Few car manufacturers have a name and functionality motif as evocative as Alfa Romeo’s four-leaf clover. It is affixed to just the company’s most potent versions, but lately, they have almost all been a disappointment. Step forward the Giulia Quadrifoglio (Quadrifoglio being the Italian for a four-leaf clover, in the event you were wondering) — this car, depending on the impressive Giulia executive saloon, promises more.
All the perfect ingredients seem to be there: it is built on the same lightweight, rear-wheel-drive underpinnings as the Giulia, but the Quadrifoglio variant comes equipped with a staggeringly powerful 503bhp turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 petrol engine. That means it is excellent for 0-62mph in only 3.9sec and a loony top speed of 191mph. To put all that power to good use, it becomes automatic suspension and quicker steering, while bigger brakes are standard to make sure it stops and it goes.
However, it faces stiff competition from some exceptionally well rounded and recognized performance cars, such as the BMW M3, Mercedes Benz C63 and Audi RS4 Avant. Does the Giulia have the operation and managing to take them and beat them? Keep reading to discover.
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Expensive performance saloon lives and dies by how it drives and, in this respect, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is right up there with the best.
Its engine is hugely entertaining and, despite being heavily turbocharged, suffers barely any lag, thus delivering a button-sharp throttle response. In actuality, flooring the accelerator from a standstill and it is going to out-sprint both a BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 to 62mph and continue to higher top speed than those cars, too. The eight-speed automatic gearbox plays a significant part in that. All right, it dithers and slurs a little at reduced rates through town, but it transforms once you begin to press, producing finger-click-sharp manual adjustments when using the Giulia’s gorgeous aluminum column-mounted paddles.
The motor and gearbox are at their best when you have chosen the sportiest Race driving manner, while Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency manners sit, offering more relaxed settings for both throttle response and gearchange. Race can also be where the Giulia Quadrifoglio seems its best, barking loudly as the revs rise and hammering violently on changes. It sounds a lot more invigorating than a BMW M3. However, some may argue, not like the C63’s thundering 4.0-liter V8.
The brakes are a bit disappointing. Not concerning stopping ability – the optional ceramic brakes mainly provide monumental retardation from high speed — but concerning feel. Since the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s brakes operate via electronic equipment as opposed to hydraulics, as you press on the brake pedal the first answer is somewhat vague.
There is nothing wrong with how the car handles, however. As a result of a bespoke suspension song, which is made softer or stiffer independently of the drive mode selector to match the bumpiness of the road, there is next to nobody roll while cornering at speed. The Giulia Quadrifoglio also includes a smart differential on its back axle that helps better disperse power as the wheel starts to slip. Needless to say, if you would like to break traction in the back and steer using the accelerator, that is possible too — at which point you will discover that, despite its tremendous power output, the car’s chassis is much more forgiving (and considerably less daunting) compared to twitchy M3’s.
It is not just from corners the Giulia Quadrifoglio entertains. As you flip into bends, it seems light, poised and nimble, the quick steering which makes it attentive but never nervous. Moreover, its front wheels hold tight, so that you can carry severe speed.
Then there is the ride. If you believe a performance car will be too firm, think again. Because while you may feel the Giulia Quadrifoglio after imperfections, it is so supple and handsomely damped it takes out the sting of sharp ridges rather than jars.
In actuality, the only real downside to the way the car drives is some wind and road noise in a cruise on the motorway. Its rivals, however, mainly the C63, suffer from this more acutely.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s standard driver’s seat is set low and permits you to embrace a hunkered-down position facing well-positioned pedals. The widely adjustable steering wheel, with its pleasingly narrow rim, complements this. To get a hefty premium, Alfa Romeo will match carbon fiber sports chairs. These are brightly supportive and worth the extra if you can find it.
There is quite a noticeable gap in substance richness between entry-level Giulias and higher-end examples, like the Quadrifoglio. The latter has a leather-wrapped dash, and carbon fiber trims the car should bear comparison with the likes of the Audi RS4 and Mercedes AMG C63. Moreover, the aluminum gear choice paddles feel superb, as does the optional leather, Alcantara and carbon fiber-laced steering wheel.
However, while it looks great at a glance, the Giulia Quadrifoglio does not match the standard of its rivals on closer inspection. There are too many Christmas cracker plastics, and flimsy buttons and switches sprinkled around — that only do not belong in a car costing this much.
The infotainment system is controlled with a rotary controller and relayed through an 8.8in color screen that looks as if from nowhere behind a smoke display. Average graphics quality, a slightly dim screen and a few muddled and confusing menu performance down it, however.
Space & practicality
Indoors, the Quadrifoglio is precisely like any other Alfa Romeo Giulia concerning space and practicality. It is not the simplest of saloons to climb into, using a rather low roofline and low-set chairs, but as soon as you are in, the automobile caters to full-sized adults reasonably well in both rows. The front sports seats are full, adjustable and widely comfortable, and both shoulder space and elbow room are great. There is an assortment of cubbyholes to stow your odds and ends, including a sizeable space beneath the center armrest and glovebox.
In the back, there is a competitive quantity of leg room for the course – as much as the BMW M3 and Mercedes AMG C63 provide – and there is space for feet under the standard front seats. Head area is adequate but not outstanding.
Weirdly, the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s boot has the same on-paper quantity as an M3 but marginally more than the C63. It is going to match your golf clubs or a few reasonably large suitcases. Sadly, if you want more space than that, you are stuck – split-folding back chairs are standard fit nor an optional extra.
Cost & verdict
Nobody enters into possession of a performance saloon under the belief it will be a cheap experience, but nobody wants to be throwing money away. The Giulia Quadrifoglio costs slightly more than a BMW M3 but marginally less than a Mercedes AMG C63, and its standard equipment is up there with both. Indeed, there is no need to go mad on the options list; 19in alloy wheels, elastic dampers, xenon headlights, leather and Alcantara seats, cruise control, sat-nav and Bluetooth are a few of the conveniences included. Its fuel economy and CO2 emissions are aggressive versus those competitions, too, and its servicing costs are likewise eye-watering.
However, looking further down the line, the Giulia Quadrifoglio will not continue to as much of its value over three years as an Audi RS4, but it should depreciate slower than the C63 and M3, which can help keep PCP finance rates competitive. Since these cars cost a similar amount to purchase and produce hefty CO2 emissions, there is little to choose between the Giulia Quadrifoglio and its rivals in regards to company car tax costs.
Euro NCAP awarded the normal Giulia its full five-star evaluation in its crash tests, and six airbags and automatic city braking technology with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning are standard. Security firm Thatcham Research also had great things to report, rating the Giulia Quadrifoglio as excellent at resisting being pushed away and good at resisting and break in.
The Giulia is too new to enroll in our latest reliability poll, but Alfa Romeo as a producer did better than you might expect, finishing in the top five of the 32 manufacturers sampled. Thankfully, all Alfa Romeos come with a seven-year guarantee without any mileage limit.