The famous Italian brand abandoned the mid-sized saloon market when it didn’t replace the very pretty 159 in 2011. With Giulia, Alfa Romeo has a desire to grow the brand to circa 400,000 sales per year from a fraction of that, but is Giulia up to the task?
Well for a start Giulia, we’ve reviewed already on Motorhub http://motorhub.ie/alfa-romeo-giulia-review/ is a good looking machine. Its short overhangs, distinctive nose and on trend cabin-rearward look give the four-door great presence.
The 159 was front wheel drive but Giulia sends its power to the rear wheels. Built on a new platform called ‘Giorgio’, that is set to underpin up to eight new machines in the coming years, the steering is geared for really quick response and rapid turn in. All Irish machines are paired to a ZF sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox – so no manuals. This is possibly a mistake as the BMW 3 Series and A4 from Audi have manual and auto options but I must admit I have driven most of the Giulia range and enjoyed the self-shifter in all of them.
The jewel in the crown is the utterly brilliant Quadrifoglio (cloverleaf) with its 510hp and 600nm. This €100,000 machine is really easy to drive quickly with little talent. The car is powered by a petrol V6 that has serious credentials. Basically the 2.9 litre is a Ferrari V8 with two less cylinders. The car is joyous to power along and I’ve driven it in Italy and Ireland. Alfa Romeo uses a variation of the ‘dna’ drive mode setup. Via a rotary dial you can select how the car delivers its power. A calms things down a bit and is ideal for damp or slippy conditions – or when you lend it to your Nan. N is for neutral day to driving and D is for dynamic. In D things get louder and responses faster. With D you get two suspension settings that surprisingly keep your fillings in your teeth! Twist the dial and hold it and you will engage R for Race. As with dynamic you get a choice of two firmer suspension settings. The race setting really raises the hairs on the back of your neck.
I have a gravel driveway and even in A the car would dig a hole on idle with its offside rear wheel as I tried to creep quietly out of the house. Race mode is brilliant and the car really becomes a pin-up in this mode. I spent a huge amount of time just hoping up and down the gears to hear the burps, burbles and parps from the exhaust.
Ex Ferrari engineer Philippe Krief headed up Giulia’s development and he knows his stuff. Weight distribution is a perfect 50:50 and like the M3/4 the cloverleaf uses a carbon fibre prop shaft to reduce weight further. But the goodies don’t stop there with a brilliant (torque vectoring) limited slip differential that can send 100 per cent of the available power to either rear wheel. A fast car is no good if it can’t stop and the optional ceramic brakes are a must. A striking looking active air diffuser adds downforce and additional braking when needed while very sticky P Zero tyres stick like glue to the road. Did I say the car was lightweight, its just 1,542kgs!
In terms of power the Cloverleaf destroys the M3 and M4 coupe, and while the BMW’s are really technical and very quick the Alfa delivers a lot more theatre. Top speed is 307kph, while 0-100kph takes just 3.9 seconds. I’ve been lucky enough to drive the car on the Agnelli family owned Balocco proving ground in Italy and was simply blown away by how much fun I could have with modest driving talent. The manual version lets you keep your accelerator flat to the floor while you shift gears with its racing gearbox.
Giulia is a good looking car across the range but and the range topper is special. It looks mean yet beautiful. The Cloverleaf is going to do its bit to get people talking about the flaky brand once more. Every cell in my being wishes it well but sadly the bean counters who manage fleets will need to be convinced that the FCA owned brand has got its act together in terms of reliability and more importantly durability.