Before I go any further I have to admit that, compared to most test drives, my time at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio was fairly short.
Rather than a full road test, this is more of a brief impression, but my goodness what an impression it is.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is the star of the current Alfa range. Yes, there’s a stupidly fast version of the Stelvio as well, but this four-door saloon is the real poster boy for the brand.
It's the car that will entice people into the showroom, even if their budget will only stretch to a standard diesel version.
It’s a 506bhp, rear-wheel-drive executive saloon positioned to take on the mighty M3 and Mecerdes-AMG C63 but, if the marketing is to be believed, imbued with Italian passion and flair rather than Teutonic ruthlessness.
From the outside the flair is plain to see. The standard Giulia is the most beautiful car in its class and the Quadrifoglio’s swollen panels, gaping honeycomb intakes, carbon fibre trim and 19-inch alloys add a layer of simmering aggression and purpose.
Helping realise that purpose is a Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V6 from a brand revered for its engines. Like Alfas of the past it sounds utterly wonderful, rising in pitch and ferocity as you race through the revs. It certainly delivers on the passion promise yet it’s not unpleasantly obtrusive.
With 506bhp and 443lb/ft of torque it also delivers on the performance, providing a brutal boot-up-the-behind surge as the eight-speed automatic gearbox flashes through the ratios. Official figures are 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 191mph.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Price: From £65,555
- Engine: 2.9-litre, bi-turbo, V6, petrol
- Power: 506bhp
- Torque: 443lb/ft
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Top speed: 191mph
- 0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
- Economy: 27.2mpg
- CO2 emissions: 235g/km
If the pace in a straight line is impressive, the way it carries it through corners is breathtaking. The chassis and steering have a responsiveness and poise that allow it to devour the sort of roads that get petrolheads excited.
Turn in is immediate, direct and feelsome and the body stays flat and composed while the fat tyres grip and grip. That’s not to say the Giulia can’t get lairy if you’re not careful. There’s still an awful lot of power being delivered to the back wheels - but you feel utterly connected to what it’s doing at every moment even while the torque vectoring and other electronic trickery works its magic.
You can, if you’ve got your brave boy trousers on, switch all of that off via the race option in the DNA drive selector. Or, if you’re fighting through traffic, you can flick to A for advanced efficiency and take advantage of a calmer throttle response, lighter steering and cylinder deactivation technology.
In any of the settings you can also press the “soft” damper button, meaning you can enjoy the ferocious pace and turn-in without breaking your back on shoddy British road surfaces or sacrificing its dazzling dynamics.
It can’t all be sweetness and light and on bad roads the Giulia can feel fidgety. More problematically, the brakes have little initial bite and need a serious prod to rein in the car’s prodigious pace.
The interior, too, won’t blow away anyone who has sat in the Giulia’s rivals. The optional (£3,250) Sparco carbon fibre-shelled bucket seats are impressive comfortable and supportive but look a little out of place in an otherwise practical executive saloon. And while the simplicity of the dashboard means fewer distractions, it verges on the austere, lifted only by some two-tone stitching, carbon fibre highlights and the big red start button mounted on the steering wheel.
But a press of that big red button means such flaws are easily forgiven as that V6 fires into life and you’re presented with the prospect of another spin in a truly spectacular machine.
As far as first impressions go, count me impressed.
This article first appeared on The Scotsman