Italy’s newest sports sedan was on display in front of the Alfa Romeo marquee and it acted like a beacon, with a sizeable crowd drawn to its muscular stance and blood-red hue.
One brave punter even climbed inside and hit the ‘Ferrari inspired’ starter button, having just enough time to prod the throttle pedal, which had the audience oohing and ahhing at the 2.9-litre twin-turbo’s pops and crackles, before he was booted out by security.
I too couldn’t resist the QV’s charms – I had yet to see one in the metal – and I’ll admit I spent far longer drinking in its juicy details than watching people on horseback swinging wooden mallets.
I liked what I saw, and I wasn’t the only one. Alfa fans are a colourful and talkative bunch and their knowledge of the all-new Giulia was impressive. It was when I mentioned that I worked for Wheels, however, that the crowd’s interest sharpened.
Suddenly I had an audience and almost as one, several people asked earnestly, “But is it any good?”
Their wide eyes and open faces were almost desperately hopeful, but there was a deeper emotion lurking in the shadows. Alfa’s recent history of bowling up pretty but frustratingly compromised sports sedans (I’m looking at you, 156 and 159 – both of which showed glimpses of brilliance but fell shy of greatness) means its fan base is clearly wary of another false dawn.
I can relate. A good chunk of my youth was spent in my best friend’s cherry red 156 and later, my step dad’s 156 GTA. Both were great, until the inevitable electronic schizophrenia set in (windows would open and close of their own accord), and bits of trim started to fall off with alarming frequency. Eventually my mate’s engine imploded; the GTA was sold before its issues became terminal.
So, some Alfisti caution is to be expected, and annoyingly, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t reassure the group at the polo about the QV. I hadn’t driven one and at that point I didn’t know if the promising tastes Wheels’ journos had experienced in Europe would translate to Aussie roads.
Well, now we know.
I couldn’t attend this month’s cover comparo, but I felt a warm sense of happiness when I received a text message revealing the result. It simply read: ‘Alfa wins’. I’ll admit they’re words I didn’t think Wheels would be printing any time soon. In fact, if I’m honest, I thought that against such stiff competition in the Mercedes-AMG C63 S and BMW M3 Competition, the QV would be sent on its way with a “good, but not quite there” clap on the shoulder.
The fact it didn’t only win, but did so convincingly, shows just how capable Alfa’s new €5bn Giorgio good?” platform is. It also makes Alfa’s promise of two other specialist sports cars spun off the same platform (which is even configured for a mid-engined layout), something of a mouth-watering prospect.
So while it might be too early to declare “Alfa’s back, baby!”, the QV’s achievement is deftly described by Andy Enright on page 60.
I know I’m not alone in hoping the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s victory isn’t a one-off, but rather the start of something special.
The eagle-eyed among you may notice the word ‘Acting’ has been removed from my title in this month’s issue. I’m now offi cially the 14th editor of Wheels; an achievement that feels as surreal as it does daunting. I’ve been a reader since my early teens, so here’s my promise: to ensure Wheels retains its reputation as the best motoring title in the world.