The son of seven-time world champion Michael is edging closer to an F1 drive
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Ah, this is an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglia review for the US. How does it stack up there? That answer is key to Alfa’s future fortunes, as sales in the US will largely decide if the brand lives or dies. First reports from Europe are very positive, but life and terrain in the US is completely different. So we thrashed the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – and then the rest of the range – on some Californian roads and then a track to see how it might fare there. And? The news is good. Very good. On the road, even though the looks are subjective, they work in a US setting. It looks exactly like what it is: aggressive, purposeful, Italian and fast. Other drivers notice it and like it. That might sound like a small point, but for a brand needing to make an impact in a market flooded with other imports, that’s key. How does it handle US roads?
In the same assured way it gallops down European ones. The chassis tuning is spot on – a firm, controlled yet compliant ride. Super quick and crisp steering. Fabulously neutral balance. Plus it’s also extremely quiet and insulated from the road when not in max attack mode. That was something of a surprise. It will scythe down slick B roads at speed and the only indication of your rapid progress is the instruments. The car and all driver touch points are calm and quiet. Again, in a country where average journey times and mileages are twice or more those of European ones, that’s important. They haven’t muted it for the US, have they? No, that’s just how the car cruises. Squash the throttle into the firewall and all the noise and fury you expect – and want – from a 500bhp+ Italian sportscar are right there with you. As are all the handling responses. The steering and brake feel are not as direct as you might expect. But both are electronic, so tunable to increase the interaction. Talking of interaction, will the US get the manual gearbox? Nope. It’s the eight-speed ZF automatic box or nothing for the Giulia for now. Alfa says the take rate on manual gearboxes is around one per cent in the US, so it just doesn’t make sense to bring it in yet. But they haven’t ruled it out for good. First reports of the six-speed box are not that brilliant, so for now it’s better to have an ace eight-speed auto with paddles than a sticky manual. What about on the track? The chassis feels like it could handle quite a bit more than 500bhp, so you can fling it about in full confidence that it’ll go where it’s pointed. The brakes are so good they can overwork the 245 section front Pirelli tyres. But, as on the road, the speed you can carry around a circuit is much faster than it initially feels as the car is so well sorted. So it’s your brain’s fault, not the tyres’. Anything you didn’t like about it? While the interior quality is good – exceptional compared with Alfa’s past – there are a couple of small niggles about two of the components. The central screen is not quite as expansive and clear as the best in the industry, and the central controller, which does everything from dial in the nav to make the tea, feels a little flimsy. But neither is a deal breaker when the rest of the car is so strong and sorted. So should I buy one? Before I’d driven this one, I might have said maybe. But now I’ve spent some time in and around it, I would say with some relief, yes. It’s fun, fast, looks great and stands out as a slash of something special in a sea of silver and grey German cars. If Alfa can get its lease rates sorted and on a par or less than the competition – the main decider for US buyers/leasers – they should sell every one of these they can import.