Handing the keys back was nothing short of heartbreaking.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a very special car. Whether you’re looking at, listening to or driving the hell out of the red-hot Italian, there’s an instant, powerful attraction. It’s love at first sight. Cars that have the ability to bewitch those in its presence are rare. Ferrari is the master at creating these, which is doubtless why when Sergio Marchionne ordered the 159’s replacement, he turned to Philippe Krief who was fresh from tuning the chassis of the 458 Speciale.
The Ferrari engineer was given a little over two years and a ten-man crack skunkworks team to build the new Alfa. “The closest you can get to a four-door Ferrari” is a phrase that’s been bandied about since the car’s launch in 2015. And that’s because it’s true. There’s no hyperbole in that statement. The Giulia QV is beautifully proportioned, with immense road presence. The fact the top-trim Giulia was built before the stock model is why it looks so much better than its super sedan rivals. Whether meandering through London traffic or when parked up at Goodwood, people couldn’t stop snapping it. And then there’s the engine.
At the heart of the QV is a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with 503 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Alfa insists, and we have no reason to doubt its veracity, that the all-aluminum powerplant was a ground-up build. Others claim the engine is essentially the V8 from the 488 GTB with a couple of cylinders lobbed off. Either way, it is magnificent. Especially when the drive mode selector is placed in Race. This is when the QV comes alive. The engine is audible at all times, and when you get a stretch of empty road the quad exhausts emit a fearsome growl, popping and exploding as the superb eight-speed ZF auto box switches through the gears. For added satisfaction, the aluminum paddle shifters are a treat to use.
The US doesn’t get the no-cost optional manual, but the automatic is the better choice according to everyone that’s tested both. The Alfa DNA Pro system is arguably the QV’s most appealing feature. There’s minimal difference between the softest modes. Advanced Efficiency deactivates engine cylinders, ideal for when heavy traffic eliminates any potential for fun, while Natural Mode provides a relatively comfortable ride with smooth shifts. The ride feels hard whatever the mode, however, a constant reminder that you’re driving a bit of an animal with supercar pedigree. Dynamic mode provides a taste of the QV’s full potential, with later shifts when hard on the accelerator, and more response from the steering and brakes.
But once you discover Race, trust me, there will be no turning back. At every opportunity, I found my left hand reaching for the controller, making the quarter turn from ‘D’ to ‘Race.’ Instantly, the QV sharpens up. Growling, up on its toes, responsive to the slightest of accelerator inputs, with heavier, more precise steering. Traction control is now off. But don’t worry, the grip and traction on this car are epic. The QV behaves and sounds like a race car, while the thin steering wheel, elegantly finished in carbon fiber, Alcantara, and leather, coupled with the beautifully crafted carbon-fiber sports seats from Sparco, adds to the car's race car feel.
Having launched in the UK at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, we had the pleasure of piloting the new Alfa to this year’s FOS. The route down from London where we picked up the car involves plenty of narrow, twisting tree-lined B-roads and country lanes, where the tail-happy Alfa was in its element, howling through the quaint English countryside at the crack of dawn. Goodwood attendees arriving in something a bit naughty can pay for the privilege of parking in the Performance Car Park. Which is exactly where the Cloverleaf-badged Giulia belonged. And man, did it turn heads. Lamborghini, McLarens, Astons, Porsches and Ferraris littered the patch of grass reserved for supercars.
But it was the Giulia QV that had people crouched over, nose pressed to the glass, shielding their eyes to peek inside at the carbon-clad interior. “I want that car,” at least half a dozen people told me throughout the day, commending me on my ride. And I hope they have the balls to go and buy one. The sports sedan segment is about as competitive as it’s ever been with the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63 S and Cadillac ATS-V all impressive in their own right. But I would wager that the Alfa will be the one that puts the biggest smile on your face. We’ve driven this car on three different occasions now, and each time it’s blown us away.
Owning an Alfa should be on every car enthusiast’s bucket list, and with the Giulia QV, there’s never been a better time to get that ambition checked. It’s hard to gauge what the Giulia QV would be like as a daily driver after a long weekend with the car. The boot swallowed a set of golf clubs, if that’s your thing, rear passengers never wanted for more space and the car was happy enough in traffic. It pretty much does everything expected of your typical sedan. It’s just that at the switch of a button, you have a race car to play around with. I don’t know about you, but I could live with that every day.