Is the four-leaf clover justified on this potent saloon?
Alfa Romeo seems to be back, and with the Giulia and Stelvio it seems to be back with a bang. But while the Giulia is an excellent executive saloon, the Quadrifoglio version takes that and cranks it up to 11. This is going to be a rapid ride.
Because there is over 500bhp on tap. It’s 503bhp to be exact, brought to you courtesy of a turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine. You can hit 191mph, after passing 62mph in just 3.9 seconds. This is, without doubt, a performance saloon, but has Alfa finally managed to make a car that lives up to the hype, up to the numbers?
To put those numbers in perspective. The Quadrifoglio can outdrag either a BMW M3 or a Mercedes-AMG C 63 and it’ll outrun them at the top end too. You can pootle about in lower modes, like Natural or Advanced Efficiency, and at that level it’s all quite smooth although the gearbox can be a bit unsure what it’s doing. But crank up to Race mode and the eight-speed auto transmission snaps into action.
It will snap all the more if you use the big paddles to change manually. It sounds terrific, with a barking howl on the way up, and some lovely crackles in between shifts.
But that’s almost what you’d expect if not hope for with an Alfa, but what you really, really want is some inspired handling to go with that. And the Quadrifoglio handles with rare excitement. The steering is quick and precise, and you can put the car into a corner with full confidence at full chat. The front end grips, while the rear end does its thing thanks to a clever diff on the rear axle. You can steer it on the rear if you want, but this is one grippy, tenacious, supple saloon.
The brakes lack a bit of feel but there’s no doubting the efficiency of the optional carbon ceramic brakes. Handy and reassuring with this much thrust on offer.
To add to the sporty feel, the driver’s seat is set low in the cabin, with the driver gripping a really tactile steering wheel. Not all the switchgear is so good, some of it feeling a bit cheap and not really right in a car like this. But there’s a wealth of superior materials elsewhere, including carbonfibre trim and leather-wrapped dash pads.
There’s a rather cool 8.8-inch infotainment screen that lives behind smoked glass and just magically appears, but actually it’s not that terrific in operation as it gets a bit muddled and confusing. But it looks good, and that’s the main thing.
Getting in and out isn’t that easy thanks to everything being low, from roofline to seat bases, but once you’re in there’s decent room for adults front and rear. The boot space is about par for the course but you can’t make it better with 60:40 folding seats since they’re not even an option.
As yet we don’t have prices, but they won’t be low, nor will servicing or running costs, but they’ll probably be on a par with a BMW M3. As standard you get a host of nice kit including xenon lights, cruise control, sat nav, leather and Alcantara seats and Bluetooth, as well as automatic city braking technology and pedestrian detection.
You won’t really need that last one – the pedestrians will be watching you closely.