Alfa Romeo returns to the U.S. in a blaze of glory

It would be a gross understatement to say Alfa Romeo has traveled a rough road on its way to the United States – a place where it hasn’t been since 1995, and even then with sales slower than snail snot. It appears things are turning around for Alfa, though, as its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is pushing the Italian brand headlong into the U.S. Alfa Romeo has already seen success with its niche market 4C coupe and Spider, but FCA is aiming for mass-market appeal. Spearheading the movement is the 2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio – a twin-turbocharged supercar killer based on the four-door Giulia.

Alfa Romeo is making its grand entrance with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, otherwise called the Giulia QV. Rather than introducing the high-powered variant after the high-volume sedan, Alfa is putting its best foot forward. The Giulia QV is hitting dealerships early in 2017 while the standard Giulia sedan arrives a bit later. Alfa is currently expanding its nationwide dealership network from roughly 86 in 2014 to more than 200 by early 2017. The stand-alone showrooms and service centers will carry both Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands.

The Giulia QV already has a bold reputation. It posted a Nürburgring lap time of 7:32:00, placing it in the same category as cars like the new 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (7:29:60), the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R (7:32:19), and the outrageous Koenigsegg CCX (7:33:55). The QV also boasts a 0-to-60 mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph. Its extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber give it an astonishingly light curb weight of roughly 3,600 pounds. An active front spoiler lip helps the big six-piston Brembo brakes slow the car from high speeds.

Best of all, the QV is still a five-seater sedan with a trunk. It runs on the conventional premium fuel found at the corner gas station, runs on common Pirelli P Zero tires, and can be had for $73,500. That’s not a bad deal for an Italian sports car with such a pedigree as this.

Undoubtedly Alfa Romeo wants the Giulia Quadrifoglio to do extremely well in the U.S. – so much so they loaned me an example for a week. I treated it like a daily driver when the wife and kid were riding, and like a go-kart when empty. I am pleased to give you my thoughts below.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

Video Review


Exterior

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 698585

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia is an aggressive looking sedan, especially when compared to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Alfa didn’t have to change many exterior attributes when adding the four-leaf clover to the front fender, but there are still a number of important modifications that aren’t just calls for attention.

Changes for the Quadrifoglio includes a revised lower grille with inlets that direct air through a heat exchanger on each side of the car. Duct work also sends air towards the front brakes, helping stave off fade. A carbon fiber chin splitter is added for improved aerodynamics. During highs-speed braking, the splitter becomes active, lowering down like a snowplow to help create drag. The Giulia QV is the only sports sedan with active front aero bits.

The Giulia is a beautiful car that looks nothing like anything roaming American streets.

Up top, the hood receives two heat extractors that help pull hot air from the engine bay. Below the doors, the rocker panels also get a carbon fiber treatment that helps direct air around the rear tire.

Around back, a carbon fiber spoiler resides on the trunk lid while a massive diffuser panel rides below the bumper. Four chrome-tipped exhaust pipes protrude from the bodywork, giving a visual representation of the boisterously loud exhaust system.

Alfa worked very hard to add lightness to the Giulia QV. Not only are the aero bits composed of carbon fiber, the entire hood and roof panels are, as well. The fenders and door skins are made of lightweight aluminum, as is nearly every other piece of body structure. The result is a curb weight of roughly 3,600 pounds and a 50/50 front to rear weight distribution. That’s impressive.

As a whole, the Giulia is a beautiful car that looks nothing like anything roaming American streets. That might be Alfa’s ace in the hole, with weary BMW, Mercedes, and Audi customers looking for something different.

The Competition

2016 BMW M3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 629485
2015 Mercedes-AMG C63
- image 698088

Speaking of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the two German automakers have been raking in boatloads of profit cash from Americans since the Arab Oil Embargo. The 3 Series and C-Class have been mainstays with luxury and performance buyers thanks to continuing innovation, a wide array of trim line choices, and up-market brand reputation. As for the direct competitors to the Giulia Quadrifoglio, that would be BMW’s M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S.

