Handing back a car we grew to love
To outsiders, it seems irrational. Alfa Romeo devotees are a passionate lot and the brand seems to generate so much loyalty from fans, it sometimes appears illogical. But for the past nine months, weâ€™ve been one of them, living with a brand-new Giulia Quadrifoglio. And weâ€™re pleased to say weâ€™re now a fully paid-up member of the Alfa Romeo congregation.
The car is the star, and is the reason for our obsession. For starters, itâ€™s a beautiful-looking thing, all voluptuous curves and exciting details. Then thereâ€™s the drive â€“ for the money, we canâ€™t think of any four-door saloon (or coupe, for that matter) thatâ€™s more thrilling. Suddenly. BMW M3s will seem a bit bland by comparison.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
EngineÂ V6, 2891cc, twin-turbo, petrol
TorqueÂ 443lb ft
TransmissionÂ 8-spd automatic
Top speedÂ 191mph
CO2 emissions: 189g/km
There were times when it felt just like a bona fide sports car. thatâ€™s how good the chassis is, how stable and controlled it can be at all speeds, how much feel and precision it delivered through its controls. This is a connoisseurâ€™s car, and no mistake.
And we havenâ€™t even mentioned the engine. An epic 2.9-lire V6 turbo that delivers a heavyweight 503bhp. Itâ€™s incredible, revving freely and sounding outstanding â€“ indeed, there were times when we perhaps wanted even more noise and theatrics from it, this being one of the few instances where a V8-engined Mercedes-AMG C63 has the measure of the Giulia.
The only relative weakness comes when slowing down: the brakes arenâ€™t up to the high standards of the rest of it. Thatâ€™s despite us picking the optional carbon ceramic brakes, which made too much noise, were jerky at low speeds and didnâ€™t even feel all that impressive in terms of overall power.
Even sitting in it is dramatic. Optional Sparco seats feel more like a race carâ€™s bucket chairs, and the carbonfibre backs are brilliant. The driving position is perfect and, if thereâ€™s a weakness, itâ€™s the below-par infotainment system. Even the quality of materials is pretty decent, save for the odd oversight such as the cheap gear selector.
Naturally, the one big question you always get when running an Alfa Romeo is reliability. Andâ€¦ no, it didnâ€™t prove faultless. But it didnâ€™t let us down, either. Three times, the engine went into limp-home mode, but we were never left stranded and the dealer soon fixed it by replacing the turbo overboost valves and part of the wiring loom.
The dealers themselves seemed much better than their reputation deserves â€“ certainly, at least, the ones that we used. HWM in Surrey were particularly helpful, delivering first-class service when we had the hard-worked tyres replaced. Letâ€™s not mention how it was we came to need a new set of Pirelli P Zero Corsas â€“ at an all-in cost of almost Â£1300 â€“ after less than 5000 milesâ€¦
Indeed, tyres, along with fuel costs and deprecation, are all likely to be significant expenses for Giulia QV owners. But most of them seem to be going into it fully aware of this, and thus donâ€™t mind paying a bit extra for their dream Alfa. Again, most of them are devotees, so the rules are different.
Before running it, we werenâ€™t, but this exceptional car has converted us. Even its flaws arenâ€™t enough to spoil it. This is an fantastic machine that, if we were shopping for a super-saloon, would be right at the top of the list. It really is that good.