2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO REVIEW:
THE GERMANS SHOULD BE NERVOUS
505 hp and an 8-speed that's double-clutch fast
OCTOBER 24, 2017The exterior looks great to my eye, the car goes like stink, and the sticker is lower than I thought. What’s not to like? This is another car I’ve been waiting to drive for a long time, and saying I was skeptical is an enormous understatement. Given Fiat/Alfa’s legendary reputation for spotty build quality and reliability, I just couldn’t take the car seriously.
I was wrong. This car is excellent.
The twin-turbo six is based on a Ferrari V8, if memory serves, and the 505 hp is plenty. Probably more than plenty -- this is an engine that just loves to rev, does so evenly, and thus the car goes really fast, really quickly. Gotta pay attention to the speedometer. Especially in dynamic mode, this thing is a rocket and the six and the trans work well together. The steering is super sharp and the ride felt near perfect no matter the mode, nice and civilized. I came nowhere near the chassis limits. I’m guessing it’d take a racetrack to do that.
Like the sticker price, the interior quality surprised me -- quite a bit better than I thought it’d be (there’s the skepticism again), with nice build quality and terrific seats. The center console knobs controlling things such as the stereo and drive modes and whatnot leading to the center menu screen all function intuitively.
Is the Alfa competitive with the Germans? Good question. My favorite car in this class is the Mercedes C63. I’d need to drive them back to back. So far, though, I’m impressed. --Wes Raynal, editor
Like the senior-ranking (old) Wes, I’ve been waiting to drive this Alfa for a long time. Also like Wes, I’m very impressed by how well the Giulia drives. It’s nimble -- the steering responds well to subtle inputs, like a good car should. The steering is on the lighter side, considerably lighter than BMW’s M3 and even lighter than the Mercedes-AMG C63. Still, it responds just as well as either of those cars, even on winter rubber.
Where the Giulia falls short is its exhaust note. Unlike the other luxury performance sedans, the Giulia lacks a bellowing scream. Even after swinging the dial into race mode, which opens up its throat a little, it’s full of farts and other heavily turbocharged engine noises but has no real roar. Of course, that doesn’t matter so much -- it still has 505 hp on tap. The engine is very rev happy. It doesn’t have a ton of bottom-end oomph, so you’ll likely cruise around over 3K rpm.
The eight-speed auto shifts incredibly fast. It’s as responsive as any DCT-equipped car I’ve driven. It would be more fun if there was a third pedal and I could have rowed my own gears, but a superfast shifting automatic is a fair compromise.
The Giulia's interior is not quite as idiosyncratic as one familiar with Italian cars would expect. The starter button attached to the steering wheel is cool, as is the liberal application of carbon fiber on interior trim. The short front doors and strange seat placement put the B-pillar right in your line of peripheral sight. The dial that controls the media system doesn’t feel as substantial as it does on the comparable German performance sedan. In fact, it feels more Chrysler-parts-bin than it does $77K luxury performance car.
Regardless, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a special car and if the platform is actually shared with the next-gen Chargers and Challengers, those too will be special. --Wes Wren, associate editor
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We've argued that, from hot hatches to muscle cars to German super sports sedans, there’s never been a more bountiful era for enthusiasts of all stripes and budgets. Driving all of these really great cars is one of the perks of this job, but the reality is that I’m not instantly enamored with each and every one.
Basically, there are cars that may or may not be out of my price range but are definitely worth considering if you have the cash, and there are cars that make me go, “Whoa, I really need to figure out how to afford one of these at some point.”
Those latter cars are few and far between. This Alfa is one of them. It’s beautifully designed, tastefully styled, goes like hell, makes great noises (in race mode) and it has a certain liveliness that, unlike a BMW M-car, you don’t have to be sprinting toward triple digits to taste.
More than any of that, though, there’s something about this car that is, for me at least, deeply exciting. I think it goes something like this: There’s a reason Alfa Romeo is a storied name. Certainly I enjoy driving vintage Alfas whenever I get the opportunity. A 6C 2500 SS Coupe by Touring is right up there at the top of my list of cars I’d put in my dream garage.
But until the 4C -- which is awesome, but a bit of an oddball when it comes to fitting into its rightful place on the Alfa family tree -- and the new Giulia, I didn’t really have a new Alfa to get excited about. I mean, sure, I drove a rental diesel Giulietta (imagine a slower, weirder-looking Dodge Dart) around Italy two years ago, but that was (hopefully) more a symbol of Alfa at its soul-crushing nadir than an indicator of the marque’s once and future potential.
The Giulia is not perfect, but it’s great, and it proclaims that Alfa can still get it right and create something to stir the senses.
I’m sure the whole Alfa mythos plays into why I like this car so much. I got a kick out of doing a dramatic retelling of the Legend of the Quadrifoglio for everyone who asked about the giant badge on the side of the car (there were many). I am sure my appreciation for this car's looks -- plus that desire to have an Alfa of my own generation to get hyped about -- made me overlook over some of the charming quirks other writers here and elsewhere may erroneously refer to as “flaws.”
Perhaps most telling, I would actually consider buying and wearing Alfa Romeo-branded apparel in public.
Now, I'm not going to pretend reliability concerns are inconsequential when it comes to these cars. Alfa has a steep hill to climb when it comes to public perception -- a steep, icy hill. I haven't heard about many Giulia problems since a fairly rocky rollout; perhaps the bugs have been more or less worked out. Would fear stop me from buying this car if I had the money? Easy for me to say since this is all academic, but I really doubt it.
