The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio doesn’t need to reinforce its credentials – they're already well-known. A subtle mid-life facelift will, however, remind Australian buyers that Alfa Romeo can design a beautiful sedan, and which is as fast as its aggressive styling indicates.
The giant-killing, Nürburgring challenging, twin-turbo V6 engine remains – generating 375kW at 6500rpm and 600Nm between 2500-5000rpm – as does the eight-speed torque converter automatic, but there’s now an optional Akrapovic titanium exhaust system, which not only looks stunning thanks to its carbon-fibre tips, but also adds to the aural theatre.
The driveline also remains unchanged, with Alfa’s sharp and focused rear-wheel drive platform doing its best to harness the mountain of power and torque. An LSD is standard, as is the carbon-fibre drive shaft.
There are new paint finishes available – Montreal Green for me please – and smaller detail changes to the grille, and LED lights. An extensive Mopar accessories catalogue means you can add lashings of carbon-fibre to sharpen up the exterior even further if you want to.
Pricing has been rationalised also, and in a move that bucks the trend of almost every other new or revised vehicle, Alfa has brought the price of admission down instead of justifying a creep upwards. Instead of starting in the mid-140s before on-road costs, the Giulia Q now starts from $138,950 before on-road costs. That sits the hi-po Giulia neatly beneath its main competitors on price.
|2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio|
|Engine||2.9-litre twin turbocharged V6 petrol|
|Power and torque||375kW @ 6500rpm, 600Nm @ 2500-5000rpm|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||8.2L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||11.8L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||5-star|
|Warranty||3 years / 150,000km|
|Main competitors||BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||From $138,950|
It doesn’t matter the angle, or the light, the Giulia Q is a stunning execution of sedan design – aggressive, yet subtle, and undoubtedly beautiful. This segment isn’t decided on style alone though, and that’s why the Giulia needs to back that design up with numbers, and fortunately it does.
Still, when you’re trundling round town or admiring your investment in the garage, style is almost as important as substance. Almost. And you'd be hard pressed to argue the case for a more stunning sedan than this one.
Inside the cabin, the 8.8-inch infotainment screen is now touchscreen, in addition to the retained rotary dial that you can use to control the system. There’s wireless charging in the centre console and on test, Apple CarPlay was faultless.
According to Alfa Romeo, the new system is faster, features sharper graphics and has new performance data features. To the eye, the graphics certainly look cleaner and clearer, and the system was as fast to respond to inputs as the best we’ve tested.
There are now more useful cupholders, the wireless charging pad also works as a secure storage point for large smartphones, a redesigned centre console, new perforated seat trim and the option of either green or red seatbelts. A full suite of standard safety gear is also a part of the portfolio, as well as upgraded brakes, Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber, the leather and Alcantara trim and a Harman Kardon audio system.
There’s not a lot of room in the second row if you have tall occupants up front, but that’s par for the course with any sedan in this segment to be fair. The front seats are beautifully sculpted, trimmed tastefully, and supportive. You feel like you’re seated in a sports car up front in the Giulia, not a garden variety sedan, which is exactly the race car feel Alfa was going for.
If you look back through our reviews of the Giulia Q, we’ve always been a fan of Alfa’s super-fast sedan at CarAdvice. The fact that it's as beautiful as it is, makes it hard to dislike it in any case And then you drive it...
There’s never been any doubt that it will appeal to the Alfa faithful, which is obviously a crucial piece of the puzzle. However, the company – both here in Australia and at HQ – knows that to truly succeed, it must also conquest sales from the other more established players. Namely, those that wear M and AMG badges. Whether that is the case or not remains to be seen. There’s no doubt though, that the performance on offer, along with the sharp pricing, delivers a strong starting point.
Alfa Romeo quotes a combined fuel use figure of 8.2L/100km on the test cycle, and after an equal amount of enthusiastic driving and city cruising, we used an indicated 11.8L/100km.
Not bad for a powerful V6 with this much performance. It’s a sensational rhapsodic reminder that V8s aren’t the be all and end all, even for a lover of bent eights like me. This is a V6 engine of the very highest order, with a soundtrack to match.
Every time you get behind the wheel of the Giulia Q, you’re reminded of the performance potential. You’re also reminded that it is indeed a special car. Which is exactly as it should be. It could be the sharp steering, the snappy gear change as the revs rise, the raspy exhaust note, or the way it feels like it’s always waiting to be let off the leash. There’s a sense of occasion with every drive.
The engine loves to rev, and it does so effortlessly. The intrinsic balance and precision of the chassis means you’ll be looking for twisty roads at every opportunity, and the Giulia will eat them up and fire them out beneath the rear bumper with consummate ease.
I reckon Alfa Romeo has struck a neat balance between ride comfort (non-negotiable around town), and handling performance (a prerequisite for a performance sedan). It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn close.
In traffic, the eight-speed automatic reminds you that it has been tuned for flat out redline shifting, as much as it has tooling about. It’s not jerky like some DCTs can be mind you, but it does feel like its more directed at sports performance at low speed.
The brakes are a feature you’ll need to get used to – in that their prodigious performance comes at the expense of ultimate of low-speed smoothness. It’s not immediately easy to get accustomed to using them smoothly in traffic, but their real-world ability at speed more than compensates for that. Measuring 350mm out back and 360mm up front, they are cross drilled at both ends and feature four and six-piston calipers respectively.
When you do find a twisty road, the inherent joy that comes from pushing a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sedan is immediately evident. It’s an absolute hoot to work hard on a twisty road, and the Giulia never feels unhinged or manic. The snarling exhaust note accompanies the rising revs as the turbos come on boost and acceleration builds.
At speed, the automatic is sharp, fast and precise, and while a manual would be intoxicating, there’s nothing wrong with the auto in a performance sense. Choose the sportier driving modes, and the Giulia rewards exactly as expected.
That the Giulia can handle so precisely at speed, and ride as comfortably as it does, is genuinely noteworthy. The relationship between car and driver though, felt most noticeably through that beautiful, almost old-school, thin-rimmed steering wheel, is where the Giulia most distances its rivals. It’s one thing to set a lap time or a 0-100km/h record, but it’s another thing entirely to reward a driver with real engagement, and the Giulia does that every time you get behind the wheel.
The Quadrifoglio is covered by a three-year/150,000km warranty with services required every 15,000km or 12 months. We'll spend more time working through the various drive modes when we get one back through the garage, but there's a change in character befitting the DNA system that Alfa employs. You really do need a racetrack to properly explore the limits though.
There's little doubt the Giulia Quadrifoglio remains a potent and desirable performance sedan. It looks the part, it feels special when you drive it, and it's properly fast. Can it tempt those buyers who are hell bent on buying one of the established German options? That's the key that we'll have to wait to find out.