Not quite the underdog story we were expecting.
There's a reason why it's hard to find a bad review of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and it's that FCA's newest sedan is simply a great car. Just like the BMW M3 came in and swept the world off its feet by offering zero compromise between performance, sedan utility, and German luxury, Alfa Romeo has bridged the gap by offering the best of what Italian cars have to offer with none of the associated downsides. Here are the five reasons we found the Giulia QV to be so great after our week with the car.
While Italy and reliability may not be synonymous, style is one of the country's biggest exports, and whether you like its looks or not, there's no denying that the Giulia offers one of the most striking designs offered on American roads. Pictures do as much justice as they can, but during our week with the car, few pleasures were greater than coming up to the parked Alfa Romeo and stopping for a minute to just look at it. Onlookers couldn't get enough of it either, with neighbors invading our driveway for photo ops and passing folk sending us grins and erected thumbs wherever we went. Oh and those moments of pleasure we got when not looking at the car? They all happened behind the wheel.
That's because Giulia has mastered two of the most important things when building a good car: chassis and steering dynamics. The Giorgio platform that underpins the Giulia was developed with help from Ferrari engineers, costing FCA $1 billion. But every penny it took to pull off that stunt was worth it because the car feels so stable, advertising when the limits are near in a high speed corner without having a spontaneous bipolar meltdown yet coasting with ease under a relaxed throttle. The level of control felt through the carbon fiber steering wheel gave infinite confidence when accosting corners and the cumulative effect was feeling like a conductor of the world's finest symphony, albeit one with four wheels and a Ferrari-derived engine.
Speaking of the engine, the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 is simply sublime, both in operation and in sound. Turbo lag is present, but once the engine has its breath poured into it, it'll spout an increasing number of lightning bolts from the rear tires and thunder from the exhaust, that is if all thunder was emitted from Luciano Pavarotti's throat. Just when you thought the experience couldn't get any better, reach for the massive metal shift paddle on the right to unleash a whip-crack upshift, which emits a pop and starts the drama all over again. Even without Giorgio or its flat-bottomed carbon fiber controller, corners are exciting life moments thanks to the downshifts that precede them. Combined, these serve to fill any road with Italian drama.
Impressively, the Giulia's track hardware, which includes an active carbon fiber front splitter resting under a carbon fiber hood, doesn't hinder the drive in the city. Lurching brakes at low speeds are a symptom of the brake by wire system, but like any of the Alfa's other offenses, it can be forgiven by the fact that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Despite being a sports car, occupants are still privy to heated seats and a heated steering wheel, a luxurious interior, and all the utility one would seek in a four door sedan. Parents thinking that kids meant the end of track days and fun driving can now bite their lips at being proven wrong while they try hard not to empty their kid's college savings account.
In its segment, the Giulia QV is the most exciting, the fastest around a track, arguably the better driver's car, and the sports sedan with the highest cool factor, but it's the car's Italian flair that makes it most appealing. The noise, style, its quirks, and its character all have the charisma a Ferrari buyer looks for although toned down to keep it at a reasonable cost. The Giulia QV could have turned out a million ways, a good-looking car but a mediocre performer, an acceptable but non-standout sports sedan, or an above average underdog that surprises the competition with a sucker punch. We're happy FCA turned up with the latter option, the only issue is that now we feel the urge to scrounge up $80,000. Donations, anyone?