The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Is…
Taking Things Seriously

Spine-tingling refreshing. It’s not normal to begin a car review by giving away the final verdict, but I took this one a little bit more personal than most.

You see, Alfa Romeo is a brand that I have a special love for. When my father picked up his Alfa 75 – the last of the rear-wheel drive cars from the brand (SZ/RZ were loosely based on the same platform) – back in the ’80s, it cemented my already present affinity for cars. I was only nine years old at the time, but hearing the four-pot sing is something that I’ll always remember. The 75 made my dad and myself fall for the brand, but that was short lived; not long after it all went to crap for Alfa Romeo.

The move to front-wheel drive models drove a series of big fat nails in the coffin of what was to all Alfisti the best car brand in the world, a car manufacturer that had dominated racing and created great driving machines for the road. But even during the period that lasted a good three decades, the Alfisti never lost hope. They stuck with the brand from one crappy car to the next, hanging onto the short moments of satisfaction they delivered. Only when the right person took over the reins at Alfa Romeo did the tables start to turn for the better.

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The 4C was the first small step in the right direction and a promise of things to come. But it wasn’t until the Giulia surfaced that the ‘Alfa is back’ feeling started to spread through the car world. I spent a whole week with this white Quadrifoglio, and it was a week of surprise, disappointment, satisfaction, irritation and outright lust.

Yes, I can report back that the true Alfa Romeo owning experience hasn’t really changed much!

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Jokes aside, what Alfa has done here is something very special. If this is what its first high performance sedan looks like, the future is definitely bright.

But the main question here is, would I take one over a BMW M3? It took me a whole week to figure the answer out, and it will require you to read through my ramblings to find out the answer. So let’s get started.

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Ever since Ugo Sivocci used it as a good luck charm on his Alfa Romeo race car in the 1920s, the green four-leaf clover – or Quadrifoglio Verde – has been loosely used to designate higher performance variants in the lineup. From now though, it should become the recognizable label like M cars for BMWs, RS models for Audi, and the AMG versions of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

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Slowly but surely Alfa Romeo is restructuring itself and backing it all up with proper driver-oriented cars that are well built and offer everything that’s expected in today’s highly competitive performance car market.

I was genuinely impressed at how un-Italian the Giulia felt; there’s some real solidity to it. Even the cabin, which I’ll touch on later, has a very teutonic feel about it that again hints at the market the brand is going after.

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In doing so, Alfa Romeo has managed to make a very pretty four-door sedan and pump proper aggression into it for this ‘Q’ model.

There are many details that reinforce that premium feel, like the abundant use of carbon fiber in areas including the side skirt trims and the trunk spoiler.

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The coolest, however, is the carbon fiber front splitter that only descends at higher speeds to help cut lift. How R31 Skyline!

Power For The People

Open the hood and its lightweight double-skin carbon fiber construction instantly impresses. But it’s what’s in the bay that really defines this machine.

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Alfa took things really seriously here, seeking help from Ferrari to create an engine capable of delivering savage performance. Essentially this is one of Ferrari’s new generation, modular (just under 500cc per cylinder) 90-degree V8s with two cylinders lopped off to create a 2.9L V6. The wide angle of the banks and resulting offset firing order makes the engine vibrate quite noticeably at idle, but the space within the vee has opened up plenty of room for twin single-scroll turbochargers.

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Aside from developing 505hp and 443lb-ft, the engine’s coolest trick is how it cuts out one bank of cylinders at lower loads to save on fuel. Call it a requirement or expectation in today’s age, giving cars like these a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality all rolled into one.

But it’s the outright explosive potency of the motor that will leave you more impressed, or initially confused perhaps.

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Modern turbo six and eight cylinder force-fed engines deliver instant torque and explosive acceleration as soon as you get on the gas – something that’s hard not to love. In the Giulia the rev-happy Ferrari lineage is definitely there; the engine loves to pull all the way to redline and is happiest above 5,000rpm. Evident turbo lag is followed by a fierce mid-range, not unlike an old school Japanese turbo engine from the ’90s. I quite enjoyed it, but at the same time found myself in situations where I’d like to have more instant power, or not have to shift down.

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When it hits you better brace yourself, especially if you are in Race driving mode which is the only way to get the full sound of the exhaust. At the same time though, Race model cuts traction and stability control, which is fun but scary at times – especially in third and fourth gears in the wet. I’m not sure if this was possibly an oversight by the engineers, but I haven’t driven a car that wants to light up the rear wheels more since I had a Corvette ZR1 to play with. This is an Italian drift machine!

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Thankfully, Alfa’s engineers equipped the Q with 6-pot Brembo front calipers and smaller 4-pots at the rear for a proper performance brake setup. But while stopping power is there, they’ve really messed up on the feel.

