2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio first drive review Page 2

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That lack of feel continues to the steering, which despite a brilliantly quick 11.8:1 ratio, is almost entirely devoid of anything resembling information about what the tire's contact patch is actually doing at the road surface. Because of the very quick steering ratio, and the car's staggered 245/35 19-inch front tires and 285/30 19-inch rears, it's easy for the driver to induce understeer with too-quick movement of the hands at turn in, with trailing brake at corner entry, or with too-early power at corner exit. Driven hard, with only the minimal driver aids of Race mode engaged, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a willing companion that's held back only by its relative lack of front grip.

But will it oversteer? Oh my, yes. In fact, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is one of the most controllable, enjoyable new cars on the road when it comes to getting and staying sideways, whether on dry, sticky pavement or rain-slicked roads. The 505-horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque are delivered in a decidedly non-linear way, ramping slowly to 4,000 rpm or so, then rapidly shooting for the stars and its 191 mph top speed. The close-spaced gears (through fifth gear, at any rate) enhance the tractability of the engine, seeking to keep you in the sweet spot for maximum thrust. The sudden surge of power gives the relatively small turbo V-6 a great deal of character, and also makes breaking the rear loose a trivial endeavor. But in Race mode, though the dash will warn you ESC is off, there's a sort of two-stage safety net. It will let you play, up to a point, before it halts the progress of your slide and does its best to keep you at that angle—without shutting you down and pulling you straight. No fun police here—just some welcome and capable escorts.

Back off the hoon's antics, and drive the Giulia Quadrifoglio properly, however, and everything comes together in concert. You don't notice the lack of steering feel, just the car's nearly instantaneous and telepathic turn-in; you don't notice the lack of brake feel, just the slight sense of urgency when the car's speed and weight overcome the grip available at the front tires; and you don't notice the lack of a manual transmission, or even a proper dual-clutch automatic as the paddles deliver precise, sub-100-millisecond shifts with no unasked-for upshifts or downshifts, ever. All you notice when piloting the Quadrifoglio toward the limits of adhesion is the remarkably neutral balance, the rapid surge of power, and the ache in your cheeks as you smile continuously from green flag to checker. If anything the claimed 3.8-second 0-60 mph time feels conservative.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Enlarge Photo
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Enlarge Photo
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Enlarge Photo

For those who might want something a bit different from the German, Japanese, and American offerings in the segment, but don't need or crave the 505-hp Quadrifoglio, the same core competence of the chassis can be found in the regular Giulia models, and in what will probably become the sweet-spot model of the line, the Giulia Ti with the Sport package. Nimble handling, quick steering, and a punchy 280-horsepower, 306-pound-foot turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder make quick work of any back road, as well as the speed limit, hitting 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph.

After just a few short hours of road time and a baker's dozen of laps around the track, it's hard to say how the Giulia will hold up in the daily grind (both the Quadrifoglio and the four-cylinder models are perhaps too stiff for some in daily use)—but when it comes to outright fun, driver engagement, and the sheer joy of driving, the Giulia Quadrifoglio stands at the very top of the segment—right alongside its record-setting 7:32 Nürburgring-Nordschleife lap time. Maybe those odd choices weren't so odd after all.

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia range is due in showrooms by the end of 2016. Pricing is yet to be confirmed but Alfa Romeo has stated that the Quadrifoglio will start around $70,000.


 
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