The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio's Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V6 produces 505 horsepower, sending it all to the rear axle via ZF's excellent eight-speed automatic. In America, it's the only gearbox available in the Giulia. However, in Europe, ZF's strongest six-speed manual, the S6-53 is a no cost option. That's an admirable gesture from FCA towards European enthusiasts, especially in the light of the stick shifts' often depressing sales figures.
If you start asking around, even motoring celebrities such as Top Gear's Chris Harris will tell you that the automatic is the better choice in this case, and knowing how good that ZF eight-speed works, I won't argue with that. But to see whether Alfa Romeo could build a worthy successor to its last proper four-door, the 1987 Milano/75 3.0 V6, I had to use my left foot.
I'm not trying to hide the fact that the manual gearbox Alfa has picked isn't the last word in precision, nor in feel. What it offers instead is the impression of being a beefy piece of metal designed to handle peak torque without any problem once you push the V6 into overboost mode. Which you will.
Curiously enough, ZF rates it for "up to 443 lb.-ft.", which is exactly how much the Giulia QV (Quadrifoglio Verde) packs between 2500 and 5500 rpm. Either way, hard on the gas, it's a confidence-inspiring partner in crime, and that's all you need.
It takes a while to realize what Alfa Romeo has accomplished with its first new mainstream model. The Giulia may look like pure sex on the outside, but once you step inside the cabin, you better not expect German-levels of luxury and "connectivity." It doesn't need to, because the Giulia QV is the purest performance sedan money can buy, evidence that most of Fiat-Chrysler's money went into making it lighter and faster instead of pointless premium features.
You have a thin but ergonomic steering wheel connected to a very quick rack, also featuring a big red button that may as well have "Ferrari V6 time" written on it. You also get two beautifully finished carbon fiber sports seats from Sparco. Additionally, there's a dial above the stick that I would recommend keeping in either Dynamic or Race at all times, and a lone, almost comical USB port in the middle of the center console. The touch surfaces are mostly wrapped in leather with red stitching in true Italian fashion, but that's as far as the weight tolerance went at Alfa's new factory. Otherwise, what would be the point of all that costly carbon fiber?
There's no hidden menu you need to dig out every time you want to get loud. With the dial in Dynamic, the valves open in the exhaust and you get sharper response from the twin-turbo V6. Press the suspension button, and surface imperfections will have a more direct effect on your spine. The usual stuff.
Then, once you're done with cruising, turn it up to Race. No other adjustments are needed. Traction control is now completely off, the 2.9's turbos spool up for action and once you turn the wheel in a second-gear corner, Alfa's tail-happy magic will start to shine through.
Alfa Romeo might have only left North America in 1995, but despite keeping the flame somewhat alive in Europe, it's not like you've missed a whole lot in the last two decades.
Known as the Milano in the US, the 1987 Alfa Romeo 75 3.0 QV is widely considered to be the last true Alfa not necessarily because everything after that was based on Fiat's technology, but because it had all the features that put Alfa Romeo on top of the leaderboard.
Namely, a transaxle five-speed gearbox and inboard disc brakes, a limited-slip differential, a two-piece driveshaft to minimize vibration, and a 190 horsepower Alfa V6. Not to mention that the four-cylinder variant featured a twin-spark head and mechanical variable valve-timing, something Alfa Romeo introduced seven years before Nissan came up with its electronic version.
The 75 QV was a perfectly balanced sports sedan, and thirty years on, the geniuses at Fiat-Chrysler managed to created yet another one. It's still hard to believe.
Built on a new platform with the poshest engine on the market, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio delivers a driving experience only a true engineers' car can. Drifting through the corners with elegance instead of theatrical tire smoke, its massive Brembo brakes urge you to push further and enjoy what Alfas of the past were all about.
In Race mode, the QV feels sharp, light and a whole lot smaller on the road, with the naked underside of its carbon fiber hood serving as a constant reminder that this car does for all the right reasons. It's got the engine, the chassis and the brakes to show any German competitor what second place feels like.
No compromises, no excess, just precision on the edge of grip, balanced by you through a refreshingly thin steering wheel that you just won't want to let go. Ever.
Be it with a stick or a superior automatic, Alfa has done the job. Now, all they need is some love for the SUV that killed the Giulia Sportwagon. That way they can keep making a sports sedan that makes you forget the letter M and the number 3.