Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Wednesday 4th October


What is it like to drive?

You'll have seen photos of Quadrifoglios BBQing their rear tyres. You'll remember that TV sequence of Chris Harris sending it fully sideways through a Giulia-shaped hole in a wall. But guess what, the Quadrifoglio is actually a surprisingly subtle and supple character, not a one-dimensional pugilistic hot rod.

The engine doesn't bellow, and its exhaust doesn't emit anti-social firecrackers on the over-run. But it's still a fascinating and urgent force. The torque curve is out of bed good and early, but it doesn't fully shake off lag until 3,000rpm or so. From there on it's keen and zingy towards nearly 7,000, with a predictable and direct delivery. The sound changes with revs too – it's burbly at low revs, takes on a sharp rasp as it swings past 4,000, then gets more harmonious again for the vivid upward trajectory.

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Power is enough for 0-62 in under four seconds and a top speed beyond 190, and the eight-speed autobox's ratios are sensibly stacked. You can shift yourself via big metal paddles, another giveaway that several people who worked on this powertrain have done time at Ferrari.

And the chassis has that same F-word feel. Lightweight, communicative, alive. The steering's super-direct without being nervous, the springing is supple, and there's always full disclosure of the state of grip.

Quicker corners have it working with wonderful balance, seeming to operate by power of thought alone. In tighter ones it's super-lithe in the way it pivots through. On the way out, the QF's best trick is the way you can confidently lean on it without a fear of blind snappiness, thanks in part to the active torque split between the rear driveshafts. Or it'll do the spectacular barbecue, but that's your choice, as determined by both throttle and by where you've twisted the D-N-A Race dial.

Race means ESP is off and the dampers and powertrain on full aggression. It's too much for almost any road, even though a button lets you soften the damper programme. D is dynamic, N the normal. And A supposedly stands for advanced efficiency, but it also recalibrates the powertrain, ESP, dampers and torque distribution to give you the best chance of keeping your heartbeat down on a wet greasy day.

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(Anyway if you want 4WD – or indeed a tailgate – the Stelvio Quadrifoglio gives it to you, at a surprisingly small loss of dry-weather dynamics.)

This Giulia is firmly sprung of course, and yet it avoids getting banged about by deep craters, and it takes the edge off smaller sharp bumps too. It's the comfiest super-saloon, and obliging and refined in day-to-day running. Or at least it is once your foot has learned to accommodate a brake pedal that's over-keen at town speeds.

On the motorway it runs true and steady, and the new piloting system works well, guiding the wheel smoothly around most motorway curves.

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