For car aficionados, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio needs little introduction. Since its 2016 debut, the sedan has cultivated a reputation as the perfect driver’s sedan. What perfect means will vary according to the individual driver, but if you enjoy the visceral thrill of driving a fast car down a curvy section of tarmac, it’s hard to beat the Giulia Quadrifoglio and its 505 horsepower, Ferrari-designed 2.9-liter turbocharged V6.
Americans aren’t getting the track-honed and crazy expensive Giulia GTA for 2020. But Alfa did give us a very light-touch refresh of the other Giulias, tinkering with the cabin materials and overhauling the infotainment with a new touchscreen. They did little, if anything, to change the driving dynamics but that’s all enthusiasts wanted.
Should you buy one? It depends. The Giulia Quadrifoglio may offer the most involving driving experience available among cars that can hold children and groceries. It has a distinct character, something can be lacking in modern performance cars. But many of us are more pragmatic than we think. And, with the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s equally well-earned reputation for unreliability, there’s a danger of flying too close to the sun.
This was my second time driving a Giulia Quadrifoglio. My first stint came in January on winter tires, which was sort of like drinking a great dram of scotch while having a head cold: I didn’t catch all of the nuances. On summer tires, this car is incredible. This four-door sedan breathes hot fire.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio delivers a well-rounded, sensual, nearly flawless driving experience. The steering response and road feel are otherworldy. That twin-turbo V6 offers tremendous raw power, and puts out some resonant, orchestral quality exhaust noise; I found myself shifting gears unnecessarily just to listen to it bleat.
That engine would be enough for this car to be special, but the Giulia Quadrifoglio balances that with ballerina-esque precision, lightness and grace. And, when you step back from the limit, the Giulia Quad becomes a reasonable, not-particularly bone-clattering means of transport.
But I’m not sure I would buy a Giulia Quadrifoglio
This may sound blasphemous, but hear me out: driving dynamics aren’t everything. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is an unquestioned performance beast, but you can’t take full advantage of that safely on normal roads.
Speed limits exist, and other drivers are everywhere and many of them are driving slowly and erratically in Buicks. You can’t floor it in a Giulia Quadrifoglio for very long on public roads; you can’t carry enough speed entering that corner to come close to the car’s limits.
While this Alfa is comfortable at low speed, you spend a lot of time driving around feeling constrained and annoyed.
If I were in the situation where I had $90,000 to spend on a daily driver, my head might win out over my heart. I would consider foregoing performance for luxury. You can enjoy a serene cabin and cushy seats every time you climb into a car, but unless you live near lightly traversed canyon roads, it’d be hard to ever get the most out of the Quadrifoglio on a daily basis. (If you really want performance, there are cheaper options that are more suited to public thoroughfares.)
You probably don’t need $8,000 brakes
Alfa Romeo outfits the Giulia Quadrifoglio well as a base model. You don’t pay extra for necessities, and most options are appearance related; my tester had $2,200 Trofeo White Tri-coat exterior paint. One exception is the brakes, though. My tester had the optional Brembo ultra-high-performance carbon-ceramic brakes. They work phenomenally well…but they’re also $8,000, which adds about 10 percent to the car’s purchase price.
The standard Giulia Quadrifoglio brakes are still high-performance Brembos. By all accounts, they’re excellent. Unless you plan to push the car to the limit on track frequently, sticking with the standard brakes is a way to keep the purchase price in the $80,000 range.