by Sebastian Cenizo
In this segment of compact luxury performance sedans, the automatic answer when asked what the best car is would be the BMW M3. Numerous competitors have used it as their benchmark, yet most have failed to equal or beat it. As we await the new M3, Alfa Romeo has what is genuinely an M3 beater: the Giulia Quadrifoglio. Powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, the feisty Italian produces an astonishing 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. While we sadly don't have the option of a manual transmission, the standard eight-speed auto is brilliant and capable of rocketing the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Against the Mercedes-AMG C63 - one of the only remaining contenders in lieu of the M3's absence - not only does the Giulia hold its own, but it's set the new benchmark for what a sports sedan really is.
A new 8.8-inch touchscreen display with SiriusXM offers better imagery and is now standard on the Giulia QV along with a seven-inch TFT driver info display. A Wi-Fi hotspot and remote access are standard too, along with available level two semi-autonomous driver aids and forward-collision warning. In terms of interior design, a new center console and a new steering wheel design are also offered, as well as three new paint options.
2.9-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
The Giulia is already a good-looking car, but with the QV, the aggression has been turned up. In addition to a carbon roof and hood, an active carbon front splitter and a vented hood help the QV look utterly menacing. Looking at the profile, a fender vent, that distinctive four-leaf clover badge, and a carbo rocker panel all sweep towards the trunk where a carbon fiber spoiler adds subtle style. A pronounced diffuser houses a quad-exit exhaust, while LED running lights and brake lights finish off the look of the body. On the road, 19-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber house large Brembo brakes.
The Giulia QV is beautifully proportioned and looks sleek from any angle. It measures 182.5 inches from nose to tail with a wheelbase between the hubs of 111 inches on the dot. Width is calculated at 73.7 inches with height at 56.1 inches. Thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber, the Giulia Quadrifoglio weighs just 3,806 lbs.
As standard, the Giulia Quadrifoglio comes in a ravishing red called Alfa Rosso. If you're willing to spend a little extra, a number of other choices are available too. These include Vulcano Black metallic, Vesuvio Gray metallic, Silverstone Gray metallic, Montecarlo Blue metallic, and Misano Blue metallic, each of which adds $600 to the build price. Two other options are also available at the considerable sum of $2,200 each. These are Rosso Competizione tri-coat and Trofeo White tri-coat. You can change the color of the brake calipers too, with no further impact on your wallet than $350, and you can choose from Gloss Black, Gloss Red, or Gloss Yellow. Various wheel options are available in either Bright or Dark finishes too.
The Giulia QV is powered by a Ferrari-derived 2.9-liter V6. With 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, the Giulia can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, even though it's a rear-wheel-drive monster. Keep going and the limit is reached at only 191 mph. It's no one-trick pony, however. With a clever suspension and a light body, the Giulia QV is fantastic in the corners too. Thanks to near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the Giulia QV is both agile and easy to control, meaning you can let it dance on the limit with ease, and when the rear starts to slide out, controlling a drift is as manageable as it is fun. It's not a perfect car, as the turbos do exhibit some lag below 3,000 rpm, but that makes it feel all the more raw and addictive. When the power comes in, the propulsion is stunning and the noises from the dual-mode exhaust are utterly savage. Even if the likes of the C63 and other German super sedans had the Giulia comprehensively beat, the sound of the Italian is simply inimitable.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is the range-topper in the lineup and the ultimate performance model for the time being. While a GTA model has been announced for 2021 with even more performance, we don't know if we'll get that model in the U.S. Nevertheless, the regular Giulia QV is still a magnificent beast that is unlikely to ever be described as underpowered. Its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 develops 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, no manual transmission is available, but the standard eight-speed automatic with its column-mounted shifters is an absolute delight that gets quicker and more explosive as you increase the aggression of the settings. Throttle response is, as mentioned earlier, rather weak below 3,000 rpm, but the feeling of jet-like thrust thereafter is worth waiting for and savoring. The lightness of the car plays a big role here, but even if we were to sandbag the Giulia, it would likely still be a stunning machine. And about those column-mounted shifters - some prefer paddles on the steering wheel for the ability to change gears mid-corner, but the usable torque once the boost kicks in is plenty and the paddles are sufficiently large milled aluminum pieces that are easy to grab even at partial lock. When you do pull back on one of the levers, the response is instant. If you want to take it easy, the transmission is impressively relaxed and smooth, thus making this one of the great all-rounders.
