Every spring, the Texas Auto Writers Association puts on one of its two signature events, the Texas Auto Roundup (the Texas Truck Rodeo takes place in the fall). Manufacturers enter their coupes, sedans, crossovers, and minivans in the contest in hopes that their vehicles will not only get first place in their respective segments, but that they’ll earn at least one of the top prizes of the event: Car of Texas, CUV of Texas, Family Car of Texas, and Performance Car of Texas.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the most potent and focused version of the mid-size Giulia sedan, has topped the Performance Sedan category the past two years.
I first drove it during the 2017 roundup at the Circuit of The Americas, a 3.4-mile Formula 1 track near Austin, Texas. Insurance regulations didn’t allow me and my colleagues to drive full, uninterrupted laps so we had to take each of our test vehicles through several different evaluation stations, including a slalom, a brake test, and a straightaway. The QF was an eye-catching machine with lightning-fast steering response and enough power to push me back into its sculpted driver’s seat. I had no problem seeing why it won its class, but I had my concerns about how it would behave day in and day out in the real world of suburban roads and stop signs.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Exterior
I got the chance to find out in early July when Alfa Romeo sent me a 2018 Giulia Quadrifoglio to test out for a week. The 2019 model gets anodized brake calipers with red Alfa Romeo script on them, 40/20/40-split rear seats, and some new options, including the Nero Edizione and Exterior Carbon Fiber Appearance packages.
Aside from those updates, the ’18 model that I received was the same car. Just standing still in my driveway it was a stunning sight. I couldn’t take my eyes off of its exotic Misano Blue paint.
That didn’t disguise the QF’s purpose, though. Alfa built it to convert air and fuel into neck-straining forward motion and organ-shifting turns. The front end was dominated by mesh-covered air intakes to feed air to the beast under the vented carbon fiber hood. My press loaner had an exposed carbon fiber roof which not only coordinated with the side skirt trim and rear spoiler, but also lowered the QF’s center of gravity. Vented 14.2-inch front and 13.8-inch rear Brembo brake rotors and red calipers were easy to see through the thin spokes of the 19-inch wheels.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is only available with rear-wheel drive so Alfa Romeo made sure to give it a little extra grip back there. Its front wheels were 8.5 inches wide and wrapped in 245/35ZR19 rubber; the back end put power down through a pair of 10-inch-wide wheels and 285/30ZR19 tires.
Two pairs of diagonally arranged exhaust finishers pointed to the prominent rear diffuser. Many aftermarket companies offer a variety of cosmetic add-ons that make sport sedans appear more powerful and track-ready. Alfa Romeo nailed that look from the factory.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Interior
Once I got behind the wheel, it immediately became clear to me that the interior delivered on the promises of the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s racy bodywork. The leather and Alcantara driver’s seat was perfectly shaped to hold me in place without feeling like a vice. My thumbs fit right into the indentations just above the nine and three o’clock positions on the flat-bottom steering wheel. Alfa’s design team combined leather, Alcantara, metallic trim, and carbon fiber to make that simple tool into a piece of usable art. Snapping off shifts was quick and easy thanks to the massive aluminum shift paddles connected to the QF’s eight-speed automatic.
Instead of the Uconnect touchscreen infotainment interface found in other FCA vehicles, the Giulia Quadrifoglio used a BMW-like screen/rotary controller system with an 8.8-inch display for Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, and other functions.
Although the backseat area offered enough legroom for all 5’10” of me, I was more pleased by the fact that it had two HVAC vents. Those came in handy when my girlfriend, Eli, and I brought Graycie, an adorable foster cat, home from the Austin Animal Center.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Performance
My track experience in the QF led me to believe that its steering would be too quick and its brakes would be too grabby for real-world driving. After using the QF to run errands and go to restaurants in and around Austin, I learned that my assumption was almost completely wrong. Almost.
The QF has a “DNA Pro” selector which allows you to pick one of four driving modes: Dynamic for heightened engine, gearbox, steering, and braking response; Natural for a balance of performance and comfort; Advanced Efficiency for maximum fuel economy (I averaged 18.5 mpg over the course of 398 miles); and Race, which is exclusive to the QF model, for all-out speed and handling.
I left the dial on Natural most of the time I drove the QF. To my surprise, the steering had a nice weight and on-center feel to it. It reminded me of the steering in a Mercedes-AMG except it had a little more character. The brakes were progressive…to a point. As I pressed the left pedal, I could feel them gradually scrub off speed until right before bringing the car to a complete stop. That’s when the calipers would suddenly and completely clamp down. The brakes weren’t the smoothest operators, but they didn’t change my opinion that the QF could be used as a daily driver.
My plans to take the QF to a local track for some test laps were ruined by rain so I didn’t get to use the Race mode to its fullest potential. Luckily, the weather was clear on the morning I decided to test out the Dynamic setting on some rural roads. The QF’s Ferrari-derived twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 was even more potent than I remembered it being. Out at the Circuit of The Americas, its 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque enabled me to almost effortlessly hit 100…er…I mean 60 mph on a straightaway. On the warm and dry pavement outside of Austin proper, I had to be careful about how much and how quickly I applied heavy throttle because if I wasn’t, the engine’s power would overwhelm the rear tires and they’d break loose in a straight line. Once the road ahead got a little squiggly, I carefully combined that ample power with the QF’s accurate, communicative steering to slingshot through turns and leave a sonic trail of exhaust bark in my wake.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Safety
Some of the options Alfa put on my test car were largely cosmetic, such as the exposed carbon fiber roof, five-hole wheels, and that masterpiece of a steering wheel. The Driver Assist Dynamic Package added several important safety features, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, automatic high beams, and Lane Departure Warning. Those joined forces with the QF’s standard Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Forward Collision Warning, backup camera, and front and rear parking sensors to give me peace of mind in the suburbs and on back roads.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Overall
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a potent track machine. It looks the part and definitely plays it. But as I discovered in the 2018 version of it ($79,995 as tested), it also functions well outside of a race course. To experience the Giula Quadrifoglio’s blend of performance and livability, visit your closest AutoNation Alfa Romeo dealership and take one for a test drive. Prices for the 2019 model start at $74,245.*
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.