ALFA ROMEO’S NEW GI­U­LIA

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South Africans and Namib­ians have both had a long-last­ing love af­fair with Alfa Romeo's de­lec­ta­ble Gi­u­lia.

The pas­sion­ate re­la­tion­ship (for Al­fisti, at least) started 55 years ago when the orig­i­nal Gi­u­lia, the Tipo 105 Ber­lina, and its sub­se­quent sub-types be­came the first Alfa model range to be built in South Africa in sub­stan­tial num­bers.

From CKD kits as­sem­bled at CDA ( Car Dis­trib­u­tors and Assem­blers) in East Lon­don pro­duc­tion moved to Ross­lyn where Su­per and TI mod­els were built. In­ter­est­ingly, af­ter 1970 South Africa was the only coun­try pro­duc­ing Gi­u­lia mod­els in right-hand drive.

It was also the birth­place of some rather in­ter­est­ing and ex­clu­sive Gi­u­lia de­riv­a­tives, like the 1972 1600 Ral­lye – which was a more pow­er­ful 1600cc ver­sion of the 1300 Su­per with the 1300s sin­gle­head­light body shell, and the 2000 Ral­lye, which had a 2000 Ber­lina en­gine fit­ted to a 1600 Su­per body. But then, in 1978, pro­duc­tion of the Alfa Romeo Type 105 was dis­con­tin­ued, and for nearly forty years the name Gi­u­lia dis­ap­peared… Its legacy was sus­tained (well, kind of) by the Type 116 Gi­uli­etta, the 75 (the last rear-wheel drive sedan from Mi­lan for about 30 years), the 155, 156 and the 159.

But then in 2015, as part one of Alfa Romeo's re­vival plan, the new, rein­vented Gi­u­lia was un­veiled in Arese Italy, to high ac­claim. With its pseu­doGer­manic looks it may have lost some Ital­ian sen­su­al­ity and fi­nesse, but it also has gained con­fi­dence and poise.

Its power dome, strong waist lines and dis­tinc­tive kink in the C- pil­lar is el­e­gant and grace­ful, yet ag­gres­sive. And in top-line Quadri­foglio Verde its svelte and new at­tire is even more un­com­pro­mis­ingly as­sertive.

A dis­tinc­tive front split­ter and huge air in­takes, rear body in­serts, strate­gi­cally placed air out­lets and huge 19-inch al­loy wheels ac­cen­tu­ate its pur­pose­ful stance and, coated in the sig­na­ture Com­pe­tizione Red, the QV Race Edi­tion looks mean and men­ac­ing.

Ul­tra-light ma­te­ri­als abound. Car­bon fi­bre is used for the bon­net, roof, front split­ter, rear body in­serts and the drive­shaft, alu­minium for the doors and wheel arches, and alu­minium com­pos­ite for the rear cross mem­ber – keep­ing weight down to1,524kg.

Its overt sporti­ness is fur­ther re­flected by real car­bon fi­bre in­te­rior ac­cents, front Sparco car­bon fi­bre seat shells and sporty seats, stylish leather and al­can­tara up­hol­stery.

The well- de­signed dash is dom­i­nated by the in­te­grated Con­nect Nav 3D sys­tem and all the Gi­u­lia’s main con­trols, in­clud­ing the red start but­ton, are in­cor­po­rated in the new steer­ing wheel.

Two user-friendly knobs on the gear­box tun­nel ad­just the Alfa DNA Pro selector and the hi-tech in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The sedan’s aura of ex­clu­siv­ity is com­pleted by a plaque read­ing Race Edi­tion num­ber (here, 13 of 30) and a high­qual­ity Har­man Kar­don sound the­atre sys­tem.

In terms of Gi­u­lia’s in­te­rior re­fine­ment the QV matches the best its Teu­tonic ri­vals can of­fer (and even sur­passes it with a de­cid­edly more el­e­gant in­fo­tain­ment screen so­lu­tion), and un­der­neath the skin Alfa re­turned to the orig­i­nal Gi­u­lia blue­print; mat­ing a pow­er­ful en­gine with rear-wheel drive in a light­weight four- door body.

