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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is an incredible driver’s sedan

by Patrick Rall on

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio might be one of the most underrated and underappreciated performance cars sold in the United States.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Maybe it is due to a lack of brand recognition by consumers as Alfa Romeo tries to gain ground in the North American market. Maybe it is because the midsized segment is so packed full of vanilla sedans than some consumers assume that anything in that group can’t be all that exciting. In any case, I recently spent a week behind the wheel of the gorgeous Misano Blue super sedan shown here and I absolutely fell in love with the driving dynamics of the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Ferrari-Derived Power

The heart of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is the twin turbocharged 2.9-liter V6, which was developed by Ferrari, offers 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent towards the rear wheels by means of a paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic transmission and a torque-vectoring rear differential. With the help of the Dynamic Dual Mode Exhaust system, this boosted V6 sounds exactly how you would expect an Italian performance engine to sound, with a sweet, high pitched roar under throttle and plenty of crackle on deceleration.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa claims that this drivetrain will allow the Giulia Quadrifoglio to dash from a stop to 60 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds and while I was unable to time the car on its own, I was able to do some side-by-side testing with my Hellcat Challenger. The Challenger comfortably scoots from a stop to 60 in the high-3-second range and in a side-by-side acceleration test, the Giulia Quadrifoglio was just a bit behind the supercharged muscle car on a short sprint. What makes the acceleration of the Alfa so different than my Challenger is that with the ramp-up of power from the turbocharged engine, launching the car is a more forgiving process. When you stomp the throttle of a Hellcat Challenger in 500 horsepower mode, It roasts the tires, but when you hammer the Giulia Quadrifoglio from a dig, it is far more willing to grip and go.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Just to be clear, I wouldn’t call the Alfa “laggy”, as can be the issue with some turbocharged cars, but the time needed for the engine to reach its peak output aides in a hard launch. Once moving, the 8-speed transmission confidently pops from gear to gear, and when you are in “Race” drive mode, even the automatic shifts are lightning quick. Once the boost hits, the Alfa jams you back into the seat and pulls hard to speeds well past any legal limit, which is rare in the midsized sedan segment, as is the loud, raspy exhaust note.

World Class Handling

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a ton of fun to drive hard from stoplight to stoplight, but this is far more than a straight-line machine. As you might recall, the Giulia Quadrifoglio holds the record for the best Nurburgring lap by a production sedan, covering the huge track in just 7 minutes and 32 seconds. This incredible number was achieved with help from an active suspension system that is adjusted with the DNA drive mode system. When set to “Race”, the dampers offer incredible vehicle control under hard cornering and acceleration, but best of all, they are painfully stiff. I spent most of my drive time in the Giulia Quadrifoglio in Race mode, as I enjoy the stiffness of the suspension along with the other increased performance parameters.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Some cars with a proper race-ready suspension setup are too stiff for daily driving, but the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio offers a smoother ride than you might expect, even on Metro Detroit’s rough roads. At the same time, if you find the Race mode suspension setting too stiff, you can switch to one of the other drive modes, all of which offer softer dampening with a slight reduction in handling capabilities. It is still plenty of fun to drive outside of Race mode, so you don’t compromise that aspect for the smoother ride.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

While carving through the corners of a twisty country road, or the local road course, the Giulia Quadrifoglio sticks to the surface nicely, but more importantly, the twin turbocharged V6 is quick to respond when you throttle out of a turn. When using the paddle shifters, you can keep the RPM levels high, so when you roll back into the throttle while exiting a turn, it doesn’t take long to spool up the turbos and reach full power. In fact, if you hammer-down too hard coming out of a turn, the Giulia will drift, even with the trick rear end working to find grip.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Most importantly, while the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio handles like it is on a rail, that isn’t the top concern for someone shopping for a midsized sedan to drive every day. Most people shopping for a daily driver – even a high performance daily driver – expect the car to be comfortable. When you are driving the Giulia Quadrifoglio gently in normal traffic, it is smooth, quiet and comfortable. There is still a distinct gurgle from the exhaust, but especially when in “Natural” driving mode, this Alfa doesn’t have any shortcomings during the daily drive.

Luxurious, Driver-Centric Cabin

One of the key aspects that makes the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio so comfortable is the sporty front seats, which have deep base and side bolsters to keep the driver and passenger firmly in place during stints of spirited cornering.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The combination of leather trim and the alcantara center inserts looks great and while the seats look very minimalistic, the padding provides the needed comfort for the daily drive. Some might find the bolsters to be too snug, but if you like the feel of a good sport seat, you will almost certainly enjoy the front seats of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The rear outboard seating positions have some bolstering to the base, but it is nowhere near as extreme as the front seats. The rear bench is comfortable for two adults, with a surprising amount of leg and head room for a car of this size.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

When you climb into the driver’s seat of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, it is very much like getting into a high end sports car. The seating position is low, leaning you back a bit and bringing the steering wheel out to you, with the gas and brake pedal being situated out in front of you more than under you. While the huge, metal paddle shifters on the carbon fiber steering wheel provide easy access to quick gear shifts, the actual transmission shifter is only a short reach from the steering wheel.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Possibly more than any other midsized sedan I have driven, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has a cockpit feel that wraps everything around the driver. Even the controls for the sound system are located near the shifter on the center console, allowing the driver to make radio changes without removing his or her elbow from the arm rest. Even the start button is conveniently located on the steering wheel, so once you tuck into the driver’s seat, you really never have to reach beyond arm’s-length for anything.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Finally, in addition to offering a comfortable, sporty feel that can be enjoyed on the track or while sitting in rush hour traffic, the interior of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio looks great. The combination of black leather, black alcantara, red stitching and high gloss carbon fiber leaves to no question to the fact that this is a premium luxury sport sedan.

While the BMW M3 has long been the go-to for drivers who wanted a high performance midsized sedan, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio offers more power for less money while offering incredible handling and an impressive interior layout. My Quadrifoglio test car had an MSRP of $78,890, so this isn’t a midsized sedan that is going to be cross-shopped against the bestselling vehicles in the segment, but as luxury models go, this Alfa offers more bang for the buck than the competitors.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

If you want a powerful, midsized sedan that is comfortable for the daily drive while providing an exhilarating experience in just about any driving situation, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a car that you have to test drive before making your next purchase. If you love to drive and you need a sedan, it is hard to beat this Alfa in just about any category.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.


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