Maybe that makes me something other than impartial. I’m not going to claim my bias toward this car is a bad thing, though. If we can’t admit, and even embrace, the fact that buying a 505-hp sport sedan is something of an emotion-driven semi-irrational experience, what the hell do we have left?
Oh, right, I almost forgot: Why on earth doesn’t this thing come with a manual? It's absolutely a no-brainer. Please fix this, Alfa. --Graham Kozak, associate editor
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There are bunches of little, annoying things with this new Alfa, some of which are probably due to the fact that this particular car has been driven hard since birth. Even with those, the good far outweighs the bad. But does it present a true challenger to the established players like the BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C63, even though it’s smaller than both? Let’s discuss.
Walking up to this ride at the curb or in a garage, the first thing you’ll notice is that it looks like nothing else on the road. The combination of curves and sharp angles looks coherent, and those five-hole, five-leaf clover wheels that show the huge carbon brake discs beneath are a sight to behold.
Inside, the styling is correctly subdued. Alfa could have gone corny like Fiat or too serious, like Mercedes or Aston, or Chrysler. But it’s all black and carbon fiber, with barely any buttons or jewelry. It’s frickin' perfect. The big screen sits in the center and everything is controlled through it. And there’s a knob for volume that’s also used to skip songs. What more could you ask for?
However, inside is where the nits start to show. So I tried to use the automatic starter and when I got in, sat down -- nice, snug seats, by the way -- there was a check engine light and an “electronic throttle” something warning. Not the best way to make a first impression. Well, second impression, I drove this car on the launch in California. Thankfully, after a few cycles on and off that night, the lights went away. I guess they fixed themselves! I didn’t feel anything wonky, which is why I continued to drive it.
The main screen restarted itself twice in two days, once when I went over a big bump, so that’s troubling. I also heard a handful of squeaks and rattles from the interior. This car only has about 3,000 miles on it. Still, it’s a tester, which means it gets thrashed by everyone in the Motor City, so maybe that had something to do with it. Concerning, though.
The throttle is sensitive, which means smooth takeoffs, especially in dynamic mode, are hard to do. The auto stop/start function makes it doubly hard considering it rumbles to life and jerks forward simultaneously. It does it less in auto mode, but it's still a little jarring. Same thing on the smooth stops: It slows, slows, slows, then bang, full stop. The Giulia has an eight-speed auto, which surprised me considering how much it felt like a dual-clutch transmission.
Now, forget all of that. This car is sweet to drive. Power from the twin-turbo six is plentiful no matter when you plant your right foot. Those bastards across the ocean get a manual setup, something we can only pine for. Still, the auto shifter is in the proper, up is downshift format, and the big paddles on the column rarely get too far from your pinkies to grab them. The big hunks of metal also feel solid in the hand, like you could bang on them all day without any flimsiness. Shifts are DCT quick without any lag between gears in dynamic or race mode. In auto, it’s surprisingly smooth.
That goes for the suspension, too. In dynamic and race modes, it borders on too stiff; it borders, but it doesn’t cross. In auto -- we’re talking about the DNA mode switch here -- it cancels out the bumps immediately. It might be the biggest change I’ve ever felt from sport to soft.
The exhaust note is fantastic, despite what Wren said, though it should have its own button. If I want a soft suspension, sporty shifts and a loud exhaust, I should be able to do that. If I want slow shifts, a quiet exhaust and rock-hard suspension, I should be able to do that, too. Maybe it needs a customizable mode?
Race mode turns the traction control off, something that is noted on the dash, but some people forget. It will sometimes light up the tires at inopportune moments. The V6 pulls strong through any gear and the brakes are like anchors on the wheels, something I noticed a ton after bleeding, checking, bleeding and checking my own failing brakes on my Mustang GT.
The steering is so quick, as fast as anything I’ve felt. There’s not a lot of road feel, but directional changes are immediate. I told Mrs. Road Test Editor that it’s good for darting around traffic; she wondered why anyone would want to “dart around traffic.” I told her one of the differences between boys and girls -- everything is a contest, including dicing up traffic.
It’s deceivingly smooth at speed. I normally take a certain interchange at about 75, come out at 80 mph. I was near triple digits in this without really noticing. Effortless speed, as they say.
The Mercedes C63 S starts at $73K; this is at $74K, and the base BMW M3 stickers for $64K. Graham and I were debating if that price warrants talking about, or if people buying in this range care. I don’t know if they do, but I still think it’s fun to talk about. The C63S has 503 hp, this has 505 hp and the M car has 425 hp. I suppose even if one is scrounging to find his or her dream car, saving for an extra few months to get that extra few grand isn’t a big deal, in which case I’d say it falls within the right range. But if you're looking for the most powerful car for the money, it would have to be the Merc or Alfa; that extra 75 hp comes cheaply. Right now, in that range of cars, I’d probably go with the Alfa, partly because they’re not ubiquitous yet, but also partly because I think it’s the best car out of the three. --Jake Lingeman, road test editor
Options: Driver Assistance Launch Package including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, infrared windshield ($1,200); premium audio ($900); Monte Carlo blue metallic ($600); 19-inch wheels ($500); carbon fiber steering wheel ($400)
ALFA ROMEO GIULIA
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $73,595
AS TESTED PRICE: $77,195
POWERTRAIN: 2.9-liter DOHC twin-turbocharged V6, RWD, eight-speed automatic
OUTPUT: 505 hp @ 5,600 rpm; 443 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3,822 lb
FUEL ECONOMY: 17/24/20 mpg (EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
PROS: Looks like nothing else on the road
CONS: Stop/start system is intrusive, electrical nits
Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-reviews/2017-alfa-romeo-giulia-quadrifoglio-review-germans-should-be-nervous#ixzz4x75okIHR