ALFA ROMEO GIULIA QUADRIFOGLIO

The great­est of the Gi­u­lias has all the Alfa ar­ma­ments it needs to make any petrol­head feel like a Ro­man ruler in the sports saloon arena.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - STORY DAVID TING LO­CA­TION MI­LAN, ITALY

AAM I driv­ing a flashy Fer­rari? Ran­dom Ital­ian chil­dren at the au­tostrada Au­to­grill are ex­cited to see the car. Bolog­nese boyrac­ers in as­sorted Fi­ats and Seats slow down sud­denly or speed up en­thu­si­as­ti­cally to check out the car. Cu­ri­ous old men seated out­side trat­to­rias turn their heads to gawk at the car.

I’m not driv­ing a flashy Fer­rari. I’m driv­ing an Alfa Romeo saloon with a “Fer­rari-in­spired” mo­tor (to quote from the press re­lease).

The in­spi­ra­tion in ques­tion has man­i­fested in the form of a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6, a me­chan­i­cal mas­ter­piece that gen­er­ates 510bhp and 600Nm, all sent to the rear axle of the Giulia Quadrifoglio (“Clover­leaf” in Ital­ian).

With a power-to-weight ra­tio of over 300bhp per tonne, the GQ is one chop-chop clover­leaf, hit­ting 100km/h from a stand­still in 3.9 sec­onds and crack­ing the 300km/h mark. I don’t know how many sec­onds it takes to dash from 100km/h to 200km/h, but I know it takes my breath away.

It’s way faster than the last rapid Alfa I drove, the 4C ju­nior su­per­car. It’s al­most as fast as the Fer­rari blast from the past (I never drove) with a 2.9-litre en­gine and twin IHI tur­bos, just like the GQ – the F40.

The GQ is a quick de­cel­er­a­tor, too – 100km/h to a stop in 32 me­tres, ac­cord­ing to Alfa Romeo.

Thank­fully, it also de­cel­er­ates quickly enough on the au­tostrada to avoid rear-end­ing a pesky Fiat 500 that does an Indy 500 on me by cut­ting into the fast lane taken by the frig­ging fast Alfa.

The hard brak­ing is less heart-stop­ping than ex­pected, with only the tick-tock­ing of the au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vated hazard lights to in­di­cate the se­ri­ous­ness of the slow­down.

The brake pedal feels well-mod­u­lated un­der­foot, the size­able disc brakes bite nicely and the whole struc­ture re­mains steady, with noth­ing lean­ing like the Tower of Pisa. But the GQ is no Venice gon­dola ride for the road trip­per. There’s no­tice­able noise

from the low-pro­file Pirelli rub­ber, plus wind turbulence from the side mir­rors, front pil­lars and rear win­dows that starts at around 100km/h, be­com­ing more tur­bu­lent with ev­ery 20km/h in­cre­ment.

Thank good­ness there’s a rous­ing Ital­ian opera housed in the en­gine room. The GQ V6 is a re­spon­sive de­vice, re­act­ing promptly to throt­tle in­puts and revving im­me­di­ately from grum­bling-in-back­ground to rum­bling-in-fore­ground.

The V6 is ex­pres­sive, too, clearly con­vey­ing its in­tent to the driver at ev­ery point of the ex­cel­lent per­for­mance. The sound­track pro­duced by the six cylin­ders and four ex­haust pipes is more force­ful than tuneful, so it’s closer to Maserati than Pavarotti, but there’s op­er­atic drama to be en­joyed at the far end of the “Giri x 1000” tachome­ter.

The red gra­da­tion starts at 6600rpm, but the nee­dle sweeps be­yond that and only calls it a day at about 7300rpm where the slick rev lim­iter re­sides.

Trans­fer­ring the power to the rear wheels (the GQ’s 19-inch rims look best to me with the “five-leaf clover” de­sign) is an 8-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

It shifts less sweetly than to­day’s BMW 8-speeder and Benz 9-speeder when tool­ing around town, but picks up the pace in sync with the driver’s per­for­mance de­mands and ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal an­gle.

For DIY shift­ing, there’s a pair of gi­gan­tic, metal­lic pad­dles (left one to down­shift, right one to up­shift) and a pla­s­ticky gear­lever (for­wards to down­shift, back­wards to up­shift).

Tap­ping those pad­dles is more sat­is­fy­ing than push­ing/ pulling the lever, but they some­times get in the way when I’m reach­ing for the stalks. Need to drop a gear here and now? Done! Want to kick-down two or three gears at one go? Go!

The au­to­matic goes bal­lis­tic in Race mode which is, well, the raci­est op­tion of­fered by the GQ’s be­hav­iour mod­i­fier called Alfa DNA Pro. The sys­tem, op­er­ated by a knob on the cen­tre con­sole be­side the driver, mod­i­fies the be­hav­iour of the en­gine, trans­mis­sion, sus­pen­sion, steer­ing, brakes and torquevec­tor­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial. The sys­tem also changes the in­stru­ment dis­play to match the mode. For in­stance, Race

mode shows video game-ish graph­ics in­clud­ing a lat­eral-g mon­i­tor, while Nat­u­ral shows an eco-coded colour picture of our planet and an un­read­able fuel econ­omy graph.