Just as the Giulia carries a distinctly Alfa Romeo personality, the M3 is also purely BMW. That double kidney grille, the three-part lower fascia, the power dome hood, and the kinked D-pillar all give the M3 a familiar appearance that dates back to the 1990s.

At the Mercedes camp, the C63 S boasts all the typical Mercedes-AMG flair. There’s the three-pointed star, the large horizontal chrome grille insert, the grimacing lower fascia, the swooping lines, and the integrated exhaust tips below a curvy rear bumper. Honestly, looks are subjective and, at this level of performance, brand loyalty runs extremely deep. We’d expect most customers fond of a particular German brand to stay that way – that is, unless a sexy little Italian comes rolling up.

BMW M3 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Wheelbase (Inches) 106.3 111.8 111.0
Length (Inches) 184.6 187.2 182.6
Width (Inches) 73.9 72.4 73.7
Height (Inches) 56.1 56.1 56.1

Interior

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 698626

Like the outside, the 2017 Giulia QV’s interior closely mirrors that of the more pedestrian Giulia models. All the functionality remains, too, with features like the knob-controlled infotainment system, driver TFT gauge cluster display, dual-zone climate controls, heated seats and steering wheel, an a leather-wrapped dashboard and door panels.

The Quadrifoglio model comes packed with more carbon fiber trim pieces, Alcantara and leather seats, and a downright beautiful flat-bottomed steering wheel with Alcantara, leather, aluminum, and massive paddle shifters. Red contrast stitching holds everything together and matches the red Start/Stop engine button on the steering wheel.

The Quadrifoglio model comes packed with more carbon fiber trim pieces, Alcantara and leather seats, and a downright beautiful flat-bottomed steering wheel with Alcantara, leather, aluminum, and massive paddle shifters.

The Giulia’ s compact classification shows through with a somewhat cramped back seat with limited legroom. The bench is big enough for two adults on a short trip, but the lack of a center armrest, usable cup holder, and adequate knee room makes longer outings a bit claustrophobic. My five-year-old’s booster seat fit without issue and her legs had ample room. The Giulia QV might not be the best substitute for a minivan, but it would work as the non-primary family sedan.

Behind the wheel, I found the heavily bolstered seats rather comfortable and easily adjustable. Memory settings allowed me to keep my preferred seat arrangement handy. The driving position is rather good, with the steering wheel, gauge cluster height, and hip point all perfectly positioned in accordance with each other. The controls mounted to the center console were also within easy reach. The main controller resides in the center. Like Audi’s MMI system, it controls the infotainment system via rotating, depressing, and toggling the knob. The surface is also a writing pad, which helps with imputing GPS destinations.

The radio controls, like Audi, are also on the console and within easy reach of both the driver and front passenger. Of course, when it comes to driving, the most important knob is the DNA controller. Positioned nearest to the driver, the knob toggles through the four drive mode selections, Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficiency, and Race. That last one is reserved only for the Quadrifoglio model.

Twin cup holders are hidden under a carbon fiber-covered door ahead of the shifter. A USB port is handy for charging and music streaming. Sadly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing.

The driver gets use of two analog gauges with white-on-black lettering and white needles. The tachometer is easy to read, but like I do with nearly every modern car I test, found myself relying on the digital speed readout rather than the crowded analog speedometer. The TFT display isn’t as configurable nor does it display the level of information seen within its competitors. It offers a speedometer, two tripometer pages, and a G meter. Perhaps future models will come with more pages.

The infotainment system, while not a touchscreen unit, offers plenty of features. It boasts 3D maps, all the modern radio sources, an easy-to-use settings page, and an “app” page which displays tire pressure, fuel efficiency bar graphs, and the maintenance schedule. Read about the TMPS screen here.

Trunk space is appropriate for this size car, with 17 cubic feet of space. In fact, that matches the trunk size of both the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. My tester came with a rather handy cargo net that held items in place regardless of how hard I drove the car. The trunk hinges are integrated behind the trunk walls, thankfully protecting luggage from getting smashed.

All told, the Quadrifoglio’s interior is a handsome, well appointed place to conduct the business of driving. It provides plenty of room for two and their luggage or five people in a pinch. A booster seat fits just fine in the back seat and there’s plenty of room in the trunk. The rich leathers, contrast stitching, and carbon fiber and metal trim pieces really give the car a high-class feel worthy of its price tag.

