Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States has been slow-going. Its latest sports car, however, is anything but. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is not only the most powerful car the automaker has ever sold, but it’s also the fastest. The BMW M3-fighter has a 505 hp twin-turbocharged V6 that was engineered for Alfa Romeo by its cousins at Ferrari. It’ll hit a top speed of 191 mph. Not bad for a compact sedan.
But while those big numbers tell part of the story, it’s a small one that sums up what this car is all about. At the hands of an Alfa test driver, the GQ (that’ll work) lapped the benchmark 12.9-mile-long Nurburgring Nordschleife track in Germany in a mere 7 minutes and 32 seconds. That’s faster than any four-door car ever and exactly how you make an entrance into a very competitive segment.
An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive come standard, and you have no say in the matter. Along with the drivetrain updates, the curvy, muscular GQ gets an adaptive suspension system; a carbon fiber hood and roof to lighten the load; a wide set of sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires; scythe-like rocker panel extensions that look like they could amputate your foot at the ankle as you’re getting in the car; and a front splitter that juts out farther at high speeds to increase downforce and improve the car’s always excellent handling.
The valet was right. It is fast. The torque doesn’t hit you all at once — it’s a surge that builds with engine speed — but there’s enough of it from a dead stop that I felt the need to apologize to a passenger for slamming her head into the seat when I merged onto a highway.
ALFA ROMEO 4C TEST DRIVE
There and around town the GQ exhibits the same kind of smooth, controlled ride as a Jaguar, and that’s the highest praise I can give a car. It’s a magic carpet that defies its stiff steamroller tires on all surfaces, but isn’t numbing. The GQ is engaging at all speeds — even the posted ones.
After I had enough of those, I took it for a few laps at Lime Rock Park, which seemed appropriate, since the track is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and its very first race was won by an Alfa Romeo.
ALFA ROMEO 4C SPIDER TEST DRIVE
Selecting Race mode, I thundered out of the pits, entered the first turn and knew I wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. Besides being quick, the GQ is alive. It’s as if Alfa Romeo boss Reid Bigland (real name) told the development team, “You know that stereotype about Italian cars having a soul? Being passionate and all that stuff? Yeah, do that.”
Old Alfa Romeo had nasty reputation for poor reliability, of course, but everything worked fine in the week I had the GQ, and there haven’t been any reports of major owner backlash — though there aren’t too many of these on the road yet to whine about.
I’d be willing take a chance on it, at least on a lease with a full warranty. If you want to hold off for a year to see how things shake out, go ahead, but it’ll be a slow year.