Car reviews - Alfa Romeo - Giulia - Quadrifoglio
Alfa Romeo models
Supermodel good looks, high performance capability from cracking engine, sharp handling and composure, gorgeous interior
Room for improvement
Carbon brakes feel spongey when cold, stiff ride height, confusing infotainment system
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29 Jun 2017
By TUNG NGUYEN
Price and equipment
WHILE the base Giulia kicks off the mid-size European sedan range at $59,895 before on-road costs, the top-spec Quadrifoglio Verde sits a substantial $84,005 upstream at $143,900.
However, the flagship Giulia offers more than just a cracking 375kW/600Nm Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 (more on that later).
It also includes an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission from ZF, perfect 50:50 weight distribution, active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera, automatic headlights and wipers, parking sensors front and rear, tyre pressure monitoring, 19-inch forged alloy wheels and enough lightweight carbon-fibre bits to make to make a McLaren jealous.
It’s a long list of equipment, expectedly so if you want to compete in the hotly-disputed luxury mid-size sportscar segment against the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S – which the Alfa is more than a match for in terms of specification – as well as the incoming Audi RS4.
Pricing is also competitive too, with the Giulia QV undercutting the BMW M3 Competition ($144,900) and Mercedes-AMG C63 S ($155,615), although BMW has since released an M3 Pure variant for $129,900.
Our test car, finished in the optional sinister Vulcano Black metallic paint, also came with lightweight carbon-fibre Sparco seats and eye-catching two-tone red and black interior, which, in our opinion, is a perfect combination to accentuate the gorgeous styling of the Italian four door.
Stepping inside the Giulia QV, you quickly realise that this is one Alfa that is beautiful both inside and out.
We reckon Alfa’s designers need to be commended here for crafting a simplistic, functional and aesthetically pleasing cabin that does not sacrifice any usability or functionality. It succeeds at both form and function.
As mentioned previously, our test car was fitted with the red and black interior pack, which tastefully colours the lower half of the dash in an eye-catching crimson, tying in beautifully with the red-stitching highlights throughout.
The central 8.8-inch screen, which incorporates 3D sat-nav, digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity and feeds into a 900W Harman/Kardon 14-speaker sound system, seamlessly melds into the dashboard and is one of the best integrations of a large screen we have seen in a car.
Seriously, there is no pop-out screen or a large display tacked on to the top of the centre stack as an afterthought, the Giulia’s dashboard seems to be designed around its gorgeous and responsive display.
The aesthetically pleasing dashboard design does give way to some flaws though – albeit none are deal breakers.
We did take issue with the software being used in the central touchscreen. The widescreen is able to accommodate two displays at once and, with the on-screen controls popping in from the left, we found there was a little too much information on show to properly navigate between menus.
There are also only two USB ports found throughout the car, one front and one rear. In a day and age when battery life on mobile devices seemingly last only a few hours, we would have appreciated a few more options to plug in and charge up.
The steering wheel as well, seems to suffers from multiple personality disorder, finished at the top in soft-touch Alcantara, with the remaining rim done in leather and the inside with carbon-fibre.
However, everything else about being inside the Giulia QV is nothing short of classy. The optional seats are snug and secure without feeling restrictive or back-breakingly hard, the air-conditioning controls are simple and easy to use, the instrumentation is clear and concise, the sound system pumps and the overall fit and finish is up there with the best, in our opinion.
The rear bench seats, while only restricted to two instead of the usual three, are useable as well and will easily accommodate large adults in comfort.
Engine and transmission
To bump gloves against the 331kW/550Nm BMW M3 and 375kW/700Nm Mercedes-AMG C63 S, Alfa Romeo had to come up with something truly special.
How does a Ferrari-derived twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 producing 375kW of power and 600Nm of torque fit the bill then?Alfa claims a top speed of 307km/h and while we never even got close to maxing out the Giulia QV, we certainly gave it our best at a few freeway on-ramps to try and hit the landmark zero to 100km/h time in 3.9 seconds.
While we have no idea if we even got close, acceleration in the Giulia QV is more like a theme park roller coaster than a sportscar. Strap yourself in, stamp the throttle and sit back as the speedometer rises faster than you can say “Alfisti”.
Although acceleration in first gear initially feels underwhelming, once the turbos spool up, power is piled on at an almost unbelievable pace.
