2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review

The Italians deliver power and driving purity in spades


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Deliciously sexy and menacing exterior styling, unpretentious badge, razor-sharp steering and chassis, intoxicating engine and exhaust notes, acceleration worthy of a supercar, addictive to drive, everyday practical and sporty interior.
Negatives: B-pillar obstructs sight, tight back seat, quirky alarm system, no folding rear seat, no manual transmission available.
Bottom Line: If you want a truly dynamic and rapid four door with an exotic racing heritage, don't look at BMW, Mercedes or Audi. This is the sports sedan king-of-the-hill that eschews superfluous luxury and opts for the pure driving experience. It's blindingly quick, beautiful to toss into every curve you can find and, at the same time, is easy to operate and comfortable to helm. Nothing about the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio feels like a compromise, and it reminds us why we love cars so much. Yes, this thing is that good.
These days, we haven't been seriously enamored with sports sedans. It's clear that if you want one from BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or Infiniti, you have to accept the fact that there's generally a heavy dose of luxury that has a tendency to numb the experience. In comes the new Alfa Romeo Giulia in ballistic Quadrifoglio trim (in case you were wondering why an Italian car has a four-leaf clover, it was a symbol of luck for Alfa Romeo race car driver Ugo Sivocci back in the 1920s).

This car is Alfa Romeo's return to the sedan market in America after more than two decades, and only after bringing just the very niche 4C sports car and roadster recently to our shores. The car goes up against heavy hitters like the BMW M3, the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the Audi S4, all big names in powerful four doors. Is the new Alfa good enough to make them sweat? Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

10

 

To drive the Quadrifoglio is to love it. Alfa Romeo has created a fine distillation of driving excitement that no other modern sports sedan can match. It's pretty clear that this car isn't meant to be driven aggressively, and everything about the car's internals have clearly been chosen and designed for that purpose. On the flip side, though, Alfa Romeo clearly thought about the fact that most drivers will use it on a daily basis.

Ride Quality: The active suspension is great. In everyday driving for the two less aggressive drive modes, it manages bumps well but feels on the firm side. The ride quality with the active suspension in the Quadrifoglio is on the firmer side but offers a decent amount of comfort. The ride skews firm, and there's an average amount of road noise that sneaks into the cabin. In the Giulia, the throttle response is as immediate as your right foot can move even in the calmer settings, and the suspension never goes harsh, even with the drive-mode dial set to Race. In fact, regardless of the driving mode, the Quadrifoglio rides uncommonly well, and the aggressive tires never sing an intrusive thrum.

Acceleration: The Quadrifoglio makes excellent use of its 505 snorting horses. There's some lag in the Natural and Advanced Efficiency drive modes, but when you send the selector to Dynamic or Race, everything changes. Acceleration is strong and authoritative. The 8-speed transmission is rapid fire, and the throttle response is immediate in Race mode. Alfa says it'll hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, but it's been tested a couple of tenths faster. That's serious territory, and it's faster than a Porsche 911 GTS that costs over $50K more.

Braking: Our tester didn't come with the $5,500 carbon ceramic brakes, but the iron Brembos are seriously strong. The pedal is progressive with great feel, but when you come close to a stop, you have to give the pedal more pressure to bring it to a final stop. It's odd but not a deal-breaker. .

Steering: Steering is quick and precise. Move it a hair, and the car responds in kind, but it's never nervous, twitchy or weirdly off-center. The car's connectedness to the road via the steering is like nothing we've driven lately. It's exciting and rewarding.

Handling: Body roll is utterly minuscule, and cornering is precise and flat. Send it into a turn hard, and the chassis complies beautifully. This car is a street razor.

Technology

8.8

 

We didn't expect a lot from the Quadrifoglio in terms of in-car tech, but we came away surprised. The system doesn't do anything revolutionary, nor does it attempt to mimic any other system. Everything looks good, is easy to operate and all the essential functionality to make a sports sedan into an everyday driver in terms of infotainment is there. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not offered.

Infotainment System: The navigation system is displayed on a sleek-looking 8.8-inch screen and works well.The infotainment menu structure is commendably straightforward. Scroll to an on-screen selection and either press the knob or rock it to the right like a joystick to access submenus; tilt the knob to the left to intuitively back out of a menu. Simple. We only wish the plastic knobs felt more expensive and that either the screen was larger or that some of the generous unused display space were filled with larger text.

Controls: Believe it or not, this one of the interior's strong suits. The climate control and audio buttons/knobs are all centrally located on the stack and easy to manipulate. The three knobs on the center console (drive mode, audio, and display screen controls) are all easy to actuate and sized differently from one another to avoid confusion. The huge paddle shifters are the biggest and best we've ever seen and a joy to toggle through. The only issue we had was the difficulty in getting the shift knob into neutral. We sat at an automated car wash for at least a minute to try to figure it out. We're still not sure how we did it.