The Competition

2016 BMW M3
- image 698090
2015 Mercedes-AMG C63
- image 698089

The M3 carries the typical BMW styling found in its modern lineup. The swooping dash with small buttons resides under an iPad-like screen. A three-spoke steering wheel with satin chrome accents and leather wrappings is front and center. Carbon fiber trim abounds. The BMW is fairly roomy, but like the Alfa, isn’t the best choice for a road trip with five adults. The gauge cluster has an old-school look about it, with two analog dials for speed and engine revs.

Things are much more adventurous inside the Mercedes. The interior has a modern feel about it with fewer visible buttons than the BMW. The center-mounted controller on the console handles the iPad-style infotainment system. A flat-bottom steering wheel covered in leather and Alcantara with satin chrome accents brings a tough of sport to the luxurious cabin. Other sporty touches include the carbon fiber trim, heavily bolstered front seats, and of course, the AMG logo on the center stack.

BMW M3 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Headroom front/rear (Inches) 40.3 37.1/37.1 TBA
Legroom, front/rear (Inches) 42.0/35.1 41.7/35.2 TBA
Shoulder room, front/rear (Inches) 55.1/55.1 TBA TBA

Drivetrain

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 698615

Powering the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a Ferrari-derived V-6. It’s basically a six-cylinder version of the twin-turbocharged V-8 found in the 488GTB and California T. It displaces 2.9 liters and is force-fed by two turbochargers. The all-aluminum, 90-degree engine cranks out an impressive 505 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque at only 2,500 rpm and holds peak torque up to 5,500 rpm. Direct fuel injection and four valves per cylinder help make the most of the smaller displacement. Even more impressively, the engine features cylinder deactivation when all 505 horses aren’t needed. There’s also a Start/Stop system to save fuel when stopped at red lights or in heavy traffic.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 698614
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 698616
Powering the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a Ferrari-derived V-6.

The V-6 is longitudinally mounted within the Giulia’s body and mates to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. The close-ratio gearbox provides smooth automatic shifting during normal driving, but bangs out shifts like a dual clutch when pressed hard. The driver can move the gear shifter into manual mode to control shifts himself. This can be done via the gear shifter’s +/- toggle or the huge, column-mounted paddle shifters.

While the standard Giulia can be had in AWD, the Quadrifoglio only comes with rear-wheel drive. Thanks to the sticky 285-series Pirelli rubber out back, the car has plenty of grip – that is, until the turbos reach full boost and the car dances sideways under the incredible amount of power produced by the high-tech engine. A carbon fiber driveshaft connects the transmission to the electronically operated limited slip rear differential. This not only saves on overall curb weight, but also on rotational mass. It’s that much less weight to spin up, allowing the engine to rev to its 6,800 rpm redline.

The Competition

The BMW M3 uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder to make 425 horsepower at 7,300 rpm and 406 pound-feet of torque at 1,850 rpm. The all-aluminum mill features direct fuel injection for better fuel burn. A six-speed manual or Getrag-sourced seven-speed dual-clutch automatic can be had. And, like the Quadrifoglio, AWD cannot be had. The M3 is a solid performer, hitting 60 mph in 3.8 seconds (matching the Quadrifoglio) and can reach a governor-limited top speed of 163 mph. The Alfa has it beat there.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S boasts the largest engine here, by far. It’s a 4.0-liter V-8 with a pair of turbochargers bolted on. Despite its size, it only generates 503 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm. Nevertheless, the car hits 60 mph in 3.9 seconds on its way to a governed top speed of 180 mph. The Merc uses a seven-speed automatic transmission to send its power to the rear wheels.

