Test Drive

2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review: Wonderful, Tear-Shedding Perfezione

Love at first sight is possible. Of course she's Italian.

The Vulcano Black sedan pulled on to the driveway as any car does, only this one emitted something other than C02-filled exhaust fumes. More like soul and emotion. As the 2017 Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio was parked next to me, I had the sudden urge to drive the everlasting shit out of it for the next several days. I work hard for my paycheck. At this very moment, the all-new Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, or QV, is arriving in dealerships across the US.

It's the iconic Italian automaker’s latest effort to reestablish itself in North America. The first rebound effort was the 4C Coupe and Spider, hand-built, purist two-seat sports cars that cater to very specific buyers. But the Giulia sedan lineup is different, with three trim levels to choose from, but only the top-spec QV offers something no German brand does: an all-aluminum, Ferrari-derived 90-degree 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with 505 hp at 2,500 rpm and 443 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 to 5,500 rpm. It was developed specifically for the Giulia QV by Ferrari’s technical wizards and is related to the California T’s twin-turbo V8 but with two less cylinders.

Quick comparison: the Giulia QV cranks out more ponies than the BMW M3’s twin-turbo inline-six (444) and the twin-turbo V8 in the Mercedes-AMG C63 (469). Hit the gas and you’ll feel immediate throttle response along with the thunder-like rumble and lightning crackle of the dual mode quad exhaust system. Alfa Romeo claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds while top speed is supposedly around 191 mph, but I wasn’t ballsy enough to get the needle to reach the max on the 200 mph speedometer. I did manage 120 on a cop-less, undisclosed southeastern Michigan country road straightaway. Twice. All the while the ZF 8-speed automatic handled shifts smoothly and without hesitation.

Did I miss not having a six-speed manual, which is offered on Euro-spec Giulia QVs? Somewhat, but Alfa Romeo claims the US market take rate simply isn’t high enough to justify offering one. So it goes. What I did like about this transmission is that its large aluminum floppy paddle shifters, unlike in so many other cars, are actually effective in manual mode, but I honestly preferred letting the gearbox do all of the work, especially when driving around town. Braking can easily become a forward neck stretching exercise thanks to the optional $5,500 carbon ceramic Brembo brakes. Standard brakes are Brembo 4-wheel disc high-performance units.

Because black ice and snow are in abundance this time of year in the American Midwest, the Giulia QV wore a set of specially-developed Pirelli winter tires. Summer slicks could’ve ended in disaster for me, but it’s good to know they too are made by Pirelli specifically for the car. Unfortunately I wasn’t anywhere near a good canyon carving road where the brilliant suspension, with near 50/50 weight distribution, could function at its very best, but I made do with the section of planet Earth available. At no time did the suspension go harsh, regardless of whether or not I set the drive-mode dial to Race, which fully deactivates stability control.

Speaking of which, there are three additional settings, ever so conveniently with the DNA acronym: Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency. Obviously the driver’s seat is the best seat in the house, and from the very moment you enter it’s clear the Giulia QV is special. The optional carbon fiber steering wheel, with the integrated red start/stop engine button begging you to press it, is perfectly sized. There are generous portions of carbon-fiber interior accents and Alcantara trim, while the 8-way power front seats, adorned in black leather with red stitching, embrace your backside and provide excellent support.

Props must be given to Alfa Romeo for going with its own infotainment system instead of FCA’s Uconnect for the 8.8-inch main display screen. A car at this price point and status shouldn’t have a trace of anything from the FCA parts bin, an issue that bothered me immensely when I drove the Maserati Ghibli last summer. The 900-watt Harmon Kardon sound system with 14 speakers is a must-have option. Rear seat space is decent enough, but a couple of vertically challenged passengers noted a slight lack of legroom, an issue I really didn’t care much about. No Giulia QV driver would. There wasn’t a place traveled to where the car didn’t receive admiring stares and thumbs up.

Because it’s so new, not everyone knew what it was, but I was more than happy to tell and point out its carbon fiber roof, hood, rear spoiler and active aero front splitter. LED daytime running lights and taillights are standard. The overall exterior styling is spot-on, and I’ve determined it’s impossible to find a bad angle. The Giulia QV is both aggressive, partly thanks to its 19-inch wheels and stance, and sexy because, well, it’s Italian. Having the "Quadrifoglio" badge on the front fender and engine cover is a direct visual retort to BMW’s famed M emblem. For the record, the M3 has an overall problem here, and the Giulia QV’s base price isn’t dramatically higher, starting off at $72,000.

My nearly fully loaded Giulia QV came with $11,000 worth of extras for a total of $83,095. A comparatively equipped M3 runs for just under $90k. The new 2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio. It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful. It’s emotional. It inspires you to drive with complete confidence and pure, almost tear-shedding joy. It is an Alfa Romeo, and I couldn't get enough of it.

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