Gearing doesn’t help much either, with short 5.0 first gear ratio, the Giulia is super keen to shift up into second where it can better put power down to the rear axle.
Later gears are better tuned to making the most of the Giulia’s near 7000rpm redline, with peak power coming on at 6500rpm, while maximum torque is available from 2500-5000rpm.
Shifting is handled by a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic unit from ZF, which never became unstuck or confused in our time with the car.
However, we found eight ratios to be borderline unnecessary in the car, even cruising at 100km/h on the freeway the transmission was hesitant to shift into its final gear.
For those who like to shift themselves, simply flick the gear stick into manual mode and have your way with the huge steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but we actually preferred to just keep it in automatic.
Also standard on the Giulia QV is a Monza Dual Mode Exhaust System, which sounds incredible from the outside, but a little muffled from the cabin.
Our only wish was a few more burbles, snaps and pops on upshift, but public roads are hardly the place to display such anti-social behavior…In our week with the car, we averaged 11.5 litres per 100km in the car with mainly inner city and heavy traffic driving. The official fuel economy rating is 8.2L/100km.
Ride and handling
Underpinned by Alfa Romeo’s three-mode DNA selectable drive system, the Giulia QV can be driven in Dynamic, Normal or Race settings.
As expected, each mode adjusts suspension, steering, transmission and throttle settings, with each progressive step up getting closer to the uncompromising settings of a racecar.
Our tastes found that Normal mode was the best for puttering around town, but the steering was a little too light, while the Race setting caused things to firm up too much for Melbourne’s public roads.
Dynamic mode is definitely the sweet spot in the Giulia QV, offering plenty of sportscar thrills without ever becoming too much for us to handle.
However we did find the ride to be a little too firm no matter what setting we had it in, likely not helped by the low-profile tyres wrapped around 19-inch wheels.
Tucked behind the large hoops though are a set of massive brakes which can pull up the 1585kg sedan from 100km/h to a dead stop in just 38.5m.
At the front, 360mm Brembo cross-drilled rotors with six-piston callipers take care of stopping power, while the rears feature a 350mm four-piston unit.
While we found the brakes to be a little numb with a noticeable pedal dead zone before the pads would bite the rotors, our press car was fitted with the optional carbon brakes which offer the best performance when warmed up.
For our money though, if you were going to use the Giulia QV on a circuit and needed the extra assurance, the brake upgrade would be a must, but for day-to-day driving, stick to the standard kit.
Safety and servicing
The Alfa Romeo Giulia QV has yet to be crash tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
However, when tested by Euro NCAP – which ANCAP is aligning its test standards closer to – the Giulia achieved a maximum five-star safety rating.
The adult occupant test scored the highest with 98 per cent, losing points for adequate protection to the driver’s chest and right leg in the frontal offset crash test.
Child occupant safety scored 81 per cent, while pedestrian protection scored 69 per cent.
Safety assist systems scored 60 per cent due to the lack of speed assistance technologies such as speed limiter and warning.
All Australian delivered Giulia QVs come with a three-year/150,000km warranty with roadside assist, while service intervals are at every 15,000km/12 months.
Alfa Romeo has a lot riding on the Giulia QV. It simultaneously needs to launch the brand back into the spotlight after issues with quality control and reliability in the past, as well as putting up a fight to well-established players in the premium European sports sedan segment.
Luckily then, the Giulia QV delivers on its potential, becoming a viable alternative to the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S, while also delivering a polished and easy-on-the-eyes sportscar in its own right.
Small stumbling blocks aside, Alfa Romeo has knocked the Giulia QV out of the park.
BMW M3 Competition from $144,900 before on-roads
With heritage and history behind it, it’s hard not to like the characterful M3.
Swapping a naturally aspirated V8 engine for a twin-turbo inline six means it loses some of the intoxicating exhaust burble, not none of the sharp, dynamic performance. Still a capable sportscar, but the oldest of the bunch and no longer the outright best in the business.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S from $155,615 before on-roads
A sledgehammer twin-turbo V8 helps propel the latest C63, which combines refinement and performance into a single package. A higher sticker price and thirstier engine means you end up paying more in the long run for the Merc, but the tail-happy rear end and crackling exhaust will keep you smiling the whole time.
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