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A Weekend Road Trip With the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

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author photo by Sam Keller July 2019

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a true enthusiast's car. Equipped with its own iteration of Ferrari's F154 engine -- seen in the 488, the California T and the GTC4Lusso -- the Giulia Quadrifoglio moves with purpose and is capable of outpacing nearly every mass-produced car on the road. Looking to experience this car firsthand, I borrowed a Giulia QV in a stunning shade of Misano Blue for a weekend road trip from Detroit to Chicago. While I've driven some fairly quick vehicles over the past few years such as the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray or the Dodge Durango SRT, I wanted to see what kind of flavors the Quadrifoglio brought to the table, whether it's as good as everyone says it is, or if it's just an impractical rocket engine shoehorned into an Italian sedan.

I'll get right to the point by saying that the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a very spicy meatball. Don't be fooled by its practical sedan guise, because the Ferrari-built 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged all-aluminum V6 is maniacal. After receiving the keys, I immediately popped the hood and realized that the bonnet was comprised entirely of weight-saving carbon fiber. Upon a slightly closer look, I noticed more and more carbon fiber, a ground-hugging but not-too-low body kit with a rear diffuser, and a quad exhaust that screams business. On a quick glance, one might be fooled by the relatively unassuming-yet-stylish bodywork of a BMW 3 Series competitor, but the Giulia Quadrifoglio is way more than that.

From the inside, the Alfa Romeo's sporting intentions are more apparent than suggested by its relatively unassuming exterior. The bright red push-to-start ignition on the carbon fiber-lined steering wheel comes straight from the Ferrari parts bin, with two giant aluminum paddle shifters that resemble blades from a futuristic battle axe. Sitting in the plush-yet-supportive bucket seats and glancing through the window at two gigantic centrally mounted side view mirrors, there's a nice blend of high design, luxury, comfort and serious sporting intent.

Firing up the ignition and listening to the deep rumble also clues you in to what the car has in store. With a faster-than-most idle speed around 1,200 RPMs that sends a noticeable quiver through the cabin, the Giulia does not like to sit still. For an engine of its magnitude, I find the start/stop feature bothersome. On small displacement engines, start/stop is almost unnoticeable -- but when the engine cuts off on the Quadrifoglio, I can't escape the feeling that something went wrong. Despite low-speed foibles, with the engine howling on the open road, there are few sonic experiences more rewarding in a production car than the Quadrifoglio.

With one day of pre-road trip vetting on my typical commute under my belt, I felt comfortable enough with the car to embark the following morning for the 5-hour drive to Chicago. With my girlfriend and close friend in tow, we set out early on a Saturday morning on the 280-mile traverse across I-94. Unlike my recent experience in a Corvette Stingray, which could easily be characterized as consistently serious performance driving, I was pleasantly surprised by the varied drive modes built into the Giulia. All-weather and Natural modes smoothly laid down the Giulia's endless power and torque without terrifying my passengers, while the Dynamic and Race modes elevated the Alfa's intense power and handling ability. I typically save race and sport modes for solo driving (unless requested to), as a spirited drive generally ends with a smile on my face and frowns for everyone else involved. The Dynamic and Race modes also help clarify why Alfa Romeo's logo consists of a fire-breathing serpent and a cross.

The night before my scheduled return to Detroit, I received a late-night phone call from my mother in New York City. There had been a health emergency in the family and she requested I leave immediately. It was 11:30 p.m., and I had a decision to make. Leave now and make the return trip in the wee hours of the night, or get some rest and leave early the next day. Faced with the urgency of the situation, I phoned the hotel valet and requested the car be brought out right away. I had 280 miles of road between Chicago and my 6 a.m. flight from Detroit to New York, and I had serious ground to cover over a trip that on average takes four and a half hours to complete. Needless to say, I was able to complete the trip in less time than that under a blanket of darkness on desolate highways.

While my daytime drive to Chicago was fairly uneventful, clogged with weekender traffic and little room to put the Giulia through its paces, the time and road conditions were vastly different this time around, and the Alfa Romeo rose to the occasion. It was the right tool for the job, remaining composed at sustained speeds that most cars would balk at. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a well-balanced sports car, a Ferrari disguised as a sedan -- and despite Car & Driver's well-documented reliability issues on their long term tester, I experienced no issues. The Alfa Romeo came through for me -- and perhaps I have luck from the 4-leaf clovers that adorn the car to thank.

This brings me to my final point: while the Alfa may look like a sedan, there's so much more under the skin of this serpent. Although it does provide daily practicality, a plush interior that comfortably seats four, and a deep trunk for groceries, I find that forcing the car to mingle amongst plebeian 4-banger people's cars gets boring quickly. Feed it open road, tear up the track on weekends, but I personally would not daily drive the Quadrifoglio. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is an incredible machine, too special to squander meaningless miles trying to fit in. They are a rarity on the roads, and will surely be highly collectible as time goes on. Find an Alfa Romeo Giulia for sale

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A Weekend Road Trip With the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - Autotrader