Bluetooth Pairing: No pairing issues with our Android and Apple smartphones. The menu and controller made it simple to find, too.

Voice Call Quality: Solid voice call quality with no transmission, clarity or volume issues.

Styling

9.9

 

Everyone who got a close look at the Quadrifoglio loved it. The brand hasn't had enough time in the states to develop a pretentious reptuation like the German brands have, and anyone who knows about the Alfa Romeo racing history adores it. Inside and out, the Quadrifoglio is pure sports, and that's highly commendable given the recent dilution of the sports sedan.

Front: The angry headlights and the famous Alfa grille look great together, along with the vents for the turbos. Everything's nicely blackened for sinister effect.

Rear: The long wraparound taillights are handsome, and the punctuation by the carbon fiber spoiler, big and functional diffuser and the huge quad pipes is nothing short of awesome.

Profile: Nothing's overdone here, and we love it. Well-proportioned front and rear with a spacious greenhouse. The yellow brake calipers and the Quadrifoglio emblem and brake vents give it the right amount of visual punch.

Cabin: You can't call it luxurious, especially compared to BMW and Mercedes, but we don't care. It's pure sport with real carbon fiber trim, the best steering wheel we've seen in a while and grippy Alcantara seats that are peppered with red stitching. Oh, that tapering display screen frame is also brilliant.

Comfort

8.6

 

Compare the level of comfort between the Quadrifoglio and Alfa's 4C roadster, and it's like night and day. Okay, maybe that's not a fair comparison. But our tester was excellent in terms of driver comfort. The interior is surprisingly practical for such a sporty automobile.

Front Seats: These are just the right sport seats for this car. They hold you in place perfectly, provide great levels of adjustability, have ample comfort and look proper for this beast. Too bad they don't provide cooling for those hot track days.

Rear Seats: The rear seats don't provide very good legroom, but the headroom is good thanks to a properly domed roofline. Three adults cannot fit back there. At least the seats are comfortable in terms of cushioning and support.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The only noise we noticed was at higher speeds from the performance tires. The build quality feels very good, and there was no vibration or harshness.

Visibility: Visibility out front is very good, but the thick B-pillar is set forward more than we're accustomed to and tends to obstruct the view when lane changing. The C-pillars are also thick, but they're not overly so an don't impede spirited driving.

Climate: Dual climate control works very well, and the three-level heated seats are excellent.

Safety

5.5

 

The Giulia in any trim level has yet to be crash tested. Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has crash test results, and since this is a niche car with low sales numbers, it likely will not go through testing at all.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with a rear backup camera, front/rear park assist sensors, blind spot and cross path detection, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, and tire pressure monitoring.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7

 

No one will attempt to use the Quadrifoglio for moving purposes, but it also isn't totally lacking in terms of practical space. Don't look to transport anything large, but also don't leave your daily gear items behind because you think you'll have no place to put them. Alfa did some thinking and came up with a decent compromise.

Storage Space: The sizeable armrest is easy to deploy and can keep your phone and keys socked away. The cupholders are tucked underneath a sliding carbon fiber door, and they're well placed in front of the shifter. Unfortunately, there's no place to put your phone so it's in immediate reach. That's probably a good thing since you should focus on the driving, especially in a car this enjoyable.

Cargo Room: The Quadrifoglio rear seat doesn't fold down, unlike the two cheaper Giulia trims, oddly. Cargo space numbers aren't available yet, but from what we can tell, it's on the smaller side.

Fuel Economy

7.8

 

If you're looking for impressive mpg number here, you're barking up the wrong tree, but at least the Quadrifoglio is on par with the luxury sports sedan segment. If you want decent numbers, you have to drive it in the tamer DNA drive modes, and that's not as fun.

Observed: 20 mpg

Distance Driven: 742 miles

Driving Factors: About 40 percent of our miles were highway miles, so our mpg numbers should've been higher. The problem was that we drove most of our local miles in Race mode, but it was totally worth it.

Audio

9.2

 

Premium sound is almost a prerequisite when it comes to a car of this caliber and price. Our tester's optional Harman Kardon audio was truly delightful, delivering clear, crisp, and full sound without any distortion.



Final Thoughts

The Quadrifoglio was hard to say goodbye to here in our office. All of the editorial staff absolutely loved the car for its excellent driving dynamics, power, comfort and looks. There isn't a single sports sedan on the market today that can deliver this level of performance for the price. The near-$80K sticker price actually seems rather reasonable given the fact that the Quadrifoglio can outrun cars that cost twice the price. BMW and Mercedes owners give it respect, as do the muscle car crowd.

Part of the problem is, however, that it's hard to find places in a major metropolitan area where you can truly exploit the Quad's abilities. That being said, it provides everyday practicality and is comfortable enough for the daily commute. It's truly the best sports sedan in the segment today, and that's quite the feat these days.
Shopping for a new
Alfa Romeo Giulia?