2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio RWD: That's amore?
Price: $77,195 as tested. ($72,000 for the trim level; options include $600 for black paint, $400 for carbon-fiber steering wheel, and $500 for special wheels. More options noted throughout.)
Marketer's pitch: "Proof that love is worth the wait."
Conventional wisdom: A friend asked, "Where would I even buy an Alfa Romeo?" Now there's an uphill battle for sales.
Reality: If love means spending a bunch of money on long odds but having a lot of fun doing it, then, yeah, this is love.
Flashy: I'm generally not drawn to flash. I'd rather have a sedate-looking sedan, a hatchback, or even a station wagon. It's what the vehicle can do that sets it apart.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio I tested looked about as flashy as a four-door sedan can get. The pointed grille, the blackout wheels, the stitched seats all shouted, "We're going for a ride!"
Serene: But when I first hopped in, I was surprised how sedate this Alfa was. I left it in normal mode, and the car was smoother than a Barry White love song — so smooth, it was a little off-putting.
What it is: The run-of-the-mill Giulia checks in at about half the price of the race-ready Quadrifoglio. The four-door sedan aims to bring Alfa's La meccanica delle emozioni (the mechanics of emotion) to a four-door sedan. In the Quadrifoglio, 505 horses stand at the ready from the 2.9-liter biturbo V-6 underneath the hood.
Up to speed: Or, should I say, up to speeding. The Quadrifoglio can get Mr. Driver's Seat noticed by the police radar before he even thinks about it. Three digits come in a hurry. (Unlike in the 4C Spyder, I managed not to get pulled over this time.) A more sedate 0 to 60 takes 3.8 seconds, according to Alfa Romeo.
On the road: Handling in the Giulia was crisp and precise. Being driven by the rear wheels means having to add a little more to the steering wheel than I'm used to.
Also, the really low-profile 35-series tires act strangely in tight corners. The car will kind of slip a little forward when pushed to the limit, and also when turning around in a narrow driveway.
The ride in race mode is severely compromised. The car hits road seams hard, and resting your head against the headrest (a weird concept, I know) leaves you with a head-banging feeling.
Inside: The Alfa Romeo's interior really has a flair all its own and looks nothing like other FiatChrysler products. Only the small type for information, like outside temperature and cruise control, match FiatChrysler's usual stuff.
Hold her steady: The Quadrifoglio can be jumpy in stop-and-go traffic, and the auto start-stop sometimes restarts with a bit of a lurch. Keep a firm hold on the brake pedal.
Driver's Seat: The front seats provide superb support and great hold. Though they were adjustable eight ways, I wished for adjustable wings. I also wished for all leather, rather than leather and alcantara, as nothing holds the animal fur like black velvety cloth (and that's just the souvenir fur from my clothes and backpack).
Friends and stuff: On our initial voyage, we stuffed Sturgis Kids 1.0 and 4.0 and 1.0's significant other into the rear seat. The middle seat is more useless than usual, and 1.0's foot was good and stuck off to the side of the large hump for a while. (Fortunately, this was only a short jaunt across the township.)
Headroom and foot room are actually pretty good.
Play some tunes: The infotainment center has a beautiful 8.8-inch screen that really blends into the dashboard around it. The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat found it was a little too small — and way too small in split-screen mode — but, as in other areas of my life, I may let sheer beauty make up for other minor shortcomings.
A large dial and a pair of buttons on the console offer a BMW-esque approach to operating the stereo, but getting from place to place seemed a little more cumbersome.
Sound quality from the Harman Kardon stereo ($900) was excellent.
In other aural news, the exhaust note is nice, but only comes on for shifts, which is disappointing. In race mode, leaving the gear low can help a little.
Night shift: The LED headlights are bright and clear. The interior lighting was really mood lighting, and could be hard to see by, even when all the lights were lit. I consider this a nice problem to have.
Fuel economy: I averaged about 22 mpg in an all-out assault on Pennsylvania's roads. Feed the Quadrifoglio premium.
Where it's built: Cassino, Italy
How it's built: I predicted Consumer Reports would predict the Giulia's reliability to be abysmal, and I was right. Still, there are no hard data there.
In the end: If you have $75,000 to blow on an Alfa, you'd better have plenty of other cars for the other days. And you probably do. But Alfa day will sure be a whole lot of fun, even if you're just driving it in for servicing.