words and photos by TOM STRONGMAN
Quadrifoglio: The four-leaf clover that means good luck. But it’s also the name of the 505-horsepower version of Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sports sedan, and if you get to drive one, you’ll feel like that fender- mounted badge has indeed brought you luck.
I spent a couple of days with one recently, and there’s no question that this car puts an impressive stamp on Alfa’s return to the American market and serves notice to European competitors, such the BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz AMG C63, and the Audi S4, that there’s a new “Alfa male” to lead the pack.
For those that don’t know the history, A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, or Anonymous Lombard Automobile Factory) was founded in Milan, Italy, in 1910. In 1920, under the guidance of Nicola Romeo, the company became Alfa Romeo. As enthusiasts know, Alfa Romeo is known as a brand that’s vehicles are brimming with emotion. As Orazio Satta Puliga, head of design, said in 1946: “Alfa Romeo is a particular way of living, of experiencing an automobile. The real essence of Alfa Romeo defies description . . . . We are in the realm of sensations, passions, things that have more to do with the heart than with the head.” And so it is today.
The ceramic quadrifoglio badge on the front fender has its origin in the early days of racing. In 1923, in an attempt to change the luck of the Alfa Romeo racing team, Ugo Sivocci painted the quadrifoglio on his car and won the Targa Florio race. Because it seemed to bring good luck, the four-leaf clover became a symbol of Alfa Romeo performance and was painted on every car. Sadly, Sivocci died in an accident later that year in a P1 racing car while practicing for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. His car had yet to have a four-leaf clover painted on it.
Fire up the 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 that sits behind the iconic heart-shaped grille (some say it is shaped like a shield) and you’re greeted with a sound that becomes fury when you unleash all of the engine’s prodigious power. This is a car that resonates with your heart, your head, and the seat of your pants, because it offers such a sensuous driving experience. You feel exactly what the car is doing every moment. A torque-vectoring rear differential sends drive to the wheel with the most traction, and that helps the car knife through turns more precisely.
A near-perfect 50/50 weight balance and a curb weight of 3,800 pounds contribute to balanced handling. It is hard to explore the limits of this car without being on a track. Using carbon fiber for the hood, roof, rear spoiler and an active aero front spoiler saves weight. The test car’s huge carbon ceramic brakes erased speed with impressive ease, although they are an expensive option and the tradeoff is a bit of noise at low speeds.
The Quadrifoglio, base price $72,000, is one of three Guilia sedans. The Giulia and Giulia Ti have base prices of $37,995 and $39,995. They are powered by a 280-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option and would be most welcome here given our climate.
Serious enthusiasts will covet the Quadrifoglio, despite the fact that is likely to be available in limited numbers.
The car I drove had options such as the Brembo carbon ceramic brakes ($8,000), Sparco carbon fiber racing seats ($2,750), tri-coat white pearl paint ($2,200), the driver assistance package ($1,500), and the carbon fiber active aero front splitter ($900). The sticker price was $89,845, and it is in the same ballpark as a well- equipped BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63.
Plus, consider the Alfa’s performance: 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds and a top track speed of 191 mph. That’s on par with a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.
Despite the twin-turbo’s impressive power output, the Quadrifoglio is easily an everyday car. That is due in part to four drive modes: Advanced Efficiency deactivates cylinders to reduce fuel consumption; Natural is a more comfortable setting for daily use; Dynamic sharpens up the brakes and steering while using more aggressive engine and transmission calibrations; and Race model turns off the stability control, opens up the dual-model exhaust, and lets the engine roar. You need to be on your toes and paying attention if you select Race mode, intended, no doubt, for track driving.
The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission has column-mounted shift paddles.
The cabin is equipped with premium leather and an Alcantara headliner. The optional Sparco carbon fiber seats fit like the proverbial glove and look great as well. The navigation screen is a bit small. The test car was equipped with the Harmon Kardon premium audio system, but, in truth, the best thing to listen to is the engine when driven in Dynamic mode.
Standard safety and driver-assist features include forward collision warning, plus autonomous braking when a front collision appears imminent; adaptive cruise control with full-stop intervention; lane departure warning; and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection.
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