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- Highs Heartthrob body, mesmerizing motor music, revelatory sedan performance.
- Lows Questionable reliability, needs a manual gearbox, poor interior build quality.
- Verdict An exotic sports-sedan superpower that transcends the genre.
Alfa Romeo may be unfamiliar to many Americans, but its beautifully curved and brutally powerful Giulia Quadrifoglio is a kick-ass way to kick-start awareness. Based on the superb Giulia sedan, the QF (for short) boasts a 505-hp twin-turbo V-6 and countless track-focused modifications. While both variants serve different masters, their impeccable ride quality and precise handling were primary reasons that we named them to our 2019 Editors' Choice list. Enthusiasts will appreciate the QF's rousing exhaust note and communicative chassis responses but may question the use of an automatic-only gearbox as well as Alfa's build quality and reliability. Still, this sexy sports sedan is worthy of a centerfold and guaranteed to arouse your—ahem—senses.
What's New for 2019?
None of the parts that make the 2019 Giulia Quadrifoglio so fantastic to drive have changed. Instead, it adds a folding rear seat that instantly makes the sedan a better travel companion. Every model also adds anodized brake calipers with Alfa Romeo in red letters on them. The QF can now be equipped with heated rear seats and a premium alarm system. Likewise, the new options include the Nero Edizione and Exterior Carbon Fiber package. The former features dark exterior trim pieces while the latter adds carbon-fiber accents to the exterior; both require certain wheel combinations.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
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Without adding a single option, the QF has a substantial list of standard equipment, such as heated and power-adjustable leather-trimmed front seats, adaptive dampers and a torque-vectoring rear differential, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with navigation. We'd love to opt for the carbon-ceramic Brembo brake package, but $8000 is too rich for our blood. The Driver Assistance Dynamic package, however, makes a lot of sense. It includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beams, and more.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Herculean acceleration, sonorous exhaust noises, otherworldly driving responses.
Dislikes: Turbo lag at lower engine speeds, no manual transmission, dubious reliability.
Implanted with a rhapsodic twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 and a well-calibrated eight-speed automatic transmission, the rear-drive-only Giulia Quadrifoglio is a riot to pilot. The Italian-built, Ferrari-derived engine produces 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque and a spine-tingling timbre that shames most rivals. Too bad a manual transmission isn't available on the U.S. version, and several mechanical glitches we experienced have reminded us of Alfa's infamous reliability issues. The Giulia's engine contains its excitement when cruising at low rpm and in top gear. Applying the throttle below 3000 rpm results in a hint of hesitation, but then the twin turbos spool up and power builds in a whirlwind of acceleration and a ripping exhaust note. It's a spectacular sensation that is simultaneously exotic and intoxicating. Large steering-column-mounted paddles are perfectly placed and sweet to squeeze. Its eight-speed automatic gearbox is decisive and imitates the quickness of dual-clutch alternatives in its sportier drive modes.
A supple chassis is the heart and soul of this Italian-bred masterpiece. Every Quadrifoglio is fitted with adaptive dampers and a set of 19-inch wheels wrapped in super-sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber. While we were surprised at the Alfa's capability on the track, its perfect damping and notable isolation from harsh impacts during daily driving were equally surprising—and welcome. Even in zestier drive modes, the ride quality wasn't compromised. And then there's the sensational steering setup: the thin-rimmed wheel feels like a blast from the past, with feather-light effort, communicative feedback, and pleasingly quick response. The culmination of these traits is what separates the Quadrifoglio from its main rivals. Even without the optional carbon-ceramic Brembo disc brakes, our test car provided impressive stopping power and recorded the second-shortest emergency-braking distance (152 feet) in this comparison test. Although the Giulia's standard setup was suitable for daily driving, its firm brake pedal had inconsistent feedback. Still, the version we flogged at our 2017 Lightning Lap proved its braking capability at the track.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Giulia QF and its supersedan rivals are virtually tied atop the EPA ratings, with the Alfa earning 17 mpg city and 24 highway. The version we tested on our 200-mile fuel-economy route managed to beat its highway estimate by 2 mpg.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Fantastic driving position, supportive front seats, myriad standard features.
Dislikes: Mediocre build quality, limited interior cubby storage.
The Alfa's interior successfully incorporates race inspiration and rich influence. A satisfying driving position promotes spirited romps, but some cheap plastics and cumbersome access points are reductive. Inside, our test car was composed of leather surfaces and faux-suede accents. The attractive front seats were supportive without being restrictive. A pair of racing-oriented Recaro buckets are available, but they lack the power adjustments and heating elements of the standard set. The flowing dashboard and circular design scheme carry over from the regular Giulia, and the Quadrifoglio adds copious amounts of carbon-fiber trim. Too bad the shift knob felt chintzy and the plastic panels below the hip level were shoddy.
The infotainment system's center screen is controlled by a rotary knob on the center console that also functions as a touchpad. The lack of touch functions might seem questionable, but the physical controls are effective and intuitive. The 8.8-inch display is overshadowed by the asymmetrical bezel that surrounds it, but the dashboard ledge above blocks glare. While the interface is straightforward, the deep menu system will require familiarity. Still, Alfa's system has a wealth of features and customization opportunities and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
We fit four carry-on bags in the QF's trunk. Apart from narrow door pockets, a reasonably sized center console constitutes front-row storage. Likewise, back-seat passengers are limited to small door pockets and netting on the back of the front seats.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The high-performance Giulia has not been crash-tested here in the U.S. However, the swoopy sedan has standard driver assists such as automated emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring plus a slew of available equipment. Key safety features include:
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Available lane-departure warning
- Available automatic high-beam headlights
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Alfa Romeo provides an average limited and powertrain warranty. Its corrosion protection is also average, but its complimentary scheduled maintenance is shorter than BMW's.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles