Following our road test of the Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0-litre, I was intrigued to find out what the flagship, fire-breathing Quadrifoglio (QV) variant would do and, more important, how it squares with the perennial BMW M3.
Many motoring journalists have lauded the Alfa for its balance when the road kinks and its disposition on the track. So it was with this picture in mind that my anticipation to compare to the M3 was overwhelming.
However, this test would not be about how fast the car goes when the taps are opened, but how it does the daily, mundane stuff of carting the kids to school and commuting to the office. To that end, in normal or eco mode on the drive-mode switch, the QV scores highly.
Styling wise, it is an endearing thing to behold. The regular models are already pleasing to the eye and the QV turns up the visual charm, thanks to an active carbon-fibre front splitter, carbon-fibre side sills, 19-inch anthracite alloy wheels wrapped in sticky Pirelli Corsa tyres and a carbon-fibre boot spoiler, all of which are part of the Race Edition models — 30 of which have been brought into SA. There is also the extended rear valance with a diffuser and obligatory quad exhausts.
The cabin is a pleasant place to be, with this particular model featuring carbon-fibre shell bucket seats and further lashings of carbon fibre on the centre tunnel. The perfect-sized steering wheel is wrapped in leather and Alcantara and metal shift paddles. The seating position is perfect too.
Jab the red engine start button and the engine fires up with a deep V6 bark before settling into a muffled gurgle. Driving in the two aforementioned modes means the engine’s vocals are muted and the throttle neutered. The suspension is relatively firm, but not the worst in the segment. Although broken tarmac does make things relatively fidgety and speed bumps ought to be taken with caution.
That eight-speed gearbox is great for daily driving, shifting fairly smoothly through each gear. Flick the rotary drive-mode knob into “D” for dynamic and the QV begins to get into its stride. The throttle assumes a sharper setting, while the suspension firms up and the exhaust flaps open and begin to boom from around 3 500rpm.
Nail the throttle in a straight line and this thing bolts to the horizon at a fair lick and progress is decidedly swift. Handling, which displays prodigious levels of grip, is another success. The back remains in check, thanks largely to those sticky rear tyres, particularly once they are up to optimal operating temperature.
Should you be even braver, then flick the drive-mode rotary dial to Race mode, which neuters the traction control and any other driver aids, giving you full rein to play with the vehicle.
Surprisingly, the suspension assumes a softer setting, which is great for track exploits, but I felt that a separate switch to firm the suspension as you wish would be welcome, as the vehicle’s nose tends to dip more under hard braking and lifts under full throttle.
Just as I was about to really get under the skin of the model and find out if it is worth buying over a BMW M3, it suddenly went into limp mode with the instrument cluster beaming a “check engine” warning. The vehicle remained like this for the rest of the test.
Trolling through online Alfa Romeo owner forums, it seemed what I experienced was not an isolated matter. We tried to solicit a reason from Alfa Romeo SA but could not get a clear indication as to the reason for the electronic maladies.
Suffice to say that if you are considering buying this model over an equivalent BMW M3 or a Mercedes-AMG C63, we would advise you not to do so, at least until we ascertain what the electronic issue entails. –Lerato Matebese
Fast Facts: Alfa Romeo Quadrafolio Verde
Engine: 2891cc V6 bi-turbo petrol
Power: 375kW at 6 500rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 2 500rpm
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 3.9 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 307km/h (governed)
Fuel: 8.2l/100km (combined)
CO2: 189g/km (combined)
Price: From R1 400 000