This is not because it’s a badly engineered package, but rather it’s the first brake-by-wire system in the world. Yes, you read that correctly, and I was surprised too. In fact, I had to read up on it afterwards as I couldn’t comprehend why there was such terrible feedback from the brakes at low speeds; it was almost impossible to come to a smooth stop without having the car jerk on you. In this car the hydraulic system is electrically actuated dependent on the position of the middle pedal. Sound scary? It is a bit, but the biggest concern here is why use such a new technology on an important model like the Quadrifolgio.

It was one of the few things that I didn’t like about the car. At higher pace there is no problem, but around Tokyo it was frustrating to say the least. There is a carbon ceramic option available too.

Curiously, the rears had the biggest secondary calipers for the electronic parking brake that I’ve seen on any car – supercars included. This left me a bit confused as well.

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The handling, however, is sublime. This car is on-point with its setup; it’s firm but really comes alive at higher speeds. There’s virtually no body roll and the turn-in is pin sharp with the car only running wide on some real tight corners that I entered way too fast. The Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are bubblegum-soft and are insanely grippy to the point that I had to wonder if the car would become a handful if you happen to downgrade and fit cheaper rubber. The rears are always only a throttle stab or some unsettled weight transfer away from breaking loose, and depending on how brave you are you can go crazy with smoky drifts all day long.

Rewarding Through The Turns
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Giulia Quadrifolgios coming into Japan are only available with the ZF 8-speed automatic, a transmission that I have no complaints about. Alfa programming makes it dual-clutch-fast and satisfyingly snappy in Race mode, but given how much torque this car already produces I do wonder how the auto will hold up when aftermarket tuning lifts engine output.

One thing I found a little strange is the sound coming from the exhaust. I’m used to German cars farting on upshifts and crackling and popping on the overrun, throttle release and downshifting, but the Giulia only seemed to reward with noises when going up the gears. Maybe it’s something that can be addressed with engine management mapping in a future update.

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The interior and equipment was possibly a tad too un-Italian. It’s all nicely designed and pieced together, but there aren’t any details or quirks that you’d expect to find in an Italian car. Instead, you find a somewhat conservative approach, which is perhaps Alfa’s way of playing it safe to appeal to a broader audience.

You get used to it though; the interior all works well and it’s a great place to be with even if I’d loved to have tried the optional carbon bucket seats.

The LCD center screen in Japan doesn’t come with a built-in navigation system as Alfa wants you to use Apple Car Play or Android Auto. I don’t really care about that; what I do care about is the absence of performance displays to show turbo boost or various temperatures. Instead, and very strangely, you get a mode that shoes you how efficiently and economically you are driving your 500hp sedan. I don’t want to see that, I want to see when and how often my turbos hit their peak of 2.5-bar!

Tokyo By Night
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With this story (and the video we’re about to share with you below) we wanted to show how a Japanese car enthusiast might use his brand new Giulia, taking a day off work and hitting up deserted mountain roads in Hakone and then cruising around Tokyo at night.

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Put the Alfa DNA selector in ‘A’ mode and the car purrs along at the lowest possible revs, the trans shifts up as soon as it’s able to with each gear change imperceptible, and the exhaust valves close to muffle the raucous V6 mutes as you glide quietly listening to music through the Harman Kardon surround sound audio system.

We wanted to put a 500hp car in an environment that it shouldn’t feel comfortable in, but driving around Ginza the Giulia Quadrifoglio showed us that it’s the epitome of the modern performance car, instantly transformable at the turn of a dial.

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The drive-by-wire brakes and oversized shift paddles that completely hide the indicator and wiper stalks are irritations, but there’s nothing that Alfa Romeo has really gotten wrong with this car. That a compliment I never really thought I’d hear myself give to a new Alfa.

I was very sad to hand back the Giulia; I fell for it and wanted to have more fun with it. It’s exciting and special as a real Alfa should be without any of the negative things that we’ve all jokingly come to expect from the brand.

So would I take it over an M3? Yes, I would. It feels faster, and while the handling feel might not be quite as good, it’s close enough and possibly more scary to drive on the limit.

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Over the next five years we should see the fruits of FCA’s $5 billion investment into this new platform and series of engines. There’s rumored to be four to five models including a possible 6C, a long awaited 166 successor, and the one I hope for the most – a wagon variant of the Giulia Quadrifoglio to take on Mercedes-AMG and Audi RS models.

One thing is certain, Alfa is back and it’s serious about making awesome cars; Alfisti rejoice. And on that note, it’s time to see and hear the Giulia in action – hit play above to watch Ron’s video.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

Video by Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

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72 comments

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1

Sounds great, love the POP!

2

...ugly as sin

and those shamrocks...WITHMOG

3

"ugly as sin" my ass get lost -_-

4

Those are four leaf clovers.