The Giulia was designed from the outset to be a machine with fine handling, with every model striving for that perfect 50/50 weight distribution. As a result, the Quadrifoglio has been gifted numerous carbon body panels in order to offset the weight of the larger engine. This careful planning and attention to detail have paid off, with a car that is agile, nimble, and every other adjective you can think of for something that dances lightly. The steering is quick, responsive, and direct. It's also full of gorgeous feel that communicates what the front tires are doing back to your hands. Coaxing the QV into a slide is not difficult, and once achieved, playing with the throttle allows for progressive changes in the angle that are easy to manage. The QV gets adaptive dampers too, and if you put it in Race mode, where the stability control is deactivated, everything firms up to contain body roll, yet you can still drive on normal roads without feeling your kidneys bounce. Not only is the chassis brilliant, but the suspension has been tuned perfectly, making this a joy to drive daily, as well as on the track. The brakes are the only let-down, as they are devoid of feel. The optional carbon ceramics will stop the car on a dime, but you have to put faith in them rather than let your foot tell you what's going on.
The Giulia is average in the gas mileage department, but some real-world tests have suggested that it can be more economical than the figures suggest. The EPA's results in tests have been 17/25/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. By comparison, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, with its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, returns figures of 18/27/21 mpg. With a 15.3-gallon gas tank, mixed range on the Alfa is expected to be around 306 miles.
The Giulia QV's interior is simple but elegant. A thin-rimmed steering wheel wrapped in leather greets you, as do seats with large bolsters. The interior is studded with high-quality materials, with leather, Alcantara, and carbon fiber among the favorites, although some cheaper plastics do make an appearance too. If you're a fan of the sixth element, more carbon can be had on the steering wheel. The dash is a sweeping piece of architecture while the paddle shifters are exquisite pieces of aluminum. The dash also features a new 8.8-inch touchscreen while the seven-inch TFT screen between the two main binnacles is configurable. As standard, heated seats are fitted up front, but you can get lightweight Sparco seats for a more racy vibe, too.
The Giulia seats five individuals, with the front occupants of the car getting 14-way power-adjustable seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and heating as standard. These seats allow for plenty of range in terms of suitable body types, but some may brush on the hefty bolsters when getting in and out. Those of a larger frame may also find the seats to be too confining, but in general, they are both supportive and comfortable and offer good thigh support too. The view out is also commanding, allowing you to kiss the apex of every turn with ease. In the back, headroom and legroom are less than adequate if you're over six feet tall, and the rear doors are a little too small for easy access.
As standard, the Giulia QV features black leather and Alcantara upholstery, with smatterings of aluminum and carbon fiber all around you. If you prefer toning down the level of darkness, you can add a vibrant red or a bright white through the dash and doors. Carbon-backed Sparco seats are available too, but these lose the standard heating elements. The seats themselves can be stitched with your choice of Dark Gray, Red, or White and Green thread. A carbon fiber steering wheel is also available for $400.
The Giulia QV is below average in terms of cargo space, with the trunk only offering around 12 cubic feet of volume. In addition, the opening is awkwardly bulbous, making loading a mission. However, you should still be able to carry luggage for a foursome's weekend away, so long as everyone packs light. The rear seats do allow for folding though, which increases practicality if you're traveling with fewer passengers.
In the cabin, things are similarly average, with narrow door pockets and a small glovebox. There is also a center armrest bin and you'll find a pair of cupholders in front of the gear lever.
The Giulia QV is rather well-equipped even in base form. You get a dual-mode exhaust, push-button start, an active front splitter, and adaptive dampers. In terms of more commonplace features, the Giulia QV gets 14-way power-adjustable front seats with heating as standard, along with dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, and heated mirrors. It's also equipped with hill start assist, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines and parking sensors, remote start, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking is also standard along with a seven-inch driver info display, while the options list includes heated rear seats, automatic high beams, wireless charging, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and adaptive cruise control.
For 2020, a new infotainment system is fitted to the Giulia. This 8.8-inch touchscreen unit supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio (with a 12-month subscription). It also features Bluetooth functionality and navigation. In addition to the touch capability, the system can be controlled via a rotary knob in the center console, or the redundant steering controls. For the most part, it works well, but some icons can be a little too small to accurately press on the screen while driving. Fortunately, they're easy to see thanks to overlapping from the dash that shades the screen. Audio output comes via 14 speakers from Harman Kardon too, making the sound quality brilliant and the experience highly immersive.
Thus far, the 2020 Giulia range as a whole has been free of recalls, but the 2019 model suffered two. It wouldn't be a real Alfa if it never had any issues, though, right? The first was in March of 2019 and pertained to the adaptive cruise control system that would fail to deactivate. The second came in July for a fuel gauge that may read higher than the actual level.
Alfa provides a four-year/50,000-mile basic and powertrain warranty along with four years of roadside assistance. You also get a 12-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion perforation warranty and complimentary scheduled maintenance for one year or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first.
