NEW ALFA ROMEO GIULIAS ARE STUNNERS

Alfa_Romeo_Giulia_frontAlfa Romeo has a long history in sports and racing cars, but has been relatively quiet in recent years. All that has changed with the next generation Giulia which is about to hit the road in Australia.

Giulia is built on a brand-new rear-drive platform and is aimed fair and square at the big name Germans. The BMW 3 and 4 Series and the Mercedes C-Class are its targets. The very tasty icing on the Italian cake is the high-performance $143,900 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, with the BMW M division and Mercedes-AMG models very much in its sights.

In recent years car companies have made lap times at the Nurburgring into a de facto ‘official’ test. In the production sedan section the Giulia Quadrifoglio demolished the old record with a lap time of just 7 minutes and 32 seconds. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that a sub-8 minute run was pretty special, Alfa Romeo has just ripped almost half a minute out of that.

The Quadrifoglio can run zero to 100 km/h times of just 3.9 seconds.

The secret? A 2.9-litre, twin-turbo, V6 all-alloy engine developed in close co-operation with Ferrari. It produces 500 horsepower and 600 Newton metres and works in front of a fast shifting eight-speed ZF automatic, sending power in the right direction – the the rear wheels. (500 hp is 375 kW in Australian money.)

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Weight has been stripped out of the Giulia Quadrifoglio by building much of its body in aluminium and carbon fibre.The latter is used in the bonnet, roof, front splitter, rear spoiler, side skirts and driveshaft.

Incidentally, all Giulias have carbon fibre driveshafts.

Giulia Quadrifoglio rides on lightweight 19-inch forged alloys sitting inside Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres developed specifically for the car. Carbon fibre side skirts are integrated into the body surface.

Our initial testing of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio was done at Sydney Motorsport Park (nee Eastern Creek raceway).

What a stunner this machine is. In the interests of not demolishing the Quadrifoglios we journos were asked not to engage Race mode, instead going for Dynamic. That mode lets you hang things out a fair bit, but intervenes to make you feel you’re a better driver than you really are. Not good for the ego, but permitting hard cornering and near-the-limit grip at speeds you really shouldn’t attempt on public roads.

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The beautifully balanced Italian sports sedan is a joy to drive hard and fast. The electronic dampers let all four wheels act in conjunction with one another over tiny undulations and irregularities on the surface. It really does feed information back to the driver through the steering and seat of the pants and corrective action can be taken virtually instinctively.

Race disables all the electronic aids and leaves it up to the driver to stay out of trouble. Hot laps piloted by Australian racer Alex Davison and Alfa Romeo and Maserati factory test driver Armando Bracco showed us the Quadrifoglio can be slid sideways in tyre-smoking fun and, in saner mode, make extremely quick times around this tricky circuit.

Gearchanges are lighting fast and can be left in automatic or controlled by large paddle shifters.

At this stage we haven’t done any tests of this Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio on normal roads, that will be carried out later. As will road tests on at least one other Giulia model.

While the $143,900 Quadrifoglio sits at the pinnacle of the all-new Alfa Romeo Giulia tower, the rest of the range is pretty impressive as well.

The lowest cost $59,895 Giulia has leather upholstery, alloy wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlamps, keyless go, dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, automatic wipers, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. It’s powered by a four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine producing 147 kW and 330 Nm and again has the eight-speed automatic transmission.

Next comes the $64,195 Giulia Super with the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol (147 kW / 330 Nm), or $,65,895 with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel (132 /450). Over the standard car’s features it has Pieno Fiore leather seats, eight-way powered seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped dash, leather-wrapped upper door and armrest, walnut or oak veneer, chromed door sill insert, an ambient lighting package, and active cruise control with stop and go function.

The $71,895 Alfa Giulia Veloce runs the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol in a higher state of tune, with 206 kW and 400 Nm. Features over the Sport are a body kit, rear bumper with diffuser and dual exhaust tips, 19-inch five-hole dark alloy wheels, upgraded brakes with red painted calipers, gloss black window surrounds, privacy glass, bi-xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting System and automatic high-beam control.

Inside the Veloce are sports leather seats that are six-way adjustable, with power bolsters, a sports steering wheel, aluminium faced pedals, alluvium trim details, and an 10-speaker 400-Watt audio with a subwoofer.

The 50:50 weight distribution and excellent handing are backed up on all Giulia models by the latest active safety systems; Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) with pedestrian recognition, Integrated Brake System (IBS), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).

The Giulia range has received a five-star Euro NCAP rating and was commended for achieving the highest ever adult occupant protection score. It has eight airbags.

Alfa Romeo is chasing what it says is its renaissance with this new rear-drive platform. If this first model is anything to go by it’s hard to see it being anything other than a big success. By the way Alfa Romeo will add an SUV called Stelio on a variant of the same platform as the Giulia.

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