Motoring expert Alvin Thomas takes Alfa Romeo’s flagship sports sedan – the Giulia Quadrifoglio – for a spin.
If you were to ever stumble upon the Alfa Romeo website, you’d see that the engineers peg their latest sedan offering, the Giulia ‘QV’ Quadrifoglio, as a “Powerful Sports Sedan”. But nothing irks us more than a manufacturer underrating its own product, because this sedan reeks of automotive perfection. It’s also the best car we’ve driven… ever.
Maybe it’s something the brand’s PR can consider adding to their website. But really, the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV is so good that this writer is currently sifting through the Oman and UAE car classifieds to buy one second-hand.
What Alfa Romeo engineers intended when they created the Giulia QV is beyond us, but if they were indeed heading for the super-sedan milestone, they’ve achieved that – and by the looks of it, by some margin too.
The results speak for themselves: if you ignore the specially-tuned two-seater Jaguar XE SV Project 8 sedan, the Giulia QV sits as the fastest production four-door and four-seater sedan to lap the infamous Nurburgring racetrack in Germany.
It’s unmistakeably Alfa Romeo in the way it chases records. Things are kept subtle and graceful yet you’d be surprised to know that underneath its rather spectacular-looking skin lies a Ferrari heart.
And, it’s not just the Ferrari-derived engine we’re talking about. There’s a whiff of Ferrari from the moment you take to the wheel. Its understated character – blended with raw performance – makes this quite the sports car or dare we say, supercar.
At the forefront of it all lies the quirky but striking design. Yes, it’s artistic but not the most aesthetic. But, it’s clear that the chisels on the bumpers, the bumps on the hood, carbon-fibre trim on the lip, and vents on the fenders and hood are all meant to channel in cool air into various parts such as the two turbochargers and carbon ceramic brakes.
Yet it all comes together to form something truly majestic… in an Alfa Romeo-ish way.
Even the posterior, which comprises simple wedge-like tail lamps, is completed by a massive diffuser and quad exhausts that are deliberately stacked upon each other. The result is an oddly cool-looking sedan – perhaps the coolest one we’ve seen in decades.
The interior keeps in line with Alfa Romeo’s new-age mojo; with analog speedometers, clean dashboards, neatly knit leather surfaces, and an easy-to-use infotainment screen with the brand’s own user interface. But there’s more: carbon fibre panels comprise much of the interior; from the door panels to the dashboard and the center console.
Meanwhile, you receive carbon-fibre sports bucket seats up front and rear, all finished in a blend of alcantara and fine Italian leather. As expected, the seats are rock solid, translating the road’s undulations onto your hinds with so much vigour that you’ll find yourself yelping in pain.
Space is on a par with something along the lines of the BMW M3 or the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG; albeit, the numbers show that it outdoes both. Boot space is somewhat restricted at 363 litres and there’s no option to fold the seats flat. The result is that there is only space for about four small suitcases.
As disappointing as that sounds, it only harks back at how the Alfa Romeo intends to live to its premise as a performance car.
Underneath that curvaceous carbon-fibre woven hood lies Ferrari’s sweetly-tuned 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6. It’s a litre shy from the actual eight-cylinder engine seen on the 488GTB and the GTC4 Lusso T, courtesy the lack of bore of the two cut cylinders here.
Even so, the resulting power and torque figures are mind-bogglingly terrifying for someone to drive this daily. A stout 505 horses and 600Nms of twist are cranked out along a wider rev range than most forcefully-induced motors.
The result is then put down (thankfully) to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic that shares courtship with an electro-mechanical limited slip differential.
It’s a marriage made in heaven – no doubt. Pump the gas beyond the 3,000rpm mark in the ‘Race’ mode – which switches off ESP, traction control, and even the collision systems – and you’ll inevitably pulverise the rear tyres into smoke and skid marks on the road. Nearly all of the torque is supposedly channelled to the back in this mode despite the intrusive differential.
Ironically, the otherwise silent – if still soulful – exhausts only really open up in the ‘Race’ mode. So, if you’re planning on showing off your whip to your counterparts, make sure you leave space for guts with some loose trousers.
We did give it a go. Alright, we confess: we found ourselves driving in this mode constantly. But the grip offered by the 245/35 and 285/30 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, coupled with the carbon ceramic brakes allowed us to indulge in some brave driving.
Things were kept legal but it’s not difficult to enter a slide midway through the corner, especially if you miscalculate the pressure to the accelerator. It’s an oversteer-happy Italian ballerina for all the right reasons. Surprisingly, and despite the staggered tyres, we didn’t come across any understeer.
The steering is a quick ratio one that will need some getting used to. It’s still well-weighted and is one of the fastest responding ones we’ve experienced to date. We would say it’s almost on a par with that of the 812 Superfast, even though feedback is vague.
Perhaps it’s an amalgamation of all this that makes the Giulia QV an approachable sedan once you spend a good 50 hours with it. At no point were we afraid to push it beyond its comfort zones.
The car’s compliant chassis is brought alive in anything past the ‘Dynamic’ mode, when the suspension and steering combine to form something truly phenomenal. It’s not even the blistering way it accelerates to 100kph in 3.9 seconds that amazes us. It’s the exhilaration of a car that can rip apart modern-day supercars and outdo them in the corners unlike any other super-sedan we’ve ever tested before (including the M3 and C63 AMG) that seals the deal.
Alfa Romeo’s absence from the mainstream automotive scene was made up some time ago when they came up with the 4C supercar. But the fact that they’ve extended the cause to their sedan lineup – and by margins we never quite expected – only goes to show how relevant of a manufacturer Alfa Romeo is.
We never thought we’d say this. But this may very well be the silver lining of 21st Century motoring. Your turn, automotive world. Prove us wrong.
• Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6
• Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
• Power: 505hp
• Torque: 600Nms
• Carbon fibre trim
• 19-inch alloy wheels
• 8.8-inch infotainment screen
• 14-speaker 900W Harman Kardon system
• Lane departure warning
• Alcantara upholstery
• Traction and stability controls
• Parking sensors
• Reverse camera
• Radar-guided cruise control
• Steering-mounted controls
• Active aero splitter