What’s in a name?
If the name is Giulia, and it’s attached to an Alfa Romeo, then quite a lot – not least a serious weight of expectation.
In the quarter of a century since Alfa last offered a rear-wheel-drive saloon (the 75) – and arguably for longer than that – its cars have been beloved in spite of their abilities rather than because of them, trading on past glories and an evocative badge.
But now, after a series of false dawns, we have the Giulia Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo. Those last few details are promising, aren’t they?
And they result in a faintly ridiculous 503bhp, delivered to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ’box operated by a pair of exquisite cast-aluminium paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
Exquisite is the word for this machine: there are flaws – the infotainment system, for example – but this is a beautifully put-together jewel of a car.
There’s lots of exposed carbonfibre – it’s real, too, for the bonnet and roof – and the interior is a special place to sit, hugged by superb sports seats and faced with cowled dials beneath a sculptural sweep of dashboard covered with soft leather.
The driving position is BTCC-perfect, and the red starter button on the steering wheel is a gimmick that’s hard to dislike.
Firing with a muted blare, the Quadrifoglio shimmies at idle, giving a hint of what’s to come.
Click the ‘Alfa DNA Pro’ dial to ‘normal’ and the Giulia remains remarkably supple, the adaptive dampers reacting to rough surfaces and keeping things relatively serene.
Turn it round to ‘Race’, however, and the Alfa’s inner devil is released as the exhaust gets louder, the driver aids are disengaged and every response sharpens.
Remember those great rear-drive Alfas? This one is better: it’s predictable, poised, and incredibly wieldy for a near-1600kg four-door, with wonderfully responsive steering and monstrous grip from the Pirelli P-Zero Corsas – 245/35 front, 285/30 rear – that wrap those fabulous 19in alloys.
You can’t help but miss the almost orchestral sound of the old Alfa V6: this Ferrari-derived unit’s song is masked by turbos and overscored by an angry cackle from the exhausts, spitting in disgust if you short-shift and urging you to the redline despite the whopping low-down torque.
Gears slam in with gut-punching aggression and the pace is outrageous, smashing 60mph in less than 4 secs and tramping into three figures in a heartbeat.
Exploit that pace, however, and it develops a single-figure thirst while your points tally takes a battering.
After the disappointing Giulietta revival, the Giulia more than lives up to its name. Gorgeous, intensely brilliant to drive and dripping with desirability, it’s the best Alfa for a generation.
The glory days are well and truly back.
Images: Tony Baker
- Engine 2891cc twin-turbo V6; 503bhp @ 6500rpm; 443lb ft @ 2500rpm
- Transmission eight-speed semi-automatic, RWD
- 0-60mph 3.9 secs
- Top speed 191mph
- Mpg 34.4
- Price £61,295