No variant of the Giulia has been tested by the NHTSA, but with a large offering of safety equipment, it would likely fare well. This is confirmed by the IIHS awarding the Giulia their best overall score of Good.
As standard, the Alfa Giulia QV features a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, hill start assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. You also get eight airbags, including frontal and side-impact airbags. Available equipment includes adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode and stop-and-go functionality, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, and traffic sign recognition. Auto high beams are also available.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a flawed vehicle, with a troublesome trunk, sub-par interior space for rear passengers, and a brake setup that is less than perfect in terms of feel. In other cars, that can be a problem. In other, older Alfas, that would be what Alfisti refers to as character and charm, and it's a lack of perfection that makes an Alfa more rewarding in the areas that it excels. In this case, we can overlook the flaws, not because of some misguided passion or fanatical obsession, but because the rest of the car is so damn good. The steering is absolutely sublime. The engine sounds fantastic and provides incredible power and acceleration. The chassis is magnificent. The suspension is composed and supple. Essentially, this is the real M3 beater, and for once, Bavaria is on the back foot. There's a new benchmark, and it's from Italy.
Pricing for the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV starts at $74,445 before a $1,595 destination, but we played with the configurator to build the most expensive version possible in 2020 and our fully loaded figure came to $95,240, with as much carbon fiber as possible and all the most expensive options available.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a performance variant of the regular Giulia and sits alone at the top of the pecking order, at least until the GTA releases. It is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 191 mph. No manual transmission is available, but the eight-speed automatic is excellent. As standard, the interior features plenty of leather and Alcantara over the heated front seats and the rear seats that can be heated at a price. An 8.8-inch touchscreen display controls infotainment and sends output to a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, while the outside is characterized in part by 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, and Pirelli tires. Standard features include a dual-mode exhaust, variable drive modes, push-button start, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, navigation, and adaptive dampers. Options include various additional carbon fiber bits, wireless charging, Sparco racing seats, and adaptive cruise control.
As standard, you get heated front seats on the Giulia QV, but if you want to add the option to the rears, that will cost $350. A carbon fiber steering wheel is $400, but if you want the carbon-backed Sparco race seats for $3,500, none of the seats in the car will be heated. Wireless charging is a standalone option at $200, while other features are available in packages. These include an exterior carbon fiber package for $1,100 and a $2,000 Active Driver Assist package. This adds adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving, a driver attention alert system, auto high beams, an infrared windshield to reduce cabin heat, lane-keep assist, traffic jam assist, and traffic sign recognition.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia QV is an excellent piece of engineering brilliance in stock form and we wouldn't mess with it too much. Although the available Sparco seats are comfortable enough for daily use, you lose heating and can't option heated rear seats with the racing perches up front. Instead, we'd spend our money on the driver assists that come in a package. This takes nothing away from the comfort or capability of the QV while adding peace of mind and security for daily driving. If you can spare it, the exterior carbon accents that can be added certainly increase aggression and appeal. We'd also consider the Dark 5-Hole wheels at $500 as these look great, but the latter two suggestions in this section are subjective, so play around with the configurator for yourself and see what looks best for you.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has very few competitors these days, particularly since we don't have a 2020 BMW M3 to compare it to. One of the cars that has already been updated and is excellent is the Audi RS5 Sportback. It starts at a considerably higher price of $92,500, but its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 is paired to an all-wheel-drive system. It has a gorgeous interior with more high-quality materials than in the Giulia, and thanks to its Sportback hatchback-like cargo area, it can hold a lot more luggage; 21.8 cubic feet without the seats down is a massive improvement over the Alfa's estimated 12 cubes. On the downside, the engine only produces 444 hp although torque is identical to the Alfa's 443 lb-ft. It's also a lot less fun for the hooligan thanks to its point-and-shoot Quattro system. For us, the Audi RS5 Sportback is a brilliant car that can manage being a daily driver just as well as it can manage going fast, but the Giulia QV offers so much more in the way of raw thrills.
One of the cheapest luxury performance sedans here is the Mercedes-AMG C63, with a base price of $68,100. It has a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 469 hp, but if you opt for the C63 S, that gets pushed up to 503 hp with 516 lb-ft of torque. While the power figure closely matches that of the Alfa, the price tag in this format does too, with base pricing here starting at $75,700. The trunk is a similar size to that of the Alfa but the opening is easier to use. Inside, legroom and headroom are similar, with the Alfa offering slightly more of the latter. So which is better? Well, the Merc has numerous options for extreme levels of customization throughout the interior, and more high-tech options are available than in the Alfa. Essentially, the Merc is likely to be more luxurious and relaxing daily while still offering plenty of performance. Hardcore driving enthusiasts will prefer the Alfa, however, as its balance and agility are all but unrivaled.
Check out some informative Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio video reviews below.