The Alfa Romeo Giulia was introduced in 2015, with big hopes for the italian brand. Supposed to be the big comeback of the brand after years of struggling sales, it introduced a brand new platform. It’s been since the launch that I wanted to drive their flagship model. The Quadrifoglio Verde or four-leaf clover, is paying tribute to the numerous early seventies sports and racing Alfa Romeos. Since 2016, the top-notch version has lost its Verde and only bares the Quadrifoglio name. Although, you don’t see much Giulia on the roads. Why? After driving the Maserati Ghibli S Q4 in 2014 (report here), which shares the same engine, it was finally time to see if the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio was up to what I had imagined. Text: Mickael B. © Photos: Thomas Z. ©

The Automobili Eleganza team would like to thank Alfa Romeo Switzerland for the press car loan.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde had beaten the Porsche Panamera Turbo on the Nordschleife!

Believe it or not, six years of wanting to drive a car makes up for very high expectations. I asked numerous times my local dealership for a demo car, but they never had one. Maybe they never believed I was a prospective buyer. Too bad for them, I bought a new Mercedes-Benz AMG A45S instead. For six years, my only impressions of the Giulia Quadrifoglio (Verde) were through other media reviews. Six years is a long time to build up expectations. A VERY long time. The Giulia was supposed to be Alfa Romeo’s savior, through its reintroduction in the US market. The Quadrifoglio Verde was the first non-German contender in the big 3 sports mid-size sedans BMW M3/M4, Audi RS4 and Mercedes C-Class AMG. Hell, Alfa had beaten the Porsche Panamera Turbo on the Nürburgring Nordschleife!

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The Giulia was updated in 2020 with new tail lights, touch-screen and level 2 driving assistances

All the journalists loved it. There were no negative reviews anywhere, apart maybe from Motortrend’s long term. Their Quadrifoglio Verde spent a staggering 60-plus days at the dealership in a whole year due to reliability issues. Alfa Romeo has then slightly updated – because I could not call it a full facelift – its Giulia in 2020. Finally offering level 2 driving assistances, new tail lights, a revised 8-speed automatic gearbox, it is sadly not possible to get the 6-speed manual anymore. Our 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio test-drive model was supposed to be originally a Red Competizione example. It came in the end with the Vesuvio Grey triple layer exterior color, over black leather and alcantara sports seats with red stitching.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

Carbon fiber bits and pieces such as roof, mirrors and V from the grille

Exterior options of our car included Quadrifoglio dark rims, red brake callipers, rear tinted windows, some carbon fiber bits and pieces such as roof, exterior mirrors, and V from the grille. On the inside, our test-drive Giulia Quadrifoglio included Driver Assistance Plus Package, Convenience Pack, 900 Watts Harman and Kardon audio system, carbon steering wheel inserts and heated rear seats. It came at a retail price close to 130’000 CHF. If you had to spec one, I would recommend adding the carbon lightweight bucket seats, carbon-ceramic brakes as well as Akrapovic exhausts to make this car as special as it deserves. Our car really lacked this specialness, not only due to its rather boring color scheme.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The Giulia design is too discrete, but at least there are unmistakable Quadrifoglio cues

The basic design of the Giulia is too discrete, too common. Too standard mid-size sedan-ish. Especially when you look at the old 156 or even the 159. If you were to remove the V-shaped front grille, this car could be any Hyundai, or Kia. The Maserati Ghibli has much more presence, mainly from the front. I wish the designers at Alfa Romeo had made a lighter, sharper Bertone inspired design from the old seventies Coupe and original Giulia. At least the plethora of visible carbon fiber elements from our test-drive car, the big 19 inch rims, rear-diffuser and quad exhaust unmistakably identified it as a Quadrifoglio.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

Tachometer reading up to 330 km/h, and a few four-leaf clover logos

Step inside, and just as the exterior, it doesn’t feel special enough as well. It’s not just about the fact that it is sharing most of its components with a standard Giulia. The general atmosphere inside isn’t great. Nowadays, we are used to so much better from the german manufacturers. The Giulia feels like it’s 10 years older than its competitors. Cheap plastics are everywhere, alcantara quality isn’t that great. Except from the tachometer reading up to 330 km/h and a few four-leaf clover logos, there’s not much telling that you are driving a flagship 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I wished it had a dedicated shifter (like BMW M Cars for instance), the bucket seats and better lighting inside.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

Press the red Start Engine button and… Be ready for disappointment

At least the steering wheel is the right size and the huge fixed flappy paddles always come in handy. The audio system is in line with the competition and there’s (finally!) a touch screen in the Giulia with good responsiveness so you can use it. Press the red Start Engine button on the left of the steering wheel and… Be ready for disappointment. There’s no loud start-up even when cold for the Ferrari-built 2.9 liter twin-turbo V6. Sad for a performance engine outputting 510 horsepower. Honestly, when I first started it, we almost thought it was a diesel. And you will have this impression until 3500 rpm in most settings.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The car’s sound profile is very similar to the Maserati Ghibli

You really need to have the exhaust valves opened to fully enjoy the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio V6 engine note. The car’s sound profile is very similar to the Maserati Ghibli. Logical, since it shares most of its components from engine and exhaust. Often when you’re flat out, you will only hear the turbos working. While if you accelerate slower, the car’s sound will be more mechanical, almost like a naturally aspirated engine. I would have liked it a little louder, and would love to see if the optional Akrapovic adds more volume, as well as some pops and bangs. These are absent except when the stock exhaust is really hot.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio achieved 7,5 litres per 100 kms (over 30 mpg)

