2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review - Unstable Beauty
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
More than a few automotive publications have taken possession of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio for a loan or test, only to have the car sidelined by mechanical or electrical gremlins of one kind of another.
So it was with some trepidation that I took the keys to a Giulia immediately after returning a Stelvio to my local press-fleet driver. I’d spent a week with one Alfa and had no problems; could I do it twice? Or would I be making the “uhhh lots of warning lights are on, please advise” call to the fleet manager?
Spoiler alert: The car never stuttered during its week with me. But bad reputations die hard, and I never did fully gain confidence that the Giulia wouldn’t cause me trouble. Alfa Romeo needs to fix this, and fast, because once you get over concerns about dependability, the Giulia is an absolutely fantastic car to drive.
Note: This review was originally mistakenly labeled as a 2018 model. The car I drove was a 2017 model. I regret the error — TH.
Fantastic to drive hard, anyway. It’s not something that one might want to daily, at least not in Quadrifoglio trim — it’s a focused performance machine, for better or for worse.
The Quad’s specs read like this: 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque come from a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 and drive the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Despite having not one but two short on-track stints in Quadrifoglios earlier this year, I hadn’t really noticed that this version of the Giulia tilts so heavily towards the performance end of the spectrum. If you’re expecting a luxury sports sedan with agile moves, think again – this is a pure sports car.
On that level, it works well. Not only is it pretty – I caught myself stealing glances at it whenever I parked within eyeshot of a window – but the exhaust snarls angrily, the handling is sharper than Don Rickle’s wit, the interior is obviously oriented towards performance over comfort, et cetera. Among the four drive modes is a “race” mode, as if you needed another reminder of this car’s mission.
That mission doesn’t include a luxury/sports balance. This thing wants to play.
When it runs, that is. As mentioned, the Giulia never quit on me, but it made all sorts of odd mechanical noises in certain situations. That, plus its reputation for unreliablity, had me concerned. Of course, these sounds could have been completely normal. Maybe they just stood out because modern cars, even sports cars, often put a premium on sound deadening, but when other Alfa press loaners have been sidelined by gremlins, one tends to be more cautious.
That caution gets tossed to the breeze once underway, thanks to the twin-turbo V6 and the Giulia’s well-tuned handling. Both have a way of making you overlook the Alfa’s flaws. It’s not shocking to report that this thing just scoots – you can blow past dawdlers with just a twitch of your right foot. Want to really piss off that neighbor who never cuts his lawn? Punch it in “race” mode and listen for the glorious backfires. Or, hell, just crawl at 10 mph in race – the burbles are still pretty pronounced. I drove in race mode even at slow speeds just to hear this thing rumble – it’s that good.
I’m a sucker for steering that’s as direct and responsive as what the Giulia offers, and while one of my track sessions was at half speed due to rain, the other was instructive in terms of how well this car carves a line. It’s simple and direct, just point and go. No extraneous weight or lost feel.
Unsurprisingly, the ride is stiff in all four drive modes – you definitely need to adjust for highway driving. It’s not brutal on long commutes, but it’s frisky enough on the freeway that if your daily drive includes the interstate, you wouldn’t pick the Giulia, at least not in Quadrifoglio guise (I have yet to drive the other Giulia trims).
Alfa blessed the Giulia Quadrifoglio with wonderful brakes – I actually stopped short of stop signs on multiple occasions because the binders brought the car to a halt with unexpected skill. That blessing doesn’t come cheap, as the carbon ceramic Brembo brakes fitted on this car are an $8,000 option.
Like the Stelvio, the Giulia is cursed with an infotainment system that is menu-heavy and not nearly as good as the UConnect system that’s available in most other FCA vehicles. The rear seat is tight to the point of being uncomfortable for adults, and the materials generally don’t feel luxurious – this really is a track-focused car, not a comfy grand tourer.
Besides reliability, build quality and material choice felt like the car’s biggest flaws. While I understand cutting weight in order to improve driving dynamics or designing a “pure” sports car that doesn’t meet in the middle of performance vs. luxury, the Giulia sometimes feels cheap in a way that a car with a base price of $72,000 shouldn’t. That may chase away potential converts from other luxury brands.
That doesn’t mean it’s stripped of options. There’s nav, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Harmon Kardon audio, forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, performance seats (deletes the heated front seats), blind-spot detection, rear cross-path detection, remote start, and push-button start, among others. It just means that some materials don’t look and feel as class-appropriate as what might be found on, say, an M5. The $400 carbon fiber steering wheel sure is nice, though.
As an overall package, the Giulia’s isn’t for everyone – and not just because of the reliability concerns. It’s a pure sports machine that doesn’t cotton to comfort. It doesn’t coddle, it’s loud, it gulps fuel, and it makes all sorts of odd noises.
All of those items in that last sentence are what give the Giulia its charm, but for some folks, those will be fatal flaws.
Which is fine. It’s easier than ever these days to build a car that compromises effectively, but sometimes a vehicle purpose-built to fulfill a mission is the more satisfying choice.
As long as it’s running, of course.
[Images © 2017 Tim Healey/TTAC]
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
- ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
- SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
- El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
- Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.