I HAVE two new friends. Two Italian friends. Their names are Francesco and Pasquale and they are very nice lads indeed.
But — and I’m only guessing here — they sought my acquaintance not because of any great personal magnetism of my behalf; no, it was because of the car I was driving.
Last week, that car was one Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and for those not in the loop the Quadrifoglio designation (which translates into “four leaf clover”) is an historical Alfa thing which marks something pretty special and very “sportivo”, as they might say in Italian.
This one is no different, except that it exceptionally special and ridiculously sportivo and in the greater scheme of all things Alfa it is a terribly important thing.
Emotion aside — both Irish and Italian, it has to be said — and put simply, the Alfa Giulia saloon is the car which will either save the company if it is a success, or condemn it to oblivion if it is not.
The ordinary Giulia models are the ones that will decide how the massive investment in the Alfa name by parent company Fiat Chrysler Auto (FCA) plays out as the brand attempts to completely reinvent itself between now and 2020.
The Quadrifoglio version is the icing on the cake of the Giulia range and essentially a marketing exercise aimed at charming the unconvinced and the uncommitted into the belief that Alfa is once more making cars which are not only desirable, but worthy contenders in a world of German domination.
Taking on the Teutonic mid-range axis consisting of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, is no mean task, yet that is what the Giulia has to try and achieve and, taking that battle to its’ logical conclusion, it means the Quadrifoglio will go head to head with the RS4, the M3/M4 and the C-class AMG, respectively.
Phew. That’s a big ask.
So, what has Alfa done to make this car a contender? Well, it has endowed it with a three-litre V6 twin turbo engine, returned to a rear wheel drive layout, packed it with some of the most sophisticated electronics and suspensions available and also laid it on thick with an imperious and lavish interior. And it looks the part too.
But that’s not all. Alfa, reportedly, brought in engineers from fellow FCA stablemates Ferrari to work on the engine/drivetrain and suspension elements of the design and whether or not this is the case, whoever was responsible for this work deserves a medal — or whatever it is Italy dishes out to national treasures.
Consider a few things: all Giulia models come as standard with suspension arms and sub-frames in aluminium, as well as aluminium suspension towers, doors and wings. There is also a carbonfibre driveshaft. The Quadrifoglio adds a carbonfibre bonnet, roof and front splitter with active aerodynamic elements.
As well as that, we also see things like double wishbone front suspensions, a new electronic chassis management computer and a ‘by wire’ electromechanical braking system that takes a bit of getting used to, as any hard braking will set off the full panoply of hazard warning gear and generally frighten the crap out of you unnecessarily.
Still, the picture which is emerging here is a car which is fully equipped to take on its’ German rivals on pretty much every front open to it. And then you get to the drivetrain.
Under the carbonfibre hood, nestles that three-litre V6 twin turbo which not alone outputs a positively preposterous 503 bhp, but adds one of the most glorious engine sounds you’ve ever heard in your life. Add to that an exceptional ZF eight speed automatic ’box and you have a combination which will make any enthusiast salivate.
Any passing resemblance to a current Ferrari 3.9-litre V6 can be discounted as mere coincidence, but the bottom line is that if you are not greatly moved by the soaring soundtrack of this car, then you need to see a doctor.
Top speed is listed at 307km/h (nearly 188mph in old money) and the wonder of the thing is that all that power seems to be available at all times.
Fire it up — courtesy of the neat starter button on the steering wheel — and it will bark into life with a menace which will startle unwitting bystanders. You do also have to be mindful when you crank it up out on the road as the soundtrack may cause a stampede — be it human, equine or bovine — if you catch them off guard.
Once at work, however, what is truly notable is that all that power is not wasted on an incapable chassis. Far from it. The balance and poise of this thing is stupendous and the sheer accuracy of the steering is tremendously impressive.
It is as sorted as any of its most muscular German rivals and while you can adjust the settings to adapt the ride quality, this is another area where the Italian car truly shapes up to its northern foe. They may have spent a lot of money getting this thing right, but get it right they have.
The red stitching which abounds all the leader clad interior surfaces is a further indicator that Alfa has thrown everything at this car and the leather/alcantara upholstery mix confirms the luxurious intent.
You could quibble with some of the infotainment functions and the way they work, but that is really small beer in the overall scheme of all things Quadrifoglio — which is a magnificent automotive achievement and one which we here at Examiner Motoring hope will reinvigorate the brand like nothing else in its’ history.
This is an amazing piece of kit in several ways — not least that Alfa made it in the first place. But, having gone and done it, the fact they made such an impressive job of it heralds the joyous conclusion that Alfa Romeo has a very bright future.
COLLEY’S VERDICT: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Cost: €99,945 (€103,795 as tested) — is every bit as outrageous as the car.
The Engine: A Ferrari-derived jewel.
The Specification: The mechanical spec is nearly as impressive as the in-car one.
The Overall Verdict: Stunning return to form, even considering the usual Alfa caveat about residuals.
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