ROAD TEST: Alfa's best Guilia is annoyingly magnificent
JUST look at it. Alfa Romeo has undergone a Lazarus-like resurrection with the Guilia.
Especially with the range-topping Quadrifoglio, which has you shouting "oh God” for all the right reasons.
Just mention the brand Alfa Romeo and it conjures romantic images of slicing through mountainous terrain and flexing their motor sport heritage with road-going cars which stir the senses. But in recent times they've been, well, crap.
Using Fiat-based offerings with underwhelming performance, Alfa Romeo is getting back on track with a renewed focus on sporting luxury. The new Stelvio SUV is also about to arrive to add fuel to the fire.
Alfa was never highly regarded for longevity and reliability...it was somewhat of a joy to reach your destination without a mechanical failure.
But there was something about the marque which generates love and admiration. The Guilia Quadrifoglio starts from about $155,000 drive-away, but it has all the original hallmarks expected of the Italian badge.
Looking the part is vital in this genre. Trumping the German rivals with good looks courtesy of forged alloy wheels with disc brakes which rival the circumference of Bert Newton's head, red brake calipers, quad exhaust and a carbon fibre bonnet with nostril holes for sucking in the air to keep the raging beast within cool.
Things look equally classy inside, with one of the best feeling sports steering wheels you'll find, along with leather and Alcantara trimmed bucket seats that have eight-way electronic adjustment, 8.8-inch colour screen with satnav and a pumping Harman/Kardon sound system, full bluetooth connectivity and bi-xenon headlamps with automatic high-beam function.
Currently Alfa is dangling the carrot with an offer of free scheduled servicing for three years with intervals annual or every 15,000km. An extended warranty is also free, up from three years/150,000km to five years/200,000km for those buying before June 30.
It also wears Alfa's famed Quadrifoglio four-leaf clover - which dates back to 1923 when Ugo Sivocci painted the symbol on his race car for good luck (like pilots used to do on the fuselage of their planes). Originally a green clover on a white diamond with each point representing the four Alfa Romeo factory drivers, it became a triangle after Sivocci was tragically killed.
ON THE ROAD
Out-bloody-standing. With a Ferrari-derived twin turbo V6 under the bonnet it's not shy when you unleash the beast.
Insanely quick off the mark, the official sprint time from standstill to 100km/h is less than four seconds. We're not going to argue.
Not only can it sprint, but also turn. In fact, it hunts the bends without fear. The 19-inch rubber latches onto the bitumen as you saw in alternating directions...it just takes a couple of stabs at the brakes to warm things up, and they feel soft until getting some heat into the discs.
The better half loved it from the outset, although things went backwards quicker than the Giulia Quadrifoglio in full flight.
A complicated aircon system regularly cutting out, stereo and other controls hidden when using the centre console cup holders, and door pockets which were almost useless. Plus it has a tendency to lurch into drive and reverse from standstill. Not only that, the lane keep assist sounds ridiculous, more like flatulence than warning.
The wife declared "I hate the functionality” despite the driving experience.
She was right (not the first time). But she was also wrong (don't mention the war).
That's part of the Alfa Romeo DNA. It frustrates you and and annoys, yet it then injects immense enjoyment with a flick of the drive modes, sporty pops from the exhaust and an unbridled boost from the V6 quickly generates a grin to rival Luna Park.
It gains five stars with front and rear parking sensors, eight airbags, rear camera, lane departure warning, radar cruise control, blind spot warning with rear cross-path detection and automatic emergency braking.
You look good in this, and the steering wheel feel is one of the best in the business. Just make sure to step on the brakes hard at slow speed.
This has an ability to quicken the pulse, whether it's in a straight line, in the bends or just getting the sound system pumping.
BMW M3 Competition $146,900
The perfect accomplice for the hardcore enthusiasts and weekend warriors. Can be a handful, and best left to the experienced.
Mercedes-AMG C63S $157,211
Scares and delights. It possesses all the attributes which keep you safe, but doesn't feel intrusive. Not quite as alluring as the Alfa.
AT A GLANCE
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
DETAILS: Four-door, four-seat, rear-wheel drive sedan.
PERFORMANCE: 0-100kmh in 3.9 seconds; top speed 307kmh.
BOTTOM LINE PLUS ON-ROADS: $143,900.
WARRANTY: Five years/200,000km. Free servicing is available for three years. Servicing intervals are annual or every 15,000km. Only on cars bought before June 30.
ENGINE: 2.9-litre V6 twin turbo, 375kW/600Nm (just plain wonderful)
SAFETY: 5 stars, 8 airbags, AEB, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert (what it needs)
THIRST: 8.2L/100km (reasonable)
SPARE: None; inflation kit (not alone)
LUGGAGE: 480L (good; no split-fold)