Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifolgio combines Ferrari power with practicality

SOMEONE once told me that you can't consider yourself a real 'car person' if you've never owned an Alfa Romeo.

I knew immediately what they meant: for years, the Italian car maker had a reputation for combining exquisite design and pulse-quickening performance with frustratingly poor build quality, 'challenging' electrical reliability and lack of dealer support.

Thus, Alfa ownership meant accepting a deficit of trouble-free motoring in exchange for concentrated doses of pure driving pleasure whenever your car was actually road worthy.

Having finally got behind the wheel of a modern Alfa last month, I can now see what the fuss is all about in an era when the company has exorcised its old demons.

Debuting in 2015, the Alfa Romeo Giulia combined killer looks with an exceptional ride quality, comfort and practicality. I missed out on test driving one last year, so when another opportunity presented itself recently, I didn't hesitate – especially as it was the latest version of the Giulia's fire-breathing, carbon fibre-riddled Quadrifoglio edition.

Combining 50/50 weight distribution with a Ferrari-derived 510hp 2.9l V6 Bi-Turbo petrol engine, the rear wheel drive Giulia Quadrifoglio can do 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds. With 442 lb ft of torque a top speed of 191mph, it's the most powerful road-going Alfa Romeo ever made.

Of course, I didn't get anywhere close to 191mph during my 45min spin in this beautiful machine adorned with Alfa's iconic green cloverleaf badging – though that 0-62mph capability was certainly put to the test a couple of times and I can confirm that it passed with giggle inducing, literally breathtaking gusto.

Instead, I got to discover just how usable the Giulia is as an everyday car even in 200mph-nudging Quadrifoglio guise. For starters, you can just jump in and start driving as if it were your average run-of-the mill four door saloon, albeit one that costs £75k, gives passing petrolheads whiplash and sounds gloriously like a Ferrari when you blip the throttle while exiting the local supermarket car park.

The electronically assisted brakes do require a lighter than usual touch on the pedal in order to avoid pulling up a little shorter than you intended, but basically it's a very civilised drive – until you get adventurous.

The car's Alfa DNA Pro drive mode technology offers three settings: Dynamic (less steering assist, faster power delivery and gear shifts, firmer suspension), Natural ("comfortable and demure" handling/performance for everyday driving scenarios), Advanced Efficiency (see below) and Race (maximum power, performance and steering feel, zero traction and stability control, louder exhaust roar, huge chance of becoming intimately acquainted with roadside hedges), with the latter also selectable in conjunction with adaptive dampers for a more forgiving on-the-road ride.

Advanced Efficiency mode occasionally de-activates half the engine's cylinders for – you guessed it – advanced efficiency when under light load, and also improved grip in slippery conditions. To that end, the car is also equipped with the Alfa Active Torque Vectoring system, which throws power to whichever rear wheel has the best grip.

The Quadrifoglio has an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, with manual shifting possible via pleasingly ergonomic aluminium steering wheel paddles. It's an excellent box which never pontificates over gear selection and gives you instant access to the car's reserves of ferocious power when you plant your boot for a spot of overtaking.

Oddly enough, you do find yourself looking for opportunities to overtake (safely and legally, of course) when driving the Giulia Quadrifolgio on A-roads plagued by tractors, cyclists and learner drivers. Do this too enthusiastically in Race mode in anything other than bone dry conditions and you'll likely feel the rear end trying to break away: likewise if you exit corners a little too 'presto' – as in "hey presto, there's a Giulia Quadrifolgio-shaped hole in the hedge".

It's a super-comfortable car for front and rear passengers: the test machine I drove was fitted with standard heated and fully electronically adjustable leather/alcantara sports seats, which were excellent. However, track-hounds can spec optional Sparco Carbonshell Sports Seats up front for a mere £3,250.

In the back, there's a decent amount of leg and head room and the outboard seats are also heated for extra comfort. There's even a generous amount of room in the boot too, as befitting a car which has to compete with the likes of the current BMW M3 and imminent new Mercedes AMG C63 S.

As mentioned, the Giulia Quadrifolgio starts at £74,999 OTR, but realistically you're going tpo want to spend a fair chunk more on desirable options like metallic paint (£700), 19-inch Quadrifolgio-specific alloys (£540), red brake calipers (£450) and reversing sensors (£213).

Big spenders with track day aspirations may also want to splurge on the aforementioned Sparco Carbonshell Sports Seats (£3,250), carbon ceramic brakes (£3k) and a race-spec Akrapovic sports exhaust system (£3,250), plus maximum carbon fibre-ness with an exposed carbon fibre roof (£2k), front grille with carbon fibre insert (£685) and carbon fibre mirror caps (£740).

Fancy tri-coat ceramic paint is also available for £2.5k. Indeed, tick every available option including Alfa's most generous Easy Care servicing plan – five years/45k miles for £1,229 up front – and you're looking at a £100k car.

Alfa fans on a budget might be tempted to forgo Ferrari-power for the similarly lush looking and not exactly slouchy 280hp Giulia Veloce, which costs a mere £46k. But, if you have the means, the Quadrifolgio certainly gives the more commonplace BMW M3 (from £78,175 OTR) a run for your premium sports saloon money.

There's a reason the Giulia Quadrifolgio was just voted a 'future classic' at the recent Autocar Awards, which asked people to vote for cars that will be "revered as classics in 50 years time".

"It's one of the most soulful cars on sale today," say Autocar. "Judges highlighted the car's driving dynamics, stylish appearance, precision on the road and outright uniqueness against competitor models."

I can't disagree with any of that. Anyone fancy lending me about £70k?


  • Price: £74,999 OTR
  • Engine: 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo
  • Transmission: ZF 8 Speed Automatic
  • 0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 191mph
  • Max power: 510hp
  • Max torque: 442 lb ft
  • Co2 emissions: 206g/km (236g/km WLTP)
  • Fuel consumption 31.7 mpg combined (27.2mpg combined WLTP)