On the onset, I should let you, the reader, know that my review of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will in no way, shape, or form influence whether or not you will consider it as your next new car. This is because the people who buy the $70,000+ Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will fall into one of these three categories:
1. The Alfa lover who needs something modern to drive because the Milano, Spider, Giulia Super, and 4C that have cycled through the garage just aren’t cutting it.
2. The person who is sick of the M3, C63, or RC F in the company parking lot, wants something different, and bought into the “Italian emotion” narrative.
3. Someone who really wanted the Giulia Quadrifoglio and bought it for a song as a dealer demo car or from the first owner wants to be rid of the car. They may have also gotten a killer lease deal.
Notice how I didn’t include “because of the reviews” as a reason. That’s because the reviews (including this one) will pretty much say the same thing. That the car drives extremely well (I would take it over the current M3 in a heartbeat), it’s Italian (well, duh), the controls are straightforward (no iDrive or COMAND to deal with brings big benefits), it makes a great exhaust sound (oh yes, it truly does), that the dealer and servicing network is too small (it is), reliability may be an issue (Google “Quadrifoglio problems”), and that it may be smaller than most people would like (anyone that can afford a Quadrifoglio can likely afford gym membership).
Thankfully, Alfa Romeo knows everything I wrote in the first paragraph. So I’m going to discuss this car’s significance. The Quadrifoglio exists for people to find out Alfa Romeo offers a practical mainstream Italian car that isn’t a FIAT 500. They want people to remember the Super Bowl ad of the Italian car driving on the winding road making a raspy noise. They want people to visit their nearest Alfa Romeo showroom. They expect people’s jaws to drop once they see the price of a Quadrifoglio. The Alfa salespeople will offer to show them a lower-priced Giulia. And the customer will buy a Giulia with the turbocharged 280 horsepower four-cylinder (that does 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds), which was the plan all along, increasing Alfa’s sales numbers and market share.
Alfa, like all other automakers, wants a piece of the lucrative entry-luxury car market, which has long been defined by the BMW 3-Series. It wins awards left and right, the profit margins are large, the buyers are relatively affluent and well-educated, and it sells in huge numbers. Numerous companies have tried to get a piece of that action. Some, like the Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, and Lexus IS, have done very well. Some, like the Infiniti Q50, Acura TLX, and Cadillac ATS, have not. And for an entry-luxury car to succeed, it must do well in the American market, which is why the rear-drive Giulia is available in a $40,000 version and not just in $72,000 Quadrifoglio form. The number of Americans buying Quadrifoglios simply would never reach quadruple digits per year.
But we’ve gone too far into the boring aspect of the car. The Quadrifoglio is supposed to be the image stuck in our heads when we think of an alternative to another leased 3-Series or C-Class. The Giulia is meant to be the Italian sport sedan. It is supposed to be the car you live to drive because the BMW and Mercedes have become way too boring and mainstream. The one you get because the 4C is too impractical and expensive. And if you have always wanted an Alfa but the lack of practicality and a new car warranty was holding you back, Alfa Romeo has you covered with the Giulia.
However, there are some issues in the comfort and practicality department. The Sparco racing-style seats in the Alfa aren’t heated or infinitely adjustable like in the competition. Drivers over six feet tall and weight over 200 pounds will not find the comfortable. The back seat doesn’t have enough legroom and the trunk not enough cargo room compared to a C63 or M3. You’ll only get 300 miles or less out of a tank of gas. No head-up display is available. There is no free maintenance like the BMW. You may have to drive longer than usual to get the car serviced. (It doesn’t help that Alfa has a longstanding reputation in the United States for less than stellar reliability.) Alfa Romeo doesn’t care about any of that except the last part as it limits the potential buyer pool.
That’s because Alfa Romeo is knows what the buyers of performance sedans appreciate. The sound in a Quadrifoglio is real. There is nothing pumped through the speakers of the car. Whatever sounds you hear come directly from the engine and the exhaust. The steering feel is real. In an M3 or a C63, the steering feel is ruined by the electric variable power steering found on most cars nowadays. The Alfa thankfully has a very hydraulic-feeling steering. Furthermore, there are only four modes: Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficiency, and Race. Compare this to an M3, where go-fast mode involves putting the engine in one setting, the steering in another, the suspension on another setting, and then the dual-clutch transmission need to be in another mode, leading to hundreds of different variations.
Ultimately, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will not be a sales triumph. It will not outsell the BMW M3 or the Mercedes C63 AMG. With a starting price of $72,000 and small Alfa dealer network, getting the Quadrifoglio into American driveways is a tough proposition. The people who buy the Quadrifoglio will be a) Alfa enthusiasts, b) wannabe non-conformists, and c) deal hunters. But Alfa should succeed in intercepting those returning their leased 328i or C300 and getting them into a four-cylinder Giulia, because there’s nothing else like it in most corporate parking lots. Once the sales numbers for the 2017 model year Giulia are released, we will truly know if the Giulia Quadrifoglio was an overall success.