Leading motoring journalist Steven Berry, a member of the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, test drives the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2020.
I remember the first time I clapped my eyes on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio back in 2016 at an invite-only event in Manchester and I immediately thought, “Wow, Alfa have gone back to what they do the best: built a rear-wheel drive, powerful saloon that also looks amazing.” It had been a long time since the 75, too long.
Don’t get me wrong, I have owned and loved two FWD Alfa Romeo 156 models and a GT, but the Giulia took things to a whole new level of promised performance and dynamics.
And while it didn’t disappoint on those levels, I do remember, even back then, thinking some of the interior materials were a little disappointing. Mainly the centre console, where the controls for the infotainment sat. Oh, and the infotainment itself was rather grainy to look at and quite frustrating to navigate around. Not so anymore though, as, miracle of miracles, Alfa has listened to the critics and given the Giulia a make-over for 2020 that means we have, at last, an interior befitting of the greatest sports saloon available today.
Front and centre is a new 8.8in infotainment screen that is now crisp and bright and, I’m delighted to report, the new Alfa Connect System now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Happily, the rotary control for the infotainment is still there in the centre console, although you can now stab a finger at the touchscreen if you prefer.
And just look at this new centre console now; solid-feeling dials, a subtle Italian tri-colour just below the leather-clad gear-shifter and shiny new carbon-fibre all surrounded by beautifully-stitched leather, it now looks like it belongs on a super-saloon.
The new Giulia Quadrifoglio also benefits from tech touches that should, probably, have been available from the outset. There’s wireless-charging for your compatible smartphone, traffic-sign recognition, blind-sport monitoring, adaptive cruise control with lane following and traffic-jam assist for those moments when you’re sat in the commuter-queue dreaming of open roads and A-road chicanes.
There’s not a great deal more that needed fixing but the steering wheel is now flat-bottomed and looks and feels more premium while the cup-holders have shifted their position in the centre-console to become more practical and take a larger cup.
Outwardly, you get the option of an exposed carbon-fibre roof. It always was carbon-fibre, just like the driveshaft and bonnet, but now you can actually see it. The rear lights are now a little darker in appearance too. And that’s about it apart from some heritage colour schemes that are coming later in the year. Just wait until you see a Quadrifoglio in Montreal Green – stunning.
Thankfully, Alfa haven’t altered the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s beating heart. After all, if it ain’t broke.
From the moment you push the bright red start/stop button on the steering wheel and hear the 2.9 Bi-turbo V6 engine burst and burble into life you know you’re about to have a motoring epiphany.
With 510 horses at your disposal and a whopping 600Nm of torque available from a lowly 2,500 rpm you can’t fail to marvel at just how well this Italian beauty shifts – and just how well it puts down that power through the rear wheels. Four-wheel-drive Giulia Quadrifoglios are available, but not in the UK. No matter, who needs the extra weight anyway?
A top speed of 191 mph and a 0-62 time of just 3.9 seconds completes the Top Trumps data card.
The beautifully-sculpted aluminium paddle-shifters are big enough to find easily – even when you have your hands full on a serpentine A-road and I must admit this is the first car I’ve driven where the paddle-shifters make complete sense. Sure the 8-speed box shifts quickly enough in full-auto mode but there is something visceral and immensely satisfying about being more in charge of this superb drivetrain. It rewards you with down-shift pops and growls that very quickly becomes addictive. Just TRY to keep one eye on the speedo.
The steering is quick, alarmingly so if you’re not expecting it or have only driven tractors before, but once you’ve calibrated your own inputs this is another aspect of the Quadrifoglio that is hugely satisfying. Pick an apex, point and go. Before you know it the next one is there and, on the right road, you can get into a rhythm that will make you feel like a driving God.
Of course, you’re being hand-held all the way by the phenomenal chassis, active suspension, active torque-vectoring and numerous driver-aids that the Giulia Quadrifoglio possesses.
If you’re feeling brave, you can use the DNA Pro toggle to go from ‘Jeez! That’s quick!’ (Natural mode), through ‘Help! I-can’t-lean-for-ward’ (Dynamic mode) and onto the sheer terror that is Race Mode where stability and traction control are switched off. Thankfully, the exhaust sound is also louder so no one will hear you screaming.
Joking aside, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is the most accomplished super-saloon out there at the moment and is the one I would have, hands-down, over either the BMW M3 or Mercedes AMG c63, which are both spectacularly good. It’s not just the way the Giulia gets down the road but how it looks and what that badge means to your average petrolhead, it all adds up to many, many smiles per mile.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio was so good to drive from the outset that you could forgive it anything, but now you don’t have to.
AT A GLANCE:
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
OTR Price: £67,195
Engine: 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo
Power: 510 bhp
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic
0-62mph: 3.9 secs
Top Speed: 191 mph
Combined Economy: 26.4 mpg
C02: 240 g/km