Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Rebirth of Italian Legend
It all starts with the FCA pouring a truckload of money into a project. Everybody was hoping against all odds that, this time, everything will work out the way it should and the streak of bad luck will end within Alfa Romeo.
The end result is the 505bhp Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio. The Quadrifoglio is the top-tier of the brand new 4-door Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan. It is thrown out there into the wild to win the hearts of otherwise fixed BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 S buyers. The way it plans to do this is by mixing the beautiful craft of Italian design with a more than decent powertrain. The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio must be comfortable for the road and dynamic for the track. And heart in hand, it does both with remarkable grace.
The outer shell of the Quadrifoglio is coated in a signature Rosso Competizione Tri-Coat nuance (optionally available for $2000). It is the colorway Alfa Romeo used throughout its marketing campaigns to present the Giulia, and with a dose of subjectivity, it is also a part of the best-looking Giulia Quadrifoglio. It is not that Vulcano Black Metallic or Montecario Blue Metallic are wrong; however, Italian style is better expressed in red nuances.
The overall shape and body lines are modern-looking. In fact, calling the Giulia Quadrifoglio a classic is somewhat forced. Fortunately, although it went through a rather short design period, it is one of the better-looking models Alfa Romeo has yet released to the public.
Design engineers didn’t skimp on the carbon fiber. You can find it woven into the hood, body panels and even more on the decorative bits inside. The roof is also crafted out of carbon fiber, making a sunroof unavailable.
On the other hand, numerous air vents are fitted throughout the body. Unlike you might expect, all vents are active and you can actually feel heat coming out of them just by hovering your hand over them.
With the Quadrifoglio, Alfa pumped up the design, especially on the front. Along with the signature elements such as the triangular grille and swept-back headlights, engineers have also fitted a lower front splitter with an active lip. According to Alfa Romeo, at 70 mph in Race Mode, the lip comes out at a 10-degree angle and boosts downforce by about 300 lbs. It is the first time we are seeing an active aero element in a production model of this segment.
Wheels come equipped with Pirelli PZero Corsa A tires which can be fitted onto forged steel rims (lighter and more durable) or graphite-finished 5-hole rims for an improved look.
Behind the rims, the Quadrifoglio comes standard with steel perforated brake discs and 4-piston Brembo calipers. Enthusiasts can opt for the more advanced Brembo ceramic brake package for an extra-firm pedal and added stopping power.
Plenty of Ferrari on the inside
Once you get inside the 2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio, even the door closing sound denotes sturdiness and a feeling of quality. While it isn’t all the way up to what you would find in a top-tier Audi RS4, the overall quality of the interior raises the bar high enough. Once you dispose of the strangely large key fob, you buckle up and start the car.
Or, at least, you try to start it. The Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio has a push-to-start system, but first timers might have to spend a minute finding the actual button. Unlike most similar cars, the button is not on the right side of the dashboard near the vents or somewhere on the center console. Instead, you will have to look for it on the lower left side of the steering wheel. As we’ve just mentioned, there’s plenty of Ferrari quirks on the inside, and it doesn’t stop at the engine start button.
While right-hand drive models won’t be fitted with a manual transmission, the automatic ZF gearbox comes with paddle shifters. Their positioning and design reminds once again about the other, older, way more expensive Italian car manufacturer.
Like on the outside, carbon fiber is present on the interior a whole lot more. From the dashboard to body panels to optional Sparco seats supports, carbon fiber is out there to reduce weight and make things look awesome.
Using the DNA Pro controller, you can switch between driving modes (Advanced Efficiency, Natural, Dynamic and Race). The upgraded 8-inch LCD display is integrated at the center of the dashboard. While the shape of the glass preceding the screen (which doesn’t support touch commands) is not ugly, and it somehow makes the actual display feel smaller than it really is.
Getting to the juicy part
All in all, we know Italian design has rarely dropped the ball. In other words, it was expected of the Giulia to look good in all its iterations, not just the Quadrifoglio. However, the recent history tells a totally different story when it comes to drivetrain, on-road and on-track performance.
Let’s face it: the last few Alfa Romeo models weren’t exactly noteworthy it terms of performance; to make it even worse, reliability hit a bottom to the point where cars would require extensive maintenance just to perform basic tasks.
Before the Alfa Romeo Giulia was released, everybody kept their finger crossed hoping for a new generation that would turn the tides. The new Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio delivered. It maintains the beautiful looks but more important, boasts amazing performance and a noteworthy dynamic handling.
Once again, we meet Ferrari engineering, this time beneath the hood. The 2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio packs a 2.9-liter V6 engine under the hood. This is basically a Ferrari California T V8 that has been stripped down of the first two cylinders. The engine is twin-turbocharged – each turbo is capable of pushing a humongous 35 psi of boost. At that value, it is likely one of the highest boost pressures ever to be seen in a production engine.
Thanks to the excellent engineering and high boost value, the overall output of the 2.9-liter V6 rates at a staggering 505hp and 443 lb.-ft. (600Nm) of torque. For European versions, the power can be delivered via a 6-speed manual gearbox or a ZF 8-speed automatic. While the manual option offers a more involving driving experience, in reality, the automatic gearbox takes the cake. The ZF implementation in the Quadrifolgio is perhaps the nicest all-round gearbox you’re going to find at this price point. It works in running errands in town, cruising on the highway and racing at the track.
The engine feels really exciting. Once you push on the throttle, it revs constantly and reaches a higher peak torque compared to a BMW M3. Indeed, this is an engine that asks to be worked on at the higher RPM range. There is plenty of power going to the rear wheels as well as a lot of torque. However, the lower RPM range feels slightly let down – unless you are constantly shifting in the upper range, at some point you will feel the need for the car to pick up the pace faster.
The tiny bit of understeer is easily eliminated through the action of the throttle, as there is plenty of torque out there to get the car to turn, even if it has to do it sideways. By the way, the Quadrifoglio does an awesome job drifting around the corners. Put it in Racing mode, use the DNA Pro knob to stiffen the suspension, and press the throttle. It will power glide right away.
We are glad to see the Italian beauty matched by the same level of performance after almost 20 years of waiting for something like this to happen. Overall, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is bulkier and bigger than a BMW M3, but it’s more comfortable and that scores high points given the segment they’re both in.
The Ferrari engineered V6 revs up and down properly and you can actually feel (and hear) the difference between the available drive modes. Moreover, the economy mode truly improves highway/city mileage to the point where it will save you some coin over time.
However, we were most interested on seeing the track behavior of the Quadrifoglio. Once again it did not disappoint. It’s a 505hp RWD Alfa Romeo carries its weight around the bends, pushes enough power to make you feel the thrill and looks good the whole time doing it.