Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

PLUS & MINUS

ASH WESTERMAN

Lacks some equipment offered on rivals; is it really quick enough to rule?

Strong, refined powertrain; handling balance; interior; seduction factor Model Engine Max Power Max Torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2891cc V6 (90°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo 375kW @ 6500rpm 600Nm @ 2500-5500rpm 8-speed automatic 1585kg 3.9sec (claimed) 8.2L/100km $143,900 Now

Local circuit work indicates this Italian hero is right on track

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

IN THE pit lane of Sydney Motorsport Park, the so-called ‘King of the Nurburgring’ is looking less like Italian royalty, and more like an honorary and more like an honorary Aussie bogan clown prince.

Alfa development driver Armando Bracco has the new Giulia Quadrifoglio – recently crowned as the four-door ’Ring record holder – pinned on its nose, his right foot mashed to the floor.

The sweet 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 pa-pa-paparps against the limiter, and the spinning rear Pirellis send a flurry of smoke signals that may translate, to anyone fluent in Apache, to “Alfa is back, baby...”

Fortunately there’s an abundant supply of fresh rubber piled high in the garage, and we’ll need it, as our first Aussie drive of Alfa’s new M3/C63-fighter is to be confined to the racetrack. The test cars arrived too late for road certification, so the all-important analysis of ride, refinement, and overall livability on local bitumen will have to wait.

In the meantime, we have to be content with chasing racer Alex Davison around the Gardner GP circuit, and getting a bit of drift tuition from Bracco.

So, first impressions, beyond the local pricing (see right): the styling is seductive, and the cabin is lovely. To my eye, the exterior has less of the overt butchness of BMW’s M3; more a purposeful curvaceousness, with several cool aero details. Inside, it has an understated style but features richfeeling materials and fine design that appear sufficiently special.

Most crucially, for an Alfa Romeo, the driving position does not demand you be some ‘missing link’ creature from a Discovery Channel doco. It’s natural, the seat goes nicely low, and the wheel and aluminium paddles fall perfectly to hand. A manual gearbox is not offered in RHD, for the three of you out there considering the full Alfa nostalgia trip.

No, this sets out to be a thoroughly modern Alfa; the car to spearhead the marque’s rebirth.

You may recall Mike Duff’s drive of a manual version (Wheels, Summer ’16) scaling European summits, and his mention of an awkward shift action and highbiting clutch. No such issues here, and I suspect the eight-speed auto does a better job of masking the turbo lag Duff experienced.

Our car feels properly on boost as the tacho swings past 3500rpm, and the run out to seven grand or beyond to the 7250rpm limiter is strong, smooth and entirely cultured. Perhaps a bit more cultured than I was expecting; the engine and exhaust note from inside the cabin is not the stuff to raise neck hairs or have you shouting “Forza!” Given its ’Ring-record status, I expected a little more fury and feral edge everywhere, actually. It feels ultra swift and entirely coherent, just not quite as quick as the 0-100km/h claim of 3.9sec would suggest.

What does give real hope for its ability as a brilliant road car is the chassis balance and adjustability.

Even in the stiffer of the two damper settings, it doesn’t feel overly screwed down, so maybe this setting will actually be useable on Aussie roads, unlike the borderline brutal Sport+/Race setting on the Merc-AMG C63 S.

The track impressions also gave a sense that the Alfa may have a more fluid, less spiky transition from grip to slip than BMW’s M3.

The Alfa’s Race setting quells the ESC enough to allow full-blooded, tyre-destroying drifts, but the electronics will try and save you if you completely overcook it. Again, this bodes well for road use.

As does the overall cabin refinement, suppression of wind noise, and the feel-good factor for anyone with a weakness for Italian cars. We’ll find out for sure when the QV faces its rivals next issue.

Dash for cash

Alfa’s local pricing for the Giulia QV gives away little to its German competitors.

At $143,900, it’s around $4000 more expensive than the regular BMW M3, but almost line-ball with the M3 Competition (see above.) The Alfa comfortably undercuts Merc’s C63 S, but does lack some of that car’s more esoteric equipment, like front-seat ventilation and around-view camera.

Meanwhile, the QV’s option list is mercifully short: carbon-ceramic brakes, Sparco seats, painted calipers, a trick steering wheel and two different 19-inch alloys.

OR TRY THESE...

BMW M3 Competition $144,615

No questioning its sports-sedan brilliance, but engine acoustics aren’t a unanimous charmer, and the on-limit handling treads an edgy, sometimes unnerving line.

Not quite the ultra-persuasive, harmonious whole it once was.

Mercedes-AMG C63 S $155,615

Brings two extra pots and another litre of capacity to the donk party, yet still only line-balls the Alfa for power (but does add another 100Nm.)

Dampers stiffer than a double scotch in most aggro setting, but you’ll be drunk on the performance by then.