By on December 21, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (505 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 443 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

17 city / 24 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

13.8 city, 9.6 highway, 11.9 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $72,000 (U.S) / $87,995 (Canada)

As Tested: $89,845 (U.S.) / $103,995 (Canada)

Prices include $1,595 destination charge in the United States and $2,595 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

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.

You can see examples here and here.

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.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoligo

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.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoligo

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.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoligo

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]

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48 Comments on “2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review – Unstable Beauty...”

  • avatar

    I’m torn on this car. I love the style (hell, I love that it has style), I love the driver focus, and above all, I love that this car has a personality. I just wish the personality wasn’t so fragile.

    Any plans to try out the base model?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I am hoping myself or one of the staff can get in a Ti or base at some point soon, yes.

      • 0 avatar

        Personally, I have feeling the sweet spot in the line is the Ti. The flaws in “quality feel” become a lot less glaring at a $45,000 price point.

        At $80,000, the QF is up against stuff like the BMW M3 or Mercedes C-class AMG, and both of those cars absolutely feel like money.

        And if you want my vote for unsung hero in this class, I’d suggest the Infiniti Q50. Twin turbo six for $40,000? Damn.

        • 0 avatar

          And … the M3 can be had with a stick-shift, so there really is no contest among some buyers.

        • 0 avatar

          The Q50 has some faults too, but it drives very nicely with the digital suspension option.

          Won’t be nearly as powerful as this though.

        • 0 avatar

          Personally, I feel the sweet spot is looking at the sourpuss faces of the M 3 and M 4 owners I’ve left in the dust with my Quad. It’s embarrassing to read nonsense articles like this that “worry about reliability” when the BMW’s I’ve owned have suffered from fuel pump issues, sub frame cracks, and more electronic issues than old school Jags with Lucas electronics….the stigma of the Italian car may be something you want to promote, but it ain’t the truth….C YA BMW….it’s over..

      • 0 avatar

        Dear Tim….some real reliability concerns…



        3) Common Issues and problems with the BMW 3 series E90 and N52

        Believe me….I could go on and on and on…I’ve personally lived through all of these …..BMW = Big Money Waste

  • avatar

    In the exploration of my options before settling on my Golf, I drove a RWD Giulia (planned on leasing). It was an amazing test drive, you’d never guess it was a turbo 4. The only let downs was that the transmission was a bit clunky at low speeds and the fact I couldn’t take it home. Just a ball to drive and since it would be mostly me in the car, the space issues weren’t a concern. Just didn’t want that much of a car for now. But it was tempting, I can only imagine the Quadrafoglio cars.

    But if you haven’t experienced one of these, you should if you can. I didn’t stop by the BMW store to checkout a 3 series to lease as I had planned after I drove this. No way I could after Giulia.

  • avatar

    Judging by the aforementioned reliability issues, even with journalists ( a big no-no), I expect to see these on buy-here-pay-here lots in 3 years for $7500…

  • avatar

    It’s pretty but I have to get to work in the morning…the reason I quit driving interesting OLD cars was I got tired of forever chasing my tail with mechanical and electrical gremlins, and I surely can’t spend time worrying about issues with an interesting NEW car.

  • avatar

    That’s the Alpha Romeo MO: Steals your heart, then breaks it.

  • avatar


    (I must go find our Savior 3800 to cleanse myself.)

  • avatar

    Edsel in the front, Hyundai in the rear!

    Seriously, nice looking machine. I’d keep staring, too.

  • avatar

    It’s not fair to compare the materials quality to the M5, a car with a base price over $100,000.

    Compare it to an M3.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just the quality of materials – a M3 is built far more solidly. So is the C43 AMG Benz. You’ll feel that clearly just by interacting with all of these cars on a showroom floor.

      Alfas just don’t “feel like money.” I can’t describe it any better than that.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s the Ferrari heritage “you buy the engine and they toss the rest of the car in for free”.

        If I could have one with a stick there would be a Giulia in my garage right now. Not this one though, too extreme for me, I would be perfectly happy with the 2.0T.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    That face is as disruptive as anything Lexus has set loose on the public. This is an ugly car.

    But a very interesting one. In the Buy-Drive-Burn ranking, this is Drive. If I were on the compact sport sedan leasing carousel and had any tolerance for some unexpected warranty work, I’d head straight to the Alfa dealership even if I were shopping the lower turbo-four end of the range. It would just have to be in something other than white.

    Shame there’s no manual available, if there were a car in the segment that should have one, this is it.

  • avatar

    I know manuals make up less than 5% of new car sales. However, I think they would make at least 25% of Alfa Romeo sales, should they offer one. They are really letting down a big portion of their potential clientele. Manual on the 4-cyl Ti and the chances of me being a customer grow very good. No manual, and I’m seriously thinking a Mazda 6.

  • avatar

    Lazy writing: “Alfas are historically unreliable. This one wasn’t. Nevermind, I’ll just continue the narrative because I can’t come up with anything else interesting to write about.”

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      I believe Tim struck a nice balance between “only fools ignore history” and “hopefully Alfa is no longer foolish because apart from that the car’s pretty great.”

