one. Those cars all want to start off slow, gently show you what they’re about, eventually build things up, and maybe end the evening with a handshake. Not the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde.
Giulia stares you in the face, and dares you. Hard.
Quickly, drivers will realize that it’s not about how they like it. It’s how Giulia likes it. It’s a dance. And Giulia is leading that dance. After enough trial and error, should one still be willing and able, one might find themselves with the lead (verb, not noun) foot, with Giulia following. Yet, it was never your dance, ever. It’s about how Giulia wants it, and how to not piss Giulia off. So in Race Mode – the correct mode – there’s a fine line between Giulia laughing at you with your trousers down, getting the dance just right, and/or getting slapped in protest. Despite the trial and error, it’s always worth it to get it just right.
The $72,000 Alfa Romeo Giulia QV is not a car for people with more money than talent. It’s for people with more talent than money. It’s rewarding, and exotic, and intoxicating. And if all other vehicles in the segment have left you numb and unsatisfied, the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV is your car.