The standard Alfa Romeo Giulia is an attractive four-door executive saloon built to rival the class leaders, BMW’s ever-popular 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz C-class. But both of these cars are available as expensive, phenomenally fast high-performance versions – the BMW M3 and the Merc C63 respectively – so it stands to reason that Alfa would also build its own overpowered super saloon.
Enter the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, sideways. This 503bhp, rear-wheel-drive four-door will hit 62mph in under four seconds and continue to over 190mph, thanks to a Ferrari-derived V6 twin turbo engine. Unlike the standard, Giulia, every Quadrifoglio comes with an automatic gearbox, as well as a lairy ‘Race’ mode button that switches all the electronic driver assistance off.
It’s probably the most interesting looking car in its segment, but not as beautiful as Alfas of old, and that offset number plate isn’t for everyone. And with prices starting at £60,000, this is a far cry from the upmarket, sensible saloon that the standard Giulia looks set to become.
Here’s a list of pros and cons.
Space in the Alfa Romeo Giulia
An odd feature of the Alfa Romeo Giulia is the lack of split-folding rear seats as standard. This reduces the overall versatility of the car, despite above-average boot shape usefulness and a decent 480 litres of luggage space anyway. Most Quadrifoglio owners won’t be using their car to transport big heavy loads very often, though.
Rear seat passengers are a more likely eventuality. There’s enough legroom for four adults to travel in reasonable comfort, but don’t bother adding a fifth on longer journeys – the pronounced transmission tunnel makes the middle seat feel crowded.
Those in the front get a snug but well-designed cabin that doesn’t feel cramped. The door bins are narrow, but there’s a useful central cubby box and the cupholders are hidden beneath a neat sliding panel.
Comfort in the Alfa Romeo Giulia
Driven sensibly, the Quadrifoglio is about as comfortable as any other executive saloon. The car’s motorway characteristics echo those of many rivals, with a little wind noise evident when you listen for it but an otherwise calm experience at speed. Even on rough roads, the Giulia rides like a Jag.
You can select a soft suspension setting, even when the rest of the car is configured for sporty driving, without compromising the handling too much.
The standard seats follow in a similar vein – supportive, firm, but not harsh – so upgrade to the more serious racing seats at your peril. But getting in and out can be a problem, with awkward geometry between the steering wheel, door aperture and seat lip.
Dashboard Styling of the Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Quadrifoglio’s swooping dash comes soaked in leather. It feels like a nicely-appointed but ergonomically-focused space, everything within relatively easy reach (of a tall man) and easy to see. Confusion is created by placing the ‘DNA’ drive mode selector very close to the large wheel that controls the infotainment system, but that’s a mistake you only make once.
The infotainment system is gorgeously subtle, invisible until the car is switched on and woven subtly into the dashboard when enabled. The system itself is let down by the odd widescreen dimensions and dated graphics, but it’s far from the worst I’ve seen at this price point – main functionality, like Bluetooth pairing, is straightforward.
Driving Ease of the Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Giulia is a fairly large vehicle, weighing in at 1.5 tonnes. It’s a little longer and wider than a BMW 3-Series and due to the driving position, the car’s extremities can feel quite far away, but it’s not unlike the sportier executive saloons in its low-speed mannerisms.
Visibility is brilliant to the front and adequate to the rear (it’s slightly hampered by the high boot) but overall the Quadrifoglio is much, much easier to drive than most 500bhp cars. The parking sensors on the front and rear are an important feature if you spend a lot of time in town. Only at parking speed (below walking pace) does this Giulia start to make some odd, jittery counterarguments against where you want to put it.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio offers the best driving experience of any four-door on the market. It’s easily the best car Alfa has produced since I’ve been old enough to see and, if we ignore a couple of niggles in other areas, the best driver’s car in its segment. It’s more exciting than the Germans and it sounds like a supercar.
Much of its character hinges on the ‘DNA’ dial mounted on the transmission tunnel. Most drive mode selectors add pepperoni-level spice to the meddlesome locomotion of a Quattro stagioni family wagon, but the Giulia’s ‘Dynamic’ setting (as opposed to Normal and All-weather) is actually pretty wonderful. You’ll probably spend most of your time here, enjoying the crackly exhaust note and increased throttle response from that 503bhp V6.
The steering rack’s precision and rapidity make the Quadrifoglio one of the best cars for windy B-roads.
The Quadrifoglio adds a fourth, hidden setting, a notch further anticlockwise than ‘Dynamic’. ‘Race’ mode removes all the electronic driver aids that have been poised to keep you on the road until this point.
Reliability of the Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo’s bad reputation in this area is somewhat justified. The Quadrifoglio press cars – those loaned by the manufacturer to journalists for reviews – have been prone to problems, with Top Gear magazine in the UK and Jalopnik in the US both reporting breakdowns while the car was in their custody.
I’d be lying if I told you that Alfa Romeo had dealt with its reliability problems. There’s still a big question mark over how well-built these cars are, and I’d anticipate a lot more downtime with a Quadrifoglio than (for example) an M5. The shut lines seem noticeable and the leather seats had started to sag in a test car, which only had four figures on the clock.
The claimed 34 miles per gallon isn’t actually far off what you can expect to achieve in the Quadrifoglio. It’s actually quite an efficient car, which would be fantastic if it wasn’t for the pint-sized fuel tank – 58 litres is small compared to other executive saloons, and driving at European motorway speeds will drain it quickly.
In terms of pure miles per gallon though, it beats the M3 Competition Pack and matches the C63.
Safety in the Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Giulia’s autonomous emergency braking, which is designed to avoid or at least mitigate collisions, is praised. All the child seats are fitted on the left and right rear seats, both of which are equipped with ISOFIX.
All of this is pretty academic when you engage ‘race’ mode, though. A car that sends 500bhp to the rear wheels is only as safe as the person driving it. Far be it from me to recommend a slower version but thisuper saloonon is more powerful than a Ferrari F40 – if you’re worried about safety, get the diesel.