5

I hope that eventually, Alfa will have some sort of "MSO " or "Exclusive Manufaktur" program for their vehicles.. Just imagine how beautiful a Quadrifoglio would look in a classic British Racing Green with a tan leather interior, or in a beautiful pearl yellow.. I could also see them offering a tribute livery package, and customers could have their Quadrifoglio pained in the classic Rosso Red with white accents, which would pay homage to the Red/White livery seen on the 155 Touring race cars.

6

Pretty sure this is not the first car with brake-by-wire. I know for a fact my 2017 NSX had it when I took delivery of it in December 2016...

7

Other facts for you: the Giulia Q started production in April 2016, the NSX in May 2016. Hence, yeah, you’re wrong.

8

Video! Finally!! Hallelujah!!!!!! Nice to hear the sound of that thing. Hope you guys do many more videos... especially at places like Tsukuba, Idlers, Nismo festival... awe heck, actually everywhere!

Author9
Dino Dalle Carbonare

We will certainly be trying our best!

10

So everybody needs money and you wish to do some speedtisement or speedhuntertisement.
Alright and just do right

Here my humble opinion in bad english if you are interested.

Music crappy.

Showing Carbon hood in multiple times like oh god oh god it has carbon fiber,
so what ?
In this pages we see world most exotics builds, thats not interesting.

Old Top gear does this nicely. Put car in track, wear, tear, abuse. Do some mockery, say something good about.

Otherwise you just ruin yourselfs.

11

not a very humble opinion, next time truy not to start by insulting someone's passion. the moment you say "everyone needs money", you imply or assume that this is only done for the money. i always thought, scepticism is welcome, when it comes from concern, criticims is a full package, good AND bad. howver, it's a "hate" message when it's prely negative.

these guys aren't perfection but they're doing an amazing job, it took hard work to get here... show some respect

12

ruin themselves?.....you just played yourself instead -_-

13

WTF?

14

Not surprised that all traction controls are off with sport mode on, it's even you're good (or crazy) enough or just go easy and enjoy a peaceful cruise. The only thing that scares me is the "electric" brakes, a sensor malfunction and you're doomed, still prefer old school hydraulic system (don't know all the details about the brakes by wire so maybe i'm wrong).
I can't see it beating Germans YET but soon it can at least compete with them, as you mentioned it's back but needs some time to restore reputation and test reliability.

Keeping the M3 or changing to this model, you'll always have that carbon trunk spoiler.

15

Only thing missing from the video was Italian blazer and scarf

17

also missing suspenders

18

Lol I'll make sure Dino has the proper attire next time ;)

Author19
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Suspenders? Maybe when I drive a Morgan with accompanying leather hat and goggles

20

Wassup.

21

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Is…

... matching white and green japanese license plates ?

22

Mercedes-Benz in 2001 introduced the first brake-by-wire system on a road car with the R320 SL.

Author23
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Meant on sports cars. If you say that then all hybrid cars by definition use EBSs

24

What I'm trying to say is that alfa romeo it's not the first brand using brake-by-wire system in the world.

25

My Alfa lust began with the Hörmann Alfa Romeo 155 Q4 Competizione. It was DTM goodness on public roads. Sadly there aren’t many photos of it online but Road & Track did a fantastic “tuner’” article (March 1995) and they photographed the car nicely.

I loved that 155, a few years later while being stationed in Germany I came across a 155 Q4 that just needed a bit of TLC. A little paint and some detailing and it was fantastic. I even bought a 155 V6 for the lady so I wouldn’t have to share the Q4.

Great article Dino, video looked great. It had about a 50% I love Bass feel to it. Which is 10% more than what I think it needs for a journalistic video. Great job nonetheless and thanks for the great content.

Oscar

Author26
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks for the constructive criticism! We'll definitely continue to play around with the format, this was just something more to announce that we're putting more attention to the video side of things :)

27

actually waiting for the Giulietta replacement model. heard it going to use the same platform as the Giulia, the Giorgio platform. if it come with a Quadrifoglio ver. it will be a 500HP RWD hatchback. what is not to like.

Author28
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Fingers crossed! I'd love to see this brand churn out models that people really want to own and dream about!

29

Yes! Please include a video with your features, whenever you are able to! Whether it be press/test cars like this, or one of the tuned/modified cars that you show us. I think including a short accompanying video, will further engage the reader and let them connect with the car in a way, by seeing/hearing it in action.

Author30
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Glad to hear you guys think the vids are important! Will work hard to get this done as much as we can

31

Is it just me, or do the wheels look like they've already been caked in brake dust? Or is that just the wheel color itself?

32

Thats what i thought too

33

It was lol. We were. um Testing? before filming so it was indeed caked in brake dust

Author34
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes it was driven pretty hard! Too much fun haha

35

I really liked the video, and what was the song in the video? It just sounded great to roll up to car meets in.

