T3 Drives: we go 170 mph on a runway in the Alfa Romeo Giulia

I’m sat at the end of a runway in the Alfa Romeo’s new sporty saloon, foot pressed hard against the brake pedal. It’s a windy day. So windy in fact the planned lunch inside a Boeing 727 was cancelled, just in case it blew it away, taking a load of motoring journalists with it.

Immediately in front of me is a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine, capable of outputting 503bhp and 443lb ft torque. That’s enough to get you from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, and onto a top speed to 190 mph. It’s been ‘heavily inspired’ by sister-brand Ferrari’s modern engines, and it sounds glorious.

I’m anxiously waiting for the pro-driver beside me to tell me it’s safe to go, at which point I’ll floor the accelerator and get to see what those numbers actually feel like.

Alfa has made a glorious return to front engined, rear wheel drive cars, and we’re lucky enough to be testing the range topping Quadrifoglio model here in the UK.

How did we get on? Read on to find out…

The Giulia is curvaceous and flowing, making it instantly standout from it’s more Germanic rivals. The Quadrifoglio trim adds an aggressive rear diffuser and four exhaust pipes. We think it looks great. It’s smaller and lighter than its main rivals as well, mainly thanks to generous lashings of aluminium and carbon fibre in the wings, doors, bonnet and roof.

Climb inside (and you do have to climb, as the doors are awkward, especially if you’re tall), and you’ll be enveloped by leather, alcantara, and carbon fibre. It’s a great place to be, you sit low in the vehicle, and the sports seats are supportive. There’s even impressive leg room in the rear seats too.

We’re impressed with the other parts of the interior as well, although, perhaps obviously, you don’t get the same build quality that you get from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. The infotainment system is the only let down here. The screen is small, and the UI looks dated. On the positive side, the menu systems are clear, it’s simply to use, and functionality is fine. It just lacks polish.

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Top Speed: 190.8 mph
0-62: 3.9 seconds
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol
Gearbox: 8-speed Automatic
Power: 502 bhp
Torque: 600Nm
Fuel Consumption: 34 mpg combined
Carbon Emissions: 189g/km
Weight: 1,524 kg

A walkie talkie in the car bursts into life. The car in front of us is safely off the runway. Now it’s our turn.

I plant my foot on the accelerator. The V6 fires up with a purposeful growl. The DNA drive mode selector is in D (which stands for dynamic). This increases the exhaust volume, sharpens the throttle, and holds the gears for longer. The engine is glorious. 

I accelerate up to around 170mph, I didn’t dare take my eyes off the tarmac to check the exact numbers. The long grass and airport buildings fly past in a blur as I focus on keeping the car straight.

It’s then time to stop. The pro-driver beside me yells at me to break, and, just like an emergency stop on a driving test, I slam my foot on the brake pedal. The hazard lights come on as a safety precaution and the car comes to an abrupt(ish) halt.

Okay, so Alfa have nailed the engine, but what about the rest of the car? Does it handle like a yacht?

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No, it most certainly doesn’t. It’s nothing short of sensational. For a start it seems perfectly setup for British roads, it’s not overly firm, nor is it wallowy or soft. It was very comfortable on the B-roads we took it on, yet still eager.

It’s balanced, too, with even weight distribution, quick steering, suspension, and grippy tyres which can exploit all of the power heading to the rear wheels.

Verdict

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the coolest car in its segment. It’s stylish, evocative, and oozes passion. Of course, it has performance to match the way it looks as well. The only thing that lets it down is the infotainment system, which lacks polish, but we think we can excuse Alfa for this minor blemish, all things considered.

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