Chris Evans might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no doubting that he knows his cars! So when the former Top Gear hosts writes a detailed review of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in his Daily Mail column, we should certainly sit back and read with interest.
Here we go…
I realise that last Sunday I bullishly talked up the prospect of reviewing the new Ferrari GTC 4 Lusso this week. The thing is, in between times something quite momentous happened: I took delivery of another Italian stallion that has completely blown my mind.
In fact, more than that, it scrambled my brain, pickled my earliest memories, sliced and diced my emotions, pressure-washed my eyeballs and then plugged them all back in so I could see for myself a new world order of car supremacy. I am talking about the staggeringly impressive and stunningly beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
A car so perfectly formed in every dimension, curve and cubic centimetre, I’m at a loss, wondering where on Earth it has suddenly emerged from. I’ve also been reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari this week, the extraordinary tale of where we humans come from (East Africa), how long we’ve been around (2.5 million years!), where we are now (up the creek without a paddle) and where we’re likely to end up (hurtling towards oblivion any time soon).
the staggeringly impressive and stunningly beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia.
For well over the first half of the 20th century, Alfa Romeo couldn’t help but produce legend after legend, immortalising the Milanese logo into the gold standard for motoring. The most intelligent, artistic designs don’t leap out at you, they creep up on you. It’s the Quadrifoglio’s misleading profile that foxes everyone at first
Edge around the back for an enormous low-slung diffuser and quartet of Wurlitzer-like tailpipe cans
It’s fascinating, spellbinding and ultimately apocalyptic for us lot. Most other species, however, along with the planet itself, will go on to thrive, free of our human, meddling ways. But the point is, nothing comes from nowhere and brilliant one-off car designs are no exception.
There are continuations, evolutions, recreations and innovations, but most exciting of all is when a revelation seems to enter the car world’s atmosphere like a meteor from outer space, which is exactly what’s happened here.
For well over the first half of the 20th century, Alfa Romeo couldn’t help but produce legend after legend, immortalising the Milanese logo into the gold standard for high-performance motoring. (Pre-World War II: 6C, 8C – there were lots of them in different configurations. Post-World War II: 33 Stradale – swoon, Daytona – double-swoon, Duetto, SZ, 4C and 8C Competizione).
More recently, however, there have been far fewer. Well, now it seems they are back.
The most intelligent, artistic designs don’t leap out at you, they creep up on you. It’s the Quadrifoglio’s misleading profile that foxes everyone at first. Nothing special? Look again at the subtle muscular bulges and that cheeky carbon-fibre hem on the sill that suggests something more serious is going on.
They say by the time we are 50 we get the face we deserve – in which case, I’d like to be a wrinkle behind this beauty.
Climb inside and the dream continues. Zero bling/maximum cool suggested first by the carbon-backed bucket seats finished in leather, Alcantara and race tracks of white and green stitching. There are swathes of carbon fibre everywhere you look, including a streak that flashes across the dashboard before blending seamlessly into the infotainment screen and re-emerging again as part of the perfectly composed steering wheel.
Ignition then, via the red start enjoy-button, after which all the fun of the fair is available in the shape of eight gears, two huge (sensible) flappy paddles, four driving modes – each discernibly different from the next (hallelujah) – and an alchemy-soaked 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 engine pumping out 510hp.
All of which combines to produce a controlled frenzy of snarl, crackle and pip-pap-pop, with no turbo-lag whatsoever. I loved the noise, I loved all that power, but most of all I loved the way the car handles.
Don’t get me wrong, she will bite you where it hurts, especially in Race mode if you stick the boot in at the wrong moment, but keep a light touch on the wheel, take note of what’s happening beneath the seat of your pants and you will have a whale of a time.
The car can withstand the most extreme inputs with consummate ease and capability, it’s just a question of whether the human driving it has the talent to match.
Every second I spent in this weapon of mass distraction was like sitting in a very comfy, very fancy, very sexy slingshot ready to be pinged in any direction at a millisecond’s notice.
But far less self-consciously and conspicuously than, say, in a Ferrari or Lamborghini, or even a BMW M4 or a Mercedes-AMG C 63.
The Quadrifoglio is not so much a wolf in sheep’s clothing as a puma in haute couture, which is probably why no one could quite figure out what the heck it was.
Even those Sherlocks who bothered to look at the badge remained bamboozled with regard to everything else.
The car can withstand the most extreme inputs with consummate ease and capability, it’s just a question of whether the human driving it has the talent to match
‘Is it new?’ they repeated, one after another. Yes, it is new, overwhelmingly. It is new and it is brilliant and it is unique.
There is no other car in the world today with such understated sophistication, good looks and exhilarating performance. If this really is the make-or-break car Alfa has pinned its future on, then stand easy, everyone – mission accomplished.
In which case, what I want to know is, what the hell else have they got up their sleeve?
I absolutely loved this motor. I would happily drive it every day for the rest of my life. It already looks like a classic, which means it will only look more and more gorgeous as time goes on.
Alfa’s secret to this beguiling shape was not trying desperately to predict the future, while resisting the temptation to scurry back and hide in the shadows of the past.
If you’ve always fancied an Alfa but never been impressed enough by recent offerings, I would be amazed if you took a test drive in one of these and didn’t go on to buy one. In fact, I would be incredulous. I might even recommend you be sectioned until you come to your senses.
I honestly thought I was over the high-performance car-ownership stage of my life, but this Super Giulia has made me seriously reconsider. It is without doubt the most enjoyable road-legal sports car I have ever driven, including all the big-boy supercars.
The reason is simple: everything flows. The power is monstrous but the engine not a brute. The acceleration is formidable but the chassis inspires the confidence required to enjoy it. The brakes could stop an express train, yet you never feel the need to stamp on them just to make sure.
And like all great driving cars, it is never a case of you and it – more a mutual understanding of respect and admiration between two zealous parties.
Like a slightly nutty dog who always wants to go for a walk constantly licking its owner in case “it’s time”.
The word on the street is that we Homo sapiens may only be around for another thousand years or so, if we’re lucky. With that in mind, should our collective day of reckoning come upon us sooner rather than later, we could do a lot worse than jump in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, select Race and set the sat-nav for Beachy Head.
Tash, the kids and I will meet you there.
You can find out about booking a test drive of the Giulia here.