36

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. The song is called Red Lavander

37

Love the review, great words as always. As an hardcore Alfista, I would love to see more content on Alfas, especially the older models, even from the 90's, which can easily be found in Japan. Keep up the great content.

Author38
Dino Dalle Carbonare

I've been wanting to hunt out more Alfa specific shops here in Japan, there is definitely a big following with these cars and the Japanese angle as we've seen at events like idlers is as unique as always

39
tofufox@instagram

nice, I def will try to pick one of these up on the used car market when I am older :3

40

Same chassis they are using for the RH drive challenger.... good things are coming apart from this animal.

41

It's a great car to drive but not to own. It will break down all the time.

Author42
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well time will tell on the reliability side of things

43

...the worst name for a car I have ever heard.

44

Worse than the Toyota Corsa Moa Super Windy G?!

45

Worst name? It's Italian for crying out loud

46

Oh really?

What about all those ridiculous alphanumerics the Germans conned the world into thinking was a mark of sophistication?

At least Alfa gave it A NAME.

Author47
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Giulia was used before by Alfa. I'm all for bringing iconic names back

48

2.5 bar? I assume they're using the absolute pressure figure which is a little bit disingenuous.

49

AMG uses a ~2 bar to get a bit under 400hp out of their 2L engine (A45 AMG).

50

I think that's another one that uses absolute pressure rather than gauge pressure. My point is that it's wank to use absolute pressure as ~1.01 bar of the total is made up of atmospheric pressure.

51

Also not a fan of car company's using absolute pressure to measure boost. For starters, it makes their engine designers look awful if it needs that much boost for that horsepower...

VW do something similar with MK7 GTI & R and it drove me nuts.

52

Actually, I may be wrong on the AMG, my point still stands about the Alfa though.

53

Dino,

Nice video, but too much bass.

Anyway, how do you mesh driving in Japan with The First Rule Of Italian Driving?

You know, the one that proclaims that, "What is behind you IS NOT IMPORTANT?"

Author54
Dino Dalle Carbonare

As long as it's not a police car chasing you down haha

55

yasss more short clips

56

Brake by wire? How about no, how about why?

Author57
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Probably because it allows the stability and active restraint systems to be even more finely programmed and tuned but it just didn't feel like they've ironed out all the little issues

58

I don't even care. Trusting something as critical as the brakes to a computer... yikes. Especially a Fiatsler computer. Just... I've heard of dangerous cars but this sounds more like suicide to me. Or possibly vehicular manslaughter, depending on when the electronics involved decide to randomly stop functioning and how fast you're going at that point.

Author59
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Engine management and most passive/active stability/safety systems seemed to be all done by Bosh. The only Magneti Marelli thing is the infotainment I believe

60

Great vid.. compliments your still shots perfectly. Music was classy just like the car.. which purred through the Japanese woodland like a rare white tiger. More dialled in vids like this one would rank highly on my lunch time entertainment list.

Author61
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks Rash, Ron did an awesome job with the short time we had to put all of this together!

62

Great review, great photos and video. I liked the editing and soundtrack. Mellow but funky. It matches the car. The exhaust sounds sexay! I can't wait to see what tuners will do with this platform.

Author63
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes will be exciting to see how much more power they can extract from it. I'd like to more lowdown torque, although these modern cars are getting harder and harder to tune and break into the complex electronics and not disrupt anything on the LIN bus

64

I've been waiting for your review on this car. I love this car, and for a competitor in the M3, RS market, it's nice to see something Italian in there. I see your point with the interior, it looks more German than Italian but it still works. I totally recognized your night shoot location, and ironically enough it was for the ZR1 you mentioned earlier. Love that spot. Also, I do like the idea of a video feature like you and Ron put together for this. I would however like to hear more car and less music, otherwise it's on point. Great job guys!

Author65
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks for your feedback! I do plan to do a bit more talking on camera, as well as more driving. It's crazy how much time and effort all of this takes

66

i like all of this stuff but when are we going to get another update on Project GTR other than that, keep up the good work

Author67
Dino Dalle Carbonare

I promise it's coming!

68

OK, cant wait to see it!!!

69

Hey Dino I contacted you guys a long time ago and shot a feature that never got published on my friends Formula Atlantic car. I have a video im putting together with a 911 RSR and a bike that are going to race each other.

Shot you guys an email under the general inquiries, but I wanted to make sure you guys get the email. Might be a cool thing for you guys to shoot? I'll email you the details. Thanks! -Chris

Author70
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Hey Chris, sounds interesting, shoot me an email for sure!!

71

It's backside reselbles the Maserati Grand Tourismo... still good looking though. I have to echo your sentiments, the inerior is not the most Italian aspect of this creation.

72

I'd argue the speed dependant front splitter is actually harking back to the Alfa 90 which had the same feature, and not a Nissan...

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