There’s a strong groundswell of goodwill in the UK for the Alfa Romeo brand. Those who have enjoyed the brio and handling excellence of the Italian brand have kept the flame alive, even while the factory have done little to keep the flames fed. But this seems about to change.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a sports saloon in the old Alfa spirit, and this is the most potent example. Just look at it. It’s smaller and lighter than some of its Germanic rivals and the lines are delightfully curvaceous rather than angular. There’s a limited amount of aggression from those quad pipes by the rear diffuser, and the overall effect is of Italian style, confidently delivered.
Under the bonnet is a new engine that is apparently inspired by the V8s of sister-company Ferrari. The 2.9-litre V6 has twin turbos and cranks out 503bhp and 443lb ft of torque. If that’s not a promising start, we don’t know what is.
That power feeds through an eight-speed auto box to the rear wheels via a torque-vectoring module. Which means the chassis had better be pretty good. It is.
We’ll need to check the car out on British roads, not just a delightful racetrack in the Italian sun, but the chassis seems wonderful. It’s a modular design so we’ll be seeing more of it in various other models in due course. But in the Cloverleaf it seems sharp and light. Body panels are made of aluminium and the bonnet is made of carbonfibre, so they’re serious about weight loss.
The result of powerful engine and new chassis is total happiness. This is, big happy sigh, a proper Alfa Romeo, the sort some enthusiasts had feared the company could no longer make. The handling is a wonderful combination of firm body control, delicate ride control and a suppleness and confidence that means you can throw this around with enormous enjoyment.
There’s driver involvement, dynamic excellence and really remarkably fast yet intuitive steering. The combination is truly terrific. The driver is going to be grinning, and that driver is also sitting low down in a very comfortable position in the Alcantara/leather sports seat behind the three-spoke wheel.
The cabin is stylish although the infotainment system is a trifle slower than anything else in the car. Some of the trim is great, some is less so, but overall it seems up to the rest of the package. The noise in the cabin is very nice from that V6 but very nice isn’t always the highest of compliments. It could sound more sonorous and exciting, but at least it performs even better than that. Again, a minor niggle, but the gearbox is also a touch slower than some of the best out there, as it tends to slur a change sometimes instead of crisply punching it in.
Overall though, this is a mighty return to form by Alfa Romeo. A sports saloon that truly deserves that name, that will delight and involve the driver in equal measure. We’re not sure of the final cost but if they get that right then Alfa Romeo will truly have fanned the flames once again.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Location: Balocco, Italy
On sale: September
Price: £55,000 (est)
Engine: V6, 2891cc, twin-turbo, petrol
Power: 503bhp at 6500rpm
Torque: 443lb ft at 2500-5500rpm
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Dry weight: 1524kg
Top speed: 190mph
Economy: 33.2mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 198g/km, 36%