Car reviews - Alfa Romeo - Giulia - Quadrifoglio
Alfa Romeo models
Momentous engine, effortless track pace, unique interior, captivating looks
Room for improvement
Jury’s still out for on-road manners
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3 Feb 2017
THERE was a time when Alfa Romeo was copping flak from customers and the media alike for its range of vehicles that may have positively oozed Italian style and flair, but fell very short on quality.
Describing the Alfas of yesteryear as medieval is perhaps a little unkind and yet the man at the top of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) empire – Sergio Marchionne – appeared to insinuate exactly that when he announced that the arrival of the Giulia QV would mark the start of a renaissance for the company.
How so? Ask the dictionary for a definition of the word and it will tell you that the European Renaissance was the period when art, literature and learning transitioned from the “medieval to the modern”. Hyperbole or a warranted title for a pivotal moment in the company’s history?On paper, the QV’s startling vital statistics are the automotive equivalent of a Michaelangelo. Its engine may only displace 2.9 litres but with a dusting of Ferrari magic the turbo V6 manages to pump out 375kW – the same as Mercedes-AMG wrings out of 4.0 litres and eight cylinders when under the bonnet of the C63 S.
Then there is its performance. Bury the throttle from a standstill and the Giulia will lunge to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds and it won’t stop until 307km/h flashes up on the central digital display.
The mouthwatering numbers are a combination of the very best minds in the FCA family coming together, thrashing out the top-secret skunkworks project and compromising on nothing.
Its bonnet, roof, active front splitter, rear diffuser and even the propshaft are all crafted from carbon-fibre, while the new Giorgio platform that underpins the Giulia range is all-new as well.
Aluminium body panels have been sculpted together to create a car that manages to be both effeminately pretty but also intimidatingly aggressive and muscular.
There is nothing else on the road that looks like the QV and its the same story on the inside.
We didn’t have much time to absorb the cabin before launching out for a few laps of Sydney’s Eastern Creek track but even in a hurry it is easy to appreciate the subtle and stylish interior that is not simply broken up into seats, doors, dash and windows, but flows together as a single piece.
A central 8.8-inch screen is a particularly likeable centrepiece, integrated behind a single asymmetrical translucent trim unlike other more standard rectangular units.
The slender, small-diameter steering wheel, snug sports seats and purposeful driving position coaxes and encourages the driver to explore the QV’s possibilities, so we obliged.
If you have not watched the Giulia QV’s record-breaking lap of the Nurburgring in Germany then we encourage you to have a look but, at the hands of a significantly less talented driver, the Alfa is nowhere near as terrifying as it appears when piloted by Fabio Franchia at the Green Hell.
Acceleration is brutal and when smashing through the eight gears with the large fixed paddles, the Alfa feels like only a very big crash would stop it, but thanks to its manageable and accommodating manners, that didn’t happen.
With the DNA dial turned to the naughtiest setting the sound from the four tailpipes is demonic and is not softened by the presence of two turbines in the exhaust system. The bark is addictive and not unlike Porsche’s 911 Turbo S report at higher rpm.
With the Pirelli P Zero Corsas up to a temperature similar to the core of the earth the Giulia has reassuring grip and its 50:50 weight distribution makes it easy to attack corners with a heavier hand than we were expecting.
Where some other high-performance sedans would punish a driver for anything other than a perfect line at speed, the QV is more forgiving allowing a bit of experimentation – dare we say it.
However, when you nail the perfect entry, apex and exit, the car slaps you on the back with rocket-ship pace.
Braking on standard iron rotors is positive and never hinted at fade but the massively expensive carbon-ceramic optional discs are a sensation with rock-hard pedal feel and rock-solid performance even when pumped full of friction.
We only experienced one wobble from the Giulia’s otherwise bulletproof performance when exiting the final bend – one of the longest on the course – when a quarter-filled tank caused a fuel surge prompting fuel starvation and an engine warning light to illuminate.
When hitting the track in a QV a full tank is the order of the day if you want to avoid a trip to a service centre for a fault code reset. After a quick check up and code clear the car was back out on the black stuff as strong as ever.
The Giulia’s steering is also worth mentioning too. While many adaptive drive settings make the steering feel as though the power steering has been removed completely, the QV manages to maintain beautiful feedback whilst remaining light and sensitive.
At the conclusion of the day, we handed the keys over to a real driver and allowed the trained racer to show what the QV can really do in the right hands, which he did by removing any last usable shred of rubber from the rear hoops in a display of sideways, squealing, smoke-screened ballet.
The Giulia QV is a staggering departure from some forgettable Alfa’s of previous years. There are no parts that appear to have been pulled from the FCA community bin, everything appears to be well screwed on and there are no features that would be hard to live with but you would dismiss as ‘part of the Italian charm’ when explaining why you bought one.
Until we get a chance to leave the track and smoking tyres behind and hit Australia’s unique roads we can not yet confirm if the Giulia QV is a wheeled Sistine Madonna or the Kiss of Judas, but its monstrous pace and impressive packaging certainly suggest the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S have a lot to be worried about.
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