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Claiming a car from a manufacturer with a troubled history is “reliable” because you got through a three year lease without problems is what I would call moving the goal posts. Insisting that a car is reliable because it made it through a short-term review without breaking when other outlets haven’t had such luck is throwing the goal posts out entirely.

  • avatar

    Scary that we are thinking a whole week with a new car and no problems is a good thing. Maybe you were just hypnotized by the 500hp?

  • avatar

    That rear shot says “Chrysler 200” to me.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    I live in LA, and I see these *everywhere*, so clearly people are not being put off by reliability taint. But then, with all the money sloshing around here, it’s almost certainly owners’ third car. So there’s that. The Maserati Levante is also ubiquitous, which gives you some idea of people’s notions of practicality here.

    As for the Giula’s styling, I beg to differ. It strikes me as entirely bland and generic. A BMW 4-series is a Lamborghini by comparison. This car is just a bauble for the well-off. No ordinary middle class person in their right mind would buy one.

  • avatar

    I think if I were going to buy a compact sports-luxury car that doesn’t actually bring luxury to the table, I’d probably go with an ATS-V with the 6 speed manual over this.

    • 0 avatar

      I currently own a QV and have owned an F80 M3.
      I’ve had a chance to drive an ATS-V with 6-speed manual and it is an excellent choice. I would pick and ATS-V over an M3 any day.
      QV – for my preferences is significantly better than both M3 and ATS-V.

  • avatar

    Sounds like you wanted to publish a scathing cirticism but this Quadrifoglio disappointed you by not allowing you to do so …

    Even though “car never stuttered” is “fantastic to drive”, its “a focused performance machine” with “handling …sharper than Don Rickle’s wit”. “Not only is it pretty” it has “wonderful brakes” and “steering that’s …direct and responsive”.

    You somehow managed to make it all about perceived reliabiliy.
    Your mind was already made up and even though the car did all of the above it could not open a closed mind :(

    The Truth About Cars – yeah right!

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree on this. I was in the situation where I mulled over whether to get this car or not. I talked to the salesman about how the history of the brand and the early issues with this specific car are difficult to overcome in one’s mind and the salesman understood and wasn’t trying to pretend that this car was not going to have issues. This is especially true since the dealers are far and between for any repairs needed. For me personally the dealers are not that far but still they are in neighboring towns and I would be looking at basically wasting half a day on dropping off the car and another half a day on picking it up, half a day in terms of working hours 3-5 hours. If you have to do this once every 6 months it’s OK but every month or more would be too much of a hassle.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, you are justified in taking into account the convenience factor of a dealer being in your vicinity. However, inconvenience or convenience does not mean unreliability or reliability.

        Ford used to be “Found On Road Dead” but now they are among the more reliable vehicles – so we don’t focus on their reliability issues from 20-25 years ago. KIA used to be a joke but has now improved significantly. These Alfa Romeo vehicles are brand new platforms and other than the gremlins usually associated with every brand new platform, they are as reliable as any other complex high-performance vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I try to go into every review with both an open mind and an awareness of my own biases as an enthusiast. If anything, I was worried about being too biased IN FAVOR of the Quadrifoglio — my two very brief track stints had showed it to be wonderful on track.

      But given the fact that multiple press loaners failed while being tested, and given Alfa’s previous reliability problems, it would be a dereliction of duty to not mention it.

      It’s about being honest — the car had a reputation for failure, but with me it didn’t fail despite making odd noises. I’m glad it didn’t — no one wants something to fail just so it makes a better story — but you can’t really cover Alfa Romeo without talking about reliability. At least not yet.

  • avatar

    Unstable beauty? Sounds like my ex-wife.

  • avatar

    Tim, your lack of objectivity is laughable. Your desire to promote a falsehood about reliability of Alfa Romeo vehicles is equally laughable. The incidents you highlight relate to press vehicles that were not properly prepped (software updates) and given to automotive journalists for testing. This was unfortunate, but is not at all the reality of living with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I know because I own one. I have in fact 6400 trouble free miles on my car and love everything about it. The current BMW products are German Toyota Camrys. Vague and indifferent steering, no soul and absolutely no responsiveness. If you had reviewed this car honestly, you would never interject your bias into your review. Sorry Tim, but the truth is the truth and this car blows BMW away….

    • 0 avatar

      “Your desire to promote a falsehood about reliability of Alfa Romeo vehicles is equally laughable.”

      You’re talking about “objectivity”? Saying of your Giulia that you “love everything about it” immediately brings your objectivity into question. In contrast to Tim’s even-handed review, your blatant, over-the-top bias in favor of Alfa – after your gloriously triumphant 6,400 miles! – is entirely more laughable (like the guy here who never fails to broadcast the amazing wonders of Buick, no matter what the subject is). ‘Quite obnoxious.

  • avatar

    If I were looking for a new hi-po 4-door, this would have to be on the list to try at least. It seems more a modern incarnation of a E36 M3 saloon than the current F80; and that is a good thing. Almost all current hi-po cars try to simulate car video games much as car video games try to simulate hi-po cars. Alfa’s doing something different and I do appreciate it; especially so if they offered that ZF manual option on these rides stateside.

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