BMW M3 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Engine 3.0-liter M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder 4.0-liter V-8 biturbo 2.9-liter V6 Bi-Turbo
Horsepower 425 HP @ 5,500–7,300 RPM 503 HP @ 5,500-6250 RPM 505 HP @ 6,500 RPM
Torque 406 LB-FT @ 1,850–5,500 RPM 516 LB-FT @ 1,750-4,500 RPM 443 LB-FT @ 2,500-5,500 RPM
Transmission 6-speed manual 7-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT ZF-sources eight-speed automatic
0-60 mph 4.1 seconds 3.9 seconds 3.8 seconds
Top speed 155 mph 180 mph 191 mph
Weight 3,575 Lbs 3,856 Lbs 3,360 Lbs

Behind The Wheel

The Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio is a doll of a dance partner. Its nimble stance is aided by the direct steering feel and willing throttle. The grabby Brembo brakes and sticky Pirelli tires are there to save the day, though the lack of a nanny system in Race mode is not. Dynamic mode is still good fun, though the engine’s overboost function is not activated. And at no point did I ever think the exhaust note was too obnoxious, which is really too bad. The Alfa deserves a Jaguar F-Type SVR-style exhaust system that is overbearingly loud and blatty when in Dynamic or Race mode. I did take issue with the big Brembos’ ability to ease to a stop without a final jerking halt. Even with the lightest touch, the pedal offered little room for error in its 1.5 inches of travel. (Read more about the brakes here)

Qualms aside, the car is a blast to drive. It offers confidence-boosting outward visibility with large side mirrors and a clear view through the rear window. The driving position is honestly one of my favorites thanks to the gauge cluster’s orientation within the steering wheel and my overall relationship within the interior.

Pricing

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 698599

During my week of evaluation, Alfa Romeo announced the official pricing for the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The price starts at $72,000. Delivery costs an extra $1,500, so the final price would be $73,500. Of course, that’s before any options like the carbon ceramic brakes, and other fees and taxes.

The Other Guys

The 2017 BMW M3 sedan carries a base MSRP of $64,000 before options, taxes, and other fees. And, if one thing is for sure, BMWs can get very expensive when checking option boxes. Tread lightly to avoid paying nearly $90,000 for a decked-out example.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S carries a higher price than the BMW, but is very competitive against the Alfa. It begins life at $72,800. But, like the BMW and any good German car, the optional extras will send the price skyrocketing.

Honorable Mentions

2017 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan Exterior
- image 578307

The Cadillac ATS-V is a hot competitor with a chassis that’s shared with the Chevrolet Camaro (and its ZL1 version). Unlike the Camaro, this beast uses a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V-6 to generate 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. Mated to either a proper six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. Power is sent to the rear wheels. The sprint to 60 mph happens in a comparable 3.8 seconds and its top speed is listed at 189 mph. Pricing for the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V sedan starts at a relatively reasonable $60,695.

Read more about the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan here.

2018 Audi S4

2017 - 2018 Audi S4
- image 646168

Okay, so the S4 doesn’t carry the same power levels or prestige as the competitors here, but it does offer a softer ride for those not into bombing the Nürburgring on the way to work. It comes powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter making 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to Audi’s quattro AWD system. The result is a 60 mph sprint in roughly 4.3 seconds and onto a governed top speed of 155 mph – how German. Prices for the 2018 Audi S4 are estimated to start around $53,000, which is a notable savings over the competitions.

Find out more about the 2018 Audi S4 here.

Conclusion

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 698590

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio might be a mouthful to say and hard to explain to your non-gearhead friends, but its Italian heritage and accent has not been lost in its first year immigrating to the U.S. This is a high-strung Italian sports car that anyone can buy at a local Alfa Romeo/Fiat dealership for upper-middle class money. What’s more, you can drive it every day. You can pick the kids up from school. You can drive it in the rain. Heck, you can even drive it to save fuel, provided you keep your foot out of the twin-turbos’ boost. Yet with the same car, you can attack the Nürburgring and post better times than a Koenigsegg. That’s amazing!

Nevertheless, Alfa Romeo has a long road ahead of it. Reentry into the United States as a mass-market automaker won’t be easy. There will be bumps and broken pavement along the way, but with FCA’s backing and Sergio Marchionne’s fighting attitude, it would be hard to bet against the brand. Only time will tell what Alfa Romeo’s fate will be, but we’re hoping for a hot-selling, profitable future.

  • Leave it
    • Touchy brakes
    • Unproven reliability
    • Will Alfa finally succeed in the U.S.?
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: