What is the ultimate sports sedan? This may seem like a trivial question dreamt up by those only interested in the most specific niches of the automotive world, but this is in fact a discussion that serves all users of the car. In my opinion, the best sports sedan is effectively also the best all-around car that one can buy. A proper sports sedan has to be spacious, safe, quick, economical, and well-priced all while still being full of character. It’s no easy feat to combine all these traits into one perfect package, but that’s exactly what I’m searching for with the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
I wanted to find a more sophisticated and enlightening way of saying this, but the Giulia is simply a fantastic car to drive. The car I tested, the top-of-the-line Quadrifoglio version, came equipped with the Ferrari-derived 2.9L twin-turbo V6. This masterpiece belts out 505 hp, carries you to a top speed of 191 mph and propels you from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds. This means then that in statistical terms the Alfa matches up quite well with a fierce competitor: the BMW M3. However, this being an Italian car, the Alfa is about much more than just the specs sheet. Under acceleration, it almost feels like you’re stuck in a paradox. You get the roar of the pompous V6 reminding you that you’ve stomped on the gas pedal, but then it just feels like you effortlessly glide along until you glance down at the speedometer and realize just how fast you’re actually going. Even though this car has two turbochargers, I can’t say that I really felt any turbo lag, especially at low RPMs. While the Alfa’s acceleration was satisfactory, it was something that I expected out of the car. It would be more of a surprise to me if the Ferrari-derived engine didn’t provide phenomenal acceleration and straight-line speed. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the handling.
When it comes to cornering, the Alfa can occasionally be a tricky beast. This being said, when you do get it right, you’re in for a world of fun. The Alfa comes equipped with an active front splitter, active suspension, and a substantial weight loss program courtesy of carbon fiber. The car also has an almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution between the front and rear axle. All of this means that the car feels very well-balanced throughout the phase of a corner. The steering doesn’t feel overly light or heavy, there’s a perfect compromise that allows you to feel out a corner and gain the confidence you need to really attack it. To me, the Giulia feels more like a sports car than a sedan. It’s agile, direct, and simply wonderful. Really, there’s only one potential gray area with the handling: the RWD system. With the Alfa, when you do reach the grip limit, you get punished pretty quickly. Personally, I don’t mind this at all. As the driver, I feel that I have to truly drive the car. There are no electronic controls doing the job for me. Yes, the car is controlled and well-balanced, but finding that moment of cornering perfection is a delicate and rewarding process. This being said, if you are a businessman in your forties who has just dropped a large sum of money on a car, you might want an AWD system. This way, you can feel a bit more comfortable chucking the car into corners at high speeds. However, I think an AWD system would prove to be more problematic than helpful. Firstly, the weight added by the AWD system would completely throw off the balance of the car and essentially erase all of the work that Alfa put into making the car as light as possible. Even more importantly, the RWD configuration is perfect for purists and only adds to the old-school driving experience that the Alfa provides. So, just think twice before you label the RWD system as a drawback.
I think that I’m right in saying the Alfa has a clear advantage over its German competitors in this category. If you disagree with me, may I bring up the new BMW M3? Anyways, I digress. If we view the Quadrifoglio from the front, we see the famous V-shaped Scudetto grill. This is one of the most definitive marks of an Alfa Romeo and I love the fact that it was included in the design. Moving along the side of the car we also notice air vents behind the front wheel arches, as well as the famous Quadrifoglio badge. In Italian, quadrifoglio means four-leaf clover, and the badge was first used as a good luck charm for Alfa’s racing drivers back in the early 1900s when death behind the wheel was all too common. This brings me to a larger point. Everything about the Giulia seems to be old school, but in a way that still works well in the modern world. I mean how wonderful is it that with this one simple badge you’re carrying on a tradition that dates back to Enzo Ferrari and an Alfa Romeo race car that he ran in 1923? To be honest, it’s hard to give insightful commentary on the design so I’m going to keep this simple: just look at it! It looks better than a BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or Maserati. If you disagree with me, there is such a thing called the comments section.
The interior is probably the one area of criticism that I’m a bit indifferent about. It’s not the best interior that I’ve seen, but it’s also not the worst. The seating position is surprisingly low, and the wide door sill means that getting in isn’t as easy as you would like. The A and B pillars are also not very well placed. In fact, the placement of the B pillar brings a whole new meaning to the term blind spot. Still, that’s the wonderful part about owning a Giulia. Instead of these issues being truly problematic, we can just label all these design faults as a spot of classic Alfa charm. This being said, the one thing about the interior that I do actually quite like is the steering wheel. It’s very well proportioned, has beautifully milled aluminum paddle shifters, and is perfectly positioned for the driver.
This is perhaps the biggest question mark with the Giulia and the Quadrifoglio model in particular. A brand new Quadrifoglio starts at around $75,000. For comparison, a new BMW M3 starts at just under $70,000 while a new Mercedes AMG C 63 starts at around $68,000. Only the Audi RS5 matches the Alfa with an MSRP of, again, around $75,000. This particular car that I got the chance to test was a 2018 model that the owner was able to pick up used for around $50,000. The owner has noted that since picking up the car there have been no major issues other than the gauge cluster momentarily cutting out every once in a while. Again, instead of calling it a drawback, maybe we can chalk that up to Alfa giving us an insight into what it means to own an Italian car. So, would I buy a Giulia over any of the other cars I just mentioned? Sounds like it’s time for a conclusion.
Jeremy Clarkson has always said that to be a true car enthusiast you have to own an Alfa Romeo at some point. After driving the Giulia, I can see why. $75,000 might sound like a lot compared to the BMW M3, a car that is already spectacular in its own right, but the Alfa has something more: character. Sure it might be hard to check your blind spots, the electronics might just suddenly stop working once in a blue moon, and if you drive it fast enough you might accidentally have a big crash, but I simply don’t care. No car that I have driven has put a bigger smile on my face than the Alfa. It’s a car that stays true to Alfa’s rich pedigree while still using modern technology to make the driving experience as thrilling as possible. To be honest, I’m not sure that I’d go as far as claiming that the Alfa is better than the BMW M5 (my pick for the ultimate sports sedan). However, if we’re talking specifically about the mid-size sports sedan market, I have no problem saying that the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is indeed your best option.
“2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Speed, Style, Power”. Alfa Romeo Has Been An Iconic Italian Luxury And High Performance Car Manufacturer For Over 110 Years. Explore The Alfa Romeo USA Sports Car And SUV Lineup. , 2021, https://www.alfaromeousa.com/cars/giulia/quadrifoglio. Accessed 26 July 2021.
“Alfa Romeo Giulia (952) – Wikipedia”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfa_Romeo_Giulia_(952). Accessed 26 July 2021.