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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – living with it

We spent two six month stints with both a pre- and post-facelift Giulia Quadrifoglio, and have loved every minute with them

Evo rating
Price
from £78,195
  • Awesomely fast, amazingly approachable, full of charisma
  • Interior not a match for its rivals, reputation for flaky reliability

T​​he time has come. Cue the tragi-opera orchestra, the wailing of the damned, the hand wringing. Mamma mia! They want the Alfa back! All good things have to end at some point, and sure enough there’s been no shirking the inevitability of the Alfa’s return to the press office, even if RX70 GDA seemed to have ideas of its own about that (more on which in a bit). 

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During the first half of the loan both car and driver (me) didn’t go very far at all, on account of lockdown etc. How I would have loved to have done some big road trips in the Alfa, especially those into Europe, a role I think the car would have excelled at. Many was the time I dreamed of leaving two black lines out of an Alpine hairpin…

Nevertheless, when the driving did begin, oh boy did I enjoy it. Having driven a number of Quadrifoglios over recent years I knew I was in for a treat, but what I didn’t fully appreciate was just how wonderful it is to live with a car like the Quad on a daily basis. Rare is the modern performance car with a personality that genuinely gets under your skin, but this Giulia manages that within the first few seconds. From the moment a press of the big red starter button wakes the 503bhp V6 with a boisterous growl, the Quadrifoglio is an EV performance car advocate’s worst nightmare. The optional Akrapovic exhaust helped in this regard, its booming presence never far away with a flick of the driver mode dial, and having also tried a facelifted (and therefore particulate filter-equipped) Quadrifoglio without it, I think it’s something I’d miss if it wasn’t fitted. 

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> BMW M3 Competition vs Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio vs Porsche 911 Carrera

I loved how the Alfa’s inherently soft springing meant the ride in the boot-up setting was so easy-going. The car just flowed along roads, and there’s something so relaxing about a car that’s not uptight all the time, as has become the German norm (some might say obsession, in fact). I rarely used the over-excitable Race damping: the actual Race setting was a must, given it was a one-flick route to getting the angriest engine map and no stability or traction control whatsoever, but inevitably I’d knock the damping back to medium with a press of the button in the centre of the dial (a brilliantly simple solution). However, on the most demanding of roads even Race damping wasn’t enough to stop the nose of the car grounding on the worst compressions.

It was the same story on a circuit, too. At Goodwood, for example, it was hitting deep into three figure speeds and that little shimmy of imprecision through the seat of the pants just knocked the confidence back a notch. Then again, the Quadrifoglio really isn’t a track car, as its voracious appetite for rubber, brakes and fuel revealed. In just one 15-minute session at the Duke of Richmond’s circuit it consumed a third of a tank of fuel, the brakes began to grumble (they never really recovered subsequently) and, worst of all, a set of Pirelli P Zeros was demolished. Expensive fun indeed. 

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The issue of tyres was particularly pertinent. The front tyres’ incredibly low tread wear rating of just 60 means they are soft enough that you can virtually mould them with the human hand, and their dry-weather grip is tenacious. But wet and cold-weather performance was poor, and when pushed on a circuit just a few laps was enough to induce severe damage to the treadblocks. Quadrifoglio owners have told me that the car is transformed on Michelins, but sadly we never had the time to try different rubber.

Rear tyre wear had much more to do with a heavy right foot, because this Alfa is, more than any other car I can think of, a complete hooligan. Once you’ve formed a working pact with the sometimes hard-to-read e-diff, a cheeky drift here and there simply becomes an everyday occurrence. 

My only other grumble would have to be the build quality inside. As mentioned in my previous report, there were a few signs that the interior wouldn’t last like those of German rivals. I hate stereotypes, but even I had to concede that switchgear coming away wasn’t a great sign. And then, with just a week to go, our car went a stage further by dying completely, even refusing me entry. It was diagnosed as a flat battery, the reason inconclusive. 

But you know what? It speaks volumes about the Quadrifoglio that I simply put it down to the car not wanting to leave. I had personified a mechanical object. I had a bond with the car. It meant something to me. I can think of no greater recommendation for this car than that, for I adored it like no other long-termer I’ve been privileged to run in this profession, and I suspect one day I will own an example of my own. What a thoroughly brilliant, absolutely essential car.

Date acquired January 2021
Duration of test6 months 
Total test mileage4156 
Overall mpg21.0
Purchase price£83,295
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