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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – long-term review
Boo! It's time to say arrivederci to our Alfa QV
I don’t know exactly how many photographic frames of our Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio have been committed to SD cards over the past nine months (“a lot” is the easy answer) but the glorious shot here is my favourite.
Taken by Mark Riccioni on our first group test of the new Audi RS5, it sums up what I love about the QV in one easily-saved-to-my-desktop-wallpaper image.
Where the Audi looks mopish asit apathetically walks a tightrope of understeer, the Giulia is lit up; grinning like a madman as it incinerates it rear tyres with 503bhp and sensational chassis balance. It looks fun. And makes you want to have a go. That’s the stuff marketing teams dream of.
And trust me: behind the wheel it is as good as it looks. You feel everything that’s going on as it wills you on to drive it harder, to learn to explore its limits. Well, it did until it went into limp-home mode five minutes after this was taken…
See, as I hand the overly fat key back after plenty of mixed miles, I’m conflicted on how to summarise my thoughts on Italy’s super-saloon.
My ownership experience has been a frustrating big-dipper of emotions as excitement behind the wheel got shot down by tragic disappointment each time the Check Engine light bonged on.
I entered the tenure cynical. Not about the car, as it had walked away with our 2016 Car of the Year crown. Rather, I was sceptical about the whole Alfisti approach of sweeping criticism or faults under the carpet because “it’s an Alfa”. But I’ve now realised I’ve turned into one of those Alfa fans that champion the car even though it’s been nowhere near as reliable as its German competitors.
The QV is still one of the best cars I’ve driven. Its chassis and ride offer an incredible bipolar personality that sees it morph out of comfortable fuel-sipper to track nutter with a twist of a knob. Race mode offers a challenge and is addictive as the whole car kicks on its engine mounts. Sensations you crave as a car enthusiast which the Alfa serves up in dollops of goodness.
Yet it’s been riddled with electrical gremlins. Some diving into online forums sees that we’re not the only ones, with a number of RHD cars suffering from similar faults due to water in the ECU. Remember this was a whole new RWD car, on an all-new platform, with an all-new engine, developed by some of Ferrari’s finest in just 30 months. Does it feel like it? Yes. It has plenty of genius in it, yet you’re overwhelmed by the feeling it’s been rushed through.
To its credit, it hasn’t gone wrong since Alfa got a bit snippy with the wiring loom two months ago. But once the seed of doubt about reliability is planted in your head you lose trust.
So can I recommend it? Yes. Should I? Well, that’s a bit trickier. I never want to lead someone who has worked hard for £75k to buy a car that’s an uncertain gamble. Let me say this. It has character. It has soul. I’ve realised it’s a proper Alfa. But in this age that doesn’t excuse it for being a bit break-y. If Alfa wants to earn the trust of new buyers umming and ahhing over, say, an M3 or C63, it needs to make it more reliable. So let’s hope it does. Being so good, the car deserves it. And more people need to experience it. But if you’re a car fan that doesn’t mind a risk and wants more than ‘just a car’ on their driveway, go for it. Just don’t say we didn’t tell you so if it stops working.