How­ever, in the new QV model the hal­lowed light al­loy twin over­head cam four- cylin­der en­gines have been re­placed by a highly ad­vanced Fer­raride­vel­oped full alu­minium 2.9litre V6 Biturbo petrol en­gine.

It de­liv­ers a whop­ping 375kw and a max­i­mum twist­ing force of 600Nm, and cou­pled to an 8- speed auto gear­box, it's claimed top speed is 307km/h and ac­cel­er­a­tion time from 0 to 100km/h is 3.9 sec­onds. It also pro­vides best-in-class emis­sion lev­els ( 189 g/ km CO2) due to an elec­tron­i­cal­ly­con­trolled cylin­der dis­abling sys­tem and fea­tures mas­sive car­bon ce­ramic brake discs (which are ex­clu­sive to the Race Edi­tion).

A host of driver aids such as the In­te­grated Brake Sys­tem (IBS), an ac­tive sus­pen­sion, Torque Vec­tor­ing sys­tem and an Ac­tive Aero Split­ter, are in­cluded in the pack­age, plus the full com­ple­ment of safety sys­tems.

Ev­ery­thing in­side the Gi­u­lia QV – from the po­si­tion and fit of the leather and al­can­tara clad seat, the steer­ing wheel (em­bossed with the new Alfa Romeo logo), the big gear pad­dles to the con­trol knobs and the ped­als – just feels right.

Push the red but­ton and the muted, ur­gent bur­ble-gur­gle from the twin-turbo V6 warns you of the mo­tor’s sup­pressed po­ten­tial. Turn the DNA Pros­e­lec­tor past the “Dy­namic”, “Nat­u­ral” or its “Ad­vanced” Ef­fi­ciency (a first on an Alfa Romeo) to Race mode. Hold on tight to the sporty steer­ing wheel, and squash the car’s ac­cel­er­a­tor…

With the Bi-turbo V6 en­gine bel­low­ing – mim­ick­ing more Wag­ner than Verdi, more Beethoven than Puc­cini – the QV ef­fort­lessly sprints to over 200km/ h, its trick Chas­sis Do­main Con­trol smoothly har­ness­ing all the ban­shee forces.

And this is what makes the new Gi­u­lia QV so ex­cep­tional.

Even at its per­for­mance lim­its all in­puts of the car seem so un­com­pli­cated. You do not have to fid­get with nu­mer­ous set­tings to get it to per­form, and you don't need to worry about what it might do next.

It will tell you, in­stantly and timeously.

The car­bon brakes are deadly, its han­dling and body con­trol is ex­em­plary, and even in Dy­namic mode the ride isn't harsh or un­pleas­ant. Alfa Romeo has put lots of time and ef­fort into this car, and the re­sult re­flects this. I

t's a proper su­per sedan, one that can con­fi­dently take on the best from M, AMG and RS… and it's a more than wor­thy suc­ces­sor to the orig­i­nal Alfa Romeo Gi­u­lia.

But, at $1.4 mil­lion for the QV Launch Edi­tion and about $1.6 mil­lion for the Race Edi­tion, it isn't cheap.

Its lesser 2-litre petrol turbo sib­lings with their 4-cylin­der Mul­ti­air en­gines (147kw at 5,000rpm and up to 330Nm of torque from 1,750rpm) are sold in Base ( N$ 555,000), Su­per (N$625,000) and Stile Pack (N$695,000) trim lev­els.

This is quite steep com­pared to sim­i­larly specced BMW 3Series, Merc C-class and Audi A4 mod­els, and will surely test the strength of the long re­la­tion­ship with Alfa Romeo and Gi­u­lia – as seem­ingly only suit­ors of con­sid­er­able means need ap­ply…

Ferdi de Vos Var­i­ous sources Text Images

Bel­lis­sima!F We drive Alfa's gor­geous new Gi­u­lia.

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