The Giulia Quadrifoglio has four driving modes which can be changed through the selector on the center console, but cannot be configured. In addition to the three usual DNA modes for Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency the QV adds a Race mode. In A-Mode, we were pleasantly surprised with the car achieving 7,5 litres per 100 kms (over 30 miles per gallon) thanks to its cylinder deactivation while driving on the highway. The N mode brings compromise for your daily drive, while the D mode increases throttle, gearbox and steering response in addition to firming the suspension. Race mode increases all of it even more, setting the Torque Vectoring and ESP half-off to allow some sliding from this rear-wheel drive sedan.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

As it is only putting its power and torque on the rear tyres, don’t expect first gear to put it down

How do you expect a 510 horsepower, 600 Nm, rear-wheel drive, mid-size sedan to drive? Well, of course it’s fast. Very fast. Claimed performance figures are a 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 3.8 seconds even though this car has no launch control. Our test car was equipped with its winter tyres, so we could never confirm these figures. As it is only putting its power and torque on the rear tyres, don’t expect first gear to put it down, because it just won’t. You’ll either do some burnouts or the ESP will do its work and you will maybe get half of what you want. Throw in second gear though, your four passengers and yourself will be catapulted onwards. Top speed? Claimed over 300 km/h (186 mph). Plenty enough to end up in trouble or turning in ridicule some german sedans on the autobahn.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The masterpiece of the Quadrifoglio is not its Ferrari-built engine, as surprising as it might be

The masterpiece of the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is not its engine, as surprising as it might be. Don’t take me wrong, the engine is great, but it only revs up to 6500 rpm. With its light weight and easiness to climb up through the rpms, you’ll hit the limiter a countless number of times. At some point you will wish it had just 1000 more revs to go through. The gearbox is surprisingly reactive for a torque converter setup. It shifts smooth when you want too, while still offering a fast snappy change as soon as you hit one of the paddles. I’ve seen worse single and dual clutch setups (my AMG A45S, not to mention it).

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

You need to really hoon around the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio to really appreciate it, and feel something

The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s masterpiece is its glorious chassis. It is stiff, and offers a balance and a feeling which reminded me of old BMW M3s. Thanks to its light weight of 1524 kilograms, the car feels in perfect connection with the steering and suspension setting, positioning the car exactly where you want to. Its ability to deal with any kind of road you throw at it, keeping its structure as you slide the rear tyres around bends and corners is simply amazing. What is very sad though is that you need to really hoon around the QV to really appreciate it, and feel something. I really would prefer it if it would provide more feelings and emotions when just cruising around without having to be on the edge.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

Brakes had one major issue on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: they were not progressive at all

Although our test car had the standard steel brakes, they offered good performance for a mid-size sedan of this weight. They never overheated, but had one major issue, which was very annoying. They were not progressive at all. As soon as we would hit the pedal, the car would brake firmly but during most of the rest of the pedal length, nothing would happen. We had to hit it almost to the end to have more braking power. Maybe the carbon ceramic brakes offer more progressiveness and even higher braking performance, something which will be useful if you intend to bring the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio on a racetrack.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drifts everywhere you want

The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a fun car in general. It drifts everywhere you want, especially in second gear, as long as you are in Race mode. It is a car which makes want to drive it like an idiot, just to enjoy – and so does your neighbors – this V6 engine sound. Best part? It’s a 5 seater so you can have multiple friends with you to notice how ridiculously good it sounds. You can scare them around burning some rubber at any roundabout, or bend. You’ll even have them laughing at how easy it loses traction should you encounter a wet surface, some mud, or grass.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

It never gave me the envy of driving. And that’s depressing

Although it might be fast, fun, and with a great balance, there is one thing the Giulia Quadrifoglio failed. It never gave me the envy of driving. And that’s depressing. In over a week, never did I want to go for a joyride with it. This car should be able to put a smile on my face at whatever speed I’m driving. I should not have to drive it above 3500 rpm to hear the engine sound. I should not have to be on the car’s physical and my mental driving edge to be able to feel something. It should be a nicer place to sit in. It should feel more special, outside and inside. I have not driven much Alfa Romeos, but this is not the essence of the brand I expected.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

At this price level, the competition is tough

So would I buy one? At this price level, the competition is tough. You could get any of the three german big boys. The Audi RS4, which is only available in Estate will offer the benefit of four-wheel drive and an impeccable interior, but it will lack a lot in the fun factor. The BMW M3/M4 would be the closest competitor, but will be worse in the connection to the driver aspect compared to the Giulia. I would go for the AMG C 63 S, while the V8 lasts, which is not long. If you really want an italian car, and that Ferrari-built V6 engine convinced you, the Maserati Ghibli S Q4 might not be as fast, but it will feel all the more special which is missing in the Giulia. Plus, it will be four-wheel drive, which means you’ll really be able to use it under any circumstances.

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde

I cannot wait to see what is Alfa Romeo’s next attempt to get the mid-size sports sedan crown

Veni. Alfa Romeo came with the idea of a new car, to change the mid-size sports sedan game. To increase their sales volume and become one of the big players. Vedi. They saw what others were doing and knew the recipe for a successful sports car from their own history. Vici? Did they conquer the market? I think the figures speak for themselves. In 2017, in the United States, Alfa Romeo sold less than a thousand Giulia Quadrifoglio, while BMW was selling over 4000 F80 M3s there. The italian brand’s attempt at the mid-size sports sedan is actually good, but it’s just that the competition is benefitting from 35-plus years of producing such cars. It’s a good try to disrupt the market, and although it’s not yet on the same level, I cannot wait to see what is Alfa Romeo’s next attempt to get the mid-size sports sedan crown.

Check out our other test-drives here, and the gallery of the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio below.