Alfa Romeo

Lucky Charm: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

You wouldn’t bring her home to your mother. You wouldn’t mention her at work. Your friends might notice that you’re not around as often. But if they knew, they wouldn’t blame you. She captured you with her unique eyes, her sultry curves, and her raspy voice. When you’re out in public with her, people tend to notice. Most of them just look at her, but you’ll occasionally get a passing nod of approval. She might not be the most reliable or the most exotic, but she has a flair for spicing up even the most mundane things. She has a little Gucci dress for every occasion and she’s always waiting to show off her wild side. Her name is Giulia.

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is the Italian sport sedan that has many car enthusiasts hot under the collar. Alfa’s second act of their US return, following the niche 4C, is the more broadly-appealing Giulia sedan. There will be skeptics for sure, especially around reliability. But during our week of driving the car exhibited no faults or error codes. This “four leaf” version, a symbol of Alfa’s racing heritage, represents their performance variant. The product catalog speaks of emotion, passion, and soul. These are cliché Italian motoring terms that don’t really make sense until you experience them first-hand. There is just something about an Alfa Romeo that you can’t quite put into words. And then there are numbers. The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V6 produces 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft torque, making it more powerful than the BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V, or Mercedes C63 AMG. Its 8-speed automatic transmission sends is connected to a torque vectoring rear differential, sending the car to 60mph in less than 3.8 seconds.

There might not be a better steering wheel in any sedan on the market today than the optional carbon fiber steering wheel in the Quadrifoglio. The contouring, diameter, and thickness are all top notch. Even better, the buttons aren’t positioned where you might accidentally hit them in a spirited maneuver. And how cool will it feel when you hit the red, wheel-mounted start/stop button? Large aluminum paddle shifters are mounted on the column for extra exotic car flair. Even without the optional Sparco carbon fiber racing seats, sitting at the helm of the Quadrifoglio feels like a unique experience. And you might not miss those $2,750 seats, since the standard buckets are adjustable and plenty supportive while holding you in place with their alcantara inserts.  A set of white-on-black analog gauges have a classic appeal. And unlike almost every other model in the segment, the Alfa’s infotainment screen is nicely integrated and cleverly contoured into the dash. No stuck-on afterthought here.

The Quadrifoglio is only available with an automatic and it’s controlled by a very BMW-like shift lever. No matter what the gear lever looks like, it’s a fantastic gearbox. Leaving the car in Natural, it offers smooth seamless changes. Move up to Dynamic and each gear is held longer with upshifts happening a bit snappier. In Race, shifts boarder on dual-clutch quick and have a ferocity you don’t expect with a torque converter. We were let down, however, by the grabby brake pedal. The aggressive Brembo setup arrests speed confidently, but the initial bite is sudden and often jarring to passenger. Even after a full week, we still found ourselves bitten by the Alfa’s brakes.

Alfa Romeo’s DNA settings are separate from the suspension, meaning the dampers can be set independently from the powertrain. In the softest setting, the Alfa rides more comfortably than the M3 Competition Package. In the firmest setting, it’s on par with its rivals. That wider range of adjustability means you get the best of both worlds – a usable daily driver and a performance machine all at the push of a button. Combine the adept body control with the phenomenal forced-induction V6 and the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio quickly starts to stand out in its class. There is some turbo lag, but once the boost peaks at nearly 35psi, the acceleration is relentless. The engine, which almost sounds like a raspy 4-cylinder at idle, takes on an entirely different demeanor under pressure. The burble and bark becomes intoxicating and exotic six cylinder note. You’ll find yourself cracking a window or two at every underpass.

The Quadrifoglio is a joy to throw around. It’s tremendously balanced and responsive to inputs, but not overtly harsh or frenetic. The grip is immense thanks to the 8.5” front and 10” rear wheels and performance tires. You’ll find yourself abandoning your responsibilities to chase that open stretch of road for a chance to spool up the turbos or searching for that undulating back road to experience the deftness of perfect weight distribution. Immediately, you’ll know you aren’t in a German sportlichen limousine or an American sport sedan. That’s because, above all, the Alfa Romeo just feels different in a way that can’t quite be described. If the Giulia didn’t’ wear the Alfa badge or sport the signature green clover, it would be a sport sedan lauded for its technical capabilities, superb engine, and exotic design. The fact that it comes from a storied Italian marque adds a certain gravitas.

The well-worn joke among auto journalists is that you can’t be a true enthusiast until you’ve owned an Alfa. It usually comes about when discussing how long someone has spent fixing an old project car. But the mantra rings true for this modern Alfa as well. So if you catch her whispering your name, if some dull day you suddenly find yourself curious, or if you’re tired of the standard performance sedan offerings, why not answer the call?

Christopher Little

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
$72,000
Vulcano Black Metallic Exterior Paint $600
Driver Assistance Dynamic Launch Package $1,200
Harmon Kardon Premium Audio System $900
Quadrifoglio Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel $2,500
19-inch Dark 5-Hole Wheels $500
Destination Charge $1,595
As Tested MSRP $77,195

Related:

A Tale of Two Cars: 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Photos Courtesy FCA:

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