Se­lect­ing Race mode also brings up an in-dash mes­sage, “Best RACE ex­pe­ri­ence with shifter in man­ual”. If you fol­low the rec­om­men­da­tion, there’ll be a dra­matic “Shift” prompter to re­mind you to up­shift.

Atop the se­lec­tor is a but­ton with a damper sym­bol, which tweaks the damp­ing force sep­a­rately (to Soft or Mid) and hence slips an ad­justable vel­vet glove on the iron fist of the racy sus­pen­sion. The sys­tem has three more modes in ad­di­tion to Race – Dy­namic, Nat­u­ral, Ad­vanced Ef­fi­ciency (Alfa’s “DNA”, in other words). The “A” is a petrol­sav­ing mode able to de­ac­ti­vate one bank of cylin­ders. My favourite mode in the GQ is Dy­namic. It gives the car an ea­ger­ness to get a move on, with­out be­ing im­petu­ous. And it ac­cen­tu­ates the al­ready

ob­vi­ous sporti­ness of the car, with­out mak­ing the chas­sis go crazy or turn­ing the au­to­box into a power-crazed au­to­crat.

In­ci­den­tally, Dy­namic mode doesn’t dis­able the trac­tion con­trol, sta­bil­ity con­trol, For­ward Col­li­sion Warn­ing and Au­tonomous Emer­gency Brake. Race mode dis­ables all these by de­fault, prob­a­bly be­cause the real rac­ing driver prefers to scurry away un­aided.

Frankly, the Race mode is a bit much for me, es­pe­cially when I’m con­nect­ing the big dots on the GPS map of Italy be­tween Mi­lan, Maranello and Florence – a 1300km route in my case, in­clud­ing ma­jor de­tours.

The well-balanced Nat­u­ral mode works best for longdis­tance driv­ing, be­low and oc­ca­sion­ally above the posted speed lim­its, yet it re­mains ready to pro­vide max­i­mum mo­men­tum at a mo­ment’s no­tice.

Ac­ti­vat­ing the GQ’s Race mode is like invit­ing the Fer­rari F1 driv­ers into my Alfa test car – Se­bas­tian Vet­tel telling me to drive flat out no mat­ter what, Kimi Raikko­nen leav­ing me alone be­cause I know what I’m do­ing, and An­to­nio Giov­inazzi speak­ing with his hands like a typ­i­cal Ital­ian.

Speak­ing of hands, the GQ’s steer­ing wheel is an Alfa work of art. It’s a won­der­fully artis­tic com­bi­na­tion of black leather, blacker Al­can­tara, grey car­bon fi­bre in­serts and red stitches, with neatly in­te­grated switches which in­clude a red ig­ni­tion but­ton.

The ma­te­rial I grasp de­pends on where my hands hold the wheel – mostly leather at the 10 and 2 o’clock po­si­tions, mostly fabric at the 9 and 3 o’clock po­si­tions, mostly car­bon at the 8 and 4 o’clock po­si­tions. My hands feel so happy. And they stay happy while twirling the thing. Be­cause the steer­ing is per­fectly weighted, prop­erly cal­i­brated and ap­pro­pri­ately an­i­mated (never ag­i­tated) in ev­ery sce­nario – park­ing, pot­ter­ing, cruis­ing, cor­ner­ing, rush­ing.

The steer­ing is also ac­cu­rate, en­abling me to point the prow and plant the tena­cious front tyres pre­cisely where I want them.

This Alfa han­dles ex­actly like how it looks – stead­fast and pur­pose­ful. With a firm re­solve it grips the tar­mac, zips along and rips through cor­ners. The en­tirety of the driv­ing ma­chine syn­chro­nises with the driver as it pow­ers ahead and roars away.

It’s time for the Alfa to take a break and this failed Romeo to en­joy a caffe mocha, so let me eval­u­ate the in­te­rior as­pects of the car.

The front seats are su­perbly sup­port­ive, the rear seats are spa­cious for two adults and the 480-litre boot is roomy. The rear air-con vents are the same as those at the sides of the dash­board and have a sim­i­larly ef­fec­tive through­put.

Ev­ery­thing in the cabin – con­trols, colours, ma­te­ri­als, lids, bits and pieces – works well and feels well-made, but the plas­tics are more Fi­atChrysler than Fer­rari-Maserati.

Not im­pres­sive ei­ther are the doorbins (too small), front seat­back nets (not very use­ful), sat-nav in­put (slug­gish) and the trip com­puter’s range cal­cu­la­tor (un­cer­tain).

I am cer­tain, in con­clu­sion, that the Giulia Quadrifoglio has all the Alfa ar­ma­ments it needs to make any petrol­head feel like a Ro­man ruler in the sports saloon arena. Gla­di­a­tor Maximus, I salute you!

THE SOUND­TRACK PRO­DUCED BY THE SIX CYLIN­DERS AND FOUR EX­HAUST PIPES IS CLOSER TO MASERATI THAN PAVAROTTI.

NOVEM­BER 2017

This cock­pit is even more fan­tas­tic with the op­tional Sparco car­bon-shell front seats. This gor­geous Ital­ian su­per­model is drip­ping with car­bon fi­bre – bon­net, roof, front split­ter, rear spoiler, side skirts and even the brakes (car­bon­ce­ramic op­tion).

The GQ’s vir­ile V6 is stronger than a triple shot of es­presso early in the morn­ing and can gulp high-oc­tane fuel like a cof­fee junkie.

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