What Car? says...
Few car makers have a performance motif as evocative as Alfa’s four-leaf clover. The Italian manufacturer puts it on only its most potent models, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio more than earns its right to wear it.
You see, while it's based on the regular Alfa Romeo Giulia executive saloon, the Quadrifoglio – aka the Giulia QV – is fitted with a 503bhp turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine.
That means it’s capable of 0-62mph in just 3.9sec and a downright crazy top speed of 190mph. What's more, the Giulia Quadrifoglio gets bespoke suspension, quicker steering and larger brakes in an effort to make sure it corner and stops as well as it goes.
Oh, and did we mention that it was developed with the help of Roberto Fedeli, whose CV includes such exotica as the Ferrari 599, F12 and 458 Speciale? As Ferrari’s former chief engineer, he ought to know a thing or two about setting up a sporty machine.
So, does the Giulia Quadrifoglio (Italian for four-leaf clover, in case you were wondering) have what it takes to beat those rivals? That's what we'll be answering over the next few pages of this review, as we look in detail at everything from its performance and handling to its interior quality, practicality and running costs.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
First and foremost, an expensive performance car has to be great to drive, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio absolutely ticks this box. Its 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine is one of the reasons why, delivering razor-sharp accelerator responses with hardly any lag, despite being heavily turbocharged.
At our private test track, we clocked 0-60mph in 3.7sec. That’s quicker than the 4S version of the Porsche Taycan managed and just 0.1 seconds behind the BMW M4 (which is essentially a two-door version of the BMW M3).
The Giulia Quadrifoglio's eight-speed automatic gearbox dithers a little at town speeds, but it transforms once you start to press on, providing finger-click-fast manual changes via the tactile aluminium paddles that are mounted to the steering column.
The responses of the engine and gearbox get more relaxed in the Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency modes, so the car definitely feels at its best in Race mode (although, disappointingly, that automatically switches off the stability control).
The car sounds best in Race, too, barking loudly as the revs rise and crackling violently when you change up through the gears. Its soundtrack is far more charismatic than the bassy but flat engine note of the six-cylinder M3.
By contrast, the M3 and the Audi RS4 have the advantage when it comes to braking. While the Quadrifoglio stops well enough (the optional ceramic brakes provide monumental retardation from high speed), they feel a tad vague when you first press the pedal.
There’s nothing wrong with the way the car handles, though. It feels light, poised and nimble when you turn in to a bend, and the quick steering is alert but never nervous.
At the same time, the adaptive suspension can be made softer or stiffer to suit the bumpiness of the road independently of the drive mode selected, and its firmest setting all but eliminates body roll during quick cornering. If you want to chase lap times, an M3 is grippier and even faster through high-speed bends, but that doesn't make it more fun.
Alfa Romeo has fitted the Giulia Quadrifoglio with a clever differential on its rear axle that helps prevent power being wasted through wheelspin. But, of course, if you want to break traction at the rear and steer using the accelerator, that’s possible too.
Then there’s the ride. If you think a performance car will be too firm, think again. You can feel the Quadrifoglio's big tyres following road imperfections, but the adaptive suspension system that helps it stand bolt upright in corners can – at the press of a button – be made supple enough to take the sting out of potholes and cushion you from rough sections of road.
In fact, the only thing to blot its copybook as a cruiser is a bit of wind and road noise at motorway speeds – the RS4 is better in this regard.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s standard-fit electrically adjustable driver’s seat is set low and allows you to adopt a sporty, hunkered-down position. What's more, it's complemented by a highly adjustable steering wheel, which has a pleasingly slim rim and is placed nicely in line with the pedals and seat.
It's also worth noting that for a hefty premium, Alfa Romeo will fit carbon-fibre framed sports seats, which are brilliantly supportive. They're worth the extra if you can find it, because otherwise the interior looks a little too similar to that of the significantly cheaper Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce.
