Can Alfa Romeo really make a BMW M3-beater?
Thereâ€™s nothing like living with a car to find out what itâ€™s really like. The road testers have declared the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the firmâ€™s 503bhp range-topping BMW M3 rival, among the best cars the Italian firm has produced in three decades. Itâ€™s in a completely different league to pretty much anything thatâ€™s gone before it. We now have the enviable task of using it as a daily driver.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Price as testedÂ Â£73,805
Engine: 2.9-litre, V6, turbocharged petrol
Power: 503bhp at 6500rpm
Torque: 442lb ft at 2500rpm
Top speed: 191mph
Claimed economy: 34.4mpg
Test fuel economy: 20.2mpg
This Quadrifoglio â€“ QV for short â€“ wows before you even step inside. With all its air vents, flared sills and rear diffuser, itâ€™s more like a supercar than a sports saloon, particularly in Â£1750 Competizione Red paint. Thereâ€™s a carbon figure bonnet, an active front splitter and, underneath, a bespoke rear-wheel drive chassis with adaptive dampers and clever torque-sensing differential.
Thereâ€™s also a brand-new twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 engine, one that does 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and has a wild 191mph top speed. Itâ€™s on another level to most things in this sector â€“ and the Â£2950 optional carbonfibre-shell Sparco seats certainly put all those who sit in it in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. Thank goodness our car also has Â£5500 of high-power carbon-ceramic brakesâ€¦
Indeed, so vibrant is the Giulia QV to drive, we often have to keep reminding ourselves to take it steady and stop driving like an F1 racer in a hurry. Itâ€™s so staggeringly urgent, and sounds so delicious when revving through to the 7300rpm limiter, that you purposefully have to reign yourself in when driving it. Often, the figures on the digital speedo both surprise you and make you jump on the brakes again.
Handling is also fantastic. The rear-drive chassis is exceptional and the sheer amount of poise and precision is more like a supercar than a super saloon. Itâ€™s impossible not to enjoy the drive, and we often find ourselves diverting from the straight and narrow onto twistier country roads just to enjoy the thrills.
Not that itâ€™s all sporting intensity. The everyday ride is surprisingly comfortable, with good refinement and absorbency. It surprises many in this regard, who judge by the way it looks and sounds and conclude itâ€™s going to be a bone-shaker; itâ€™s anything but. Which only makes living with it all the more alluring.
There are niggles, of course. It wouldnâ€™t be an Alfa if there werenâ€™t. Sometimes, weâ€™ve found the car alarm goes off for no reason, flashing up a â€˜break-in attempt detectedâ€™ warning when we return to it in the morning. Itâ€™s done this six times in the past month â€“ a visit to our friendly, impressive local dealer didnâ€™t find anything amiss, although it has settled down since then, so maybe it really was just a niggle.
The infotainment screen is also a bit odd. For starters, itâ€™s hard to view when wearing polarising sunglasses â€“ â€˜blotchesâ€™ appear on the display, depending on the angle of your head. The map, weirdly, also has no default north-facing option, so is continually spinning around wildly as you enjoy the QVâ€™s handling. And while the Sparco seats look gorgeous, weâ€™re finding it a bit tricky to get comfortable in them without a bit of wiggling around â€“ and theyâ€™re not heated either, so the leather is frightfully chilly on cold winter mornings.
The car also went into limp-home mode while driving on the motorway. This saw us turn it off and sit by the side of the road for a few minutes, before resuming with it restored to full health. We dropped it into the dealer and they replaced a few pipes on the turbo, and itâ€™s since performed perfectly: a one-off thatâ€™s related to the hard life this ex-test car has led? We shall see.
None of itâ€™s stopping us enjoying this wonderful machine, though. Alfa has made a magnificent car here, and itâ€™s going to take something pretty catastrophic to stop us thinking it a true landmark thatâ€™s an instant classic. After decades in the doldrums, Alfa Romeo has delivered, and weâ€™re enjoying every minute of it.