A facelift in 2020 did enhance the Quadrifoglio's interior in other areas, adding extra carbon-fibre trim, a higher-quality flat-bottomed steering wheel, a matching leather-wrapped gear selector and an Italian flag motif at the base of the gear shifter. However, the air-con controls are still a little flimsy, and the drive mode selector feels quite cheap. The Audi RS4 and BMW M3 are both classier inside, let alone the Porsche Taycan.
On the other hand, there's no faulting how easy the Quadrifoglio controls are to use. Plus, the infotainment system is far less distracting than the ones in the RS4 and Taycan because, in addition to an 8.8in touchscreen, you get a BMW iDrive-like rotary controller located on the centre console.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring are included as standard, and we like the 'Performance Pages’ feature, which shows turbo pressure, power output, a track timer and the temperatures of the main mechanical components in real time (useful if you take your car on a track).
That said, the system is not perfect – the display is a bit dim and muddy, it’s not graphically rich and it’s slower to respond to inputs than the M3's.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Quadrifoglio is just like a standard Alfa Romeo Giulia when it comes to space and practicality. That means it's not the easiest of saloons to climb into, with a fairly low roofline and low-set seats, but once you’re in, it caters fairly well for four adult occupants.
The front sports seats are quite wide, and elbow and shoulder room are good. There are plenty of cubbyholes to stow your odds and ends, including a sizeable space under the centre armrest, plus a pair of cup-holders in front of the gear selector.
In the back, too, there’s a reasonable amount of leg room – fractionally more than in the BMW M3 – and there’s room for feet under the front seats. Head room is merely okay, so if you frequently carry six-footers, you might want to consider the Audi RS4 Avant (although it's nowhere near as exciting to drive).
We were able to fit six carry-on suitcases into the Giulia QV’s boot, whereas the RS4 and M3 will take seven cases each with room to spare.
Handily, though, Alfa Romeo gives you a 40/20/40 split folding rear seat as standard, with release levers in the boot. You’ll need to give the seats a bit of a shove to fold them down, but it’s still less of a faff than walking around to the rear doors to reach the catch.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio costs more than the Audi RS4 Avant but is a good chunk of cash less than the BMW M3 while offering a comparable amount of standard equipment. As a result, there’s no need to go crazy on the options list: 19in alloy wheels, xenon headlights and cruise control are all included.
Expect high servicing costs and frightening fuel economy, though. The Quadrifoglio averaged just 23.5mpg in our real-world True MPG tests, and in our experience, the RS4 is more fuel efficient.
Looking further down the line, it's expected to depreciate at a similar rate to the M3, which helps keep PCP finance rates competitive. Keep an eye out for deposit contributions, which can make the monthly payments a touch lower than the M3s.
As for safety, automatic emergency braking technology (AEB) with pedestrian detection is fitted as standard, along with blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system and rear cross-path detection to alert you to approaching cars when reversing.
In addition, Euro NCAP awarded the standard Alfa Romeo Giulia a full five-star safety rating, and a closer inspection of the scores shows that it outperformed the Audi A4 in the adult occupant protection test, although there were a few issues noted that weakened the child occupant protection.
We don’t have reliability data for the QV specifically, but the regular Giulia performed poorly in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey coming 25th out of 26 executive cars included. Alfa Romeo as a brand finished 29th out of 32 manufacturers featured.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
No, the engine in the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a V6, but it's turbocharged, which helps it produce more than 500bhp. See Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio performance & drive.
The engine in the Giulia Quadrifoglio is derived from Ferrari’s F154 unit, which is found in models such as the F8 and SF90. However, in the Quadrifoglio it has two less cylinders. The same engine is used in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio can officially accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.9sec, while at our test track we managed 0-60mph in just 3.7sec. Top speed is 190mph, so it's by far the quickest variant of the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio features an 8.8in touchscreen, but the best thing about its infotainment system is that you can also operate it via a rotary dial that's far less distracting on the move.