When you think of a supercar, the exotic styling, incredible noise and performance will no doubt be the first things that come to mind. What really makes a supercar though is irrationality, impracticality, and irreverence.
Considering those parameters, the 2022 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is as close to a supercar as a mid-size sedan can get – not to mention the genuine pedigree it has under its long carbon-fibre bonnet.
It all ultimately comes down to the Alfa X-factor that the best models to wear the best logo in the industry all have. Let’s face it, German luxury saloons are for those who want something that’s good but inoffensive.
Alfas are for those who love driving above all else; real-world rationality and logic be damned. While you can have a more rational Veloce model from $72,950 before on-road costs, the Quadrifoglio jumps to more than double that at $148,749 plus on-roads.
That doesn’t even include the more attractive wheels or paint you see here. Still, it puts it on the right side of the base BMW M3. Next to the controversial Bimmer and the new Mercedes-AMG C 63, the Giulia Quadrifoglio is still the best-looking of the bunch.
The Alfa Romeo styling department having hit a home run here. It might have been in production since 2015, but it’s ageing like a fine wine. It’s the distinct aggressiveness of this Quadrifoglio model that really sets the Alfa Romeo Giulia apart, though.
Its wider side skirts, boot lip spoiler, and chunky diffuser all made from carbon fibre really set this design off wonderfully. It’s a rare example these days of automotive art. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Giulia’s cabin.
It’s here its age is on full display. Its bucket seats and steering wheel may be trimmed in leather and Alcantara, but the cabin’s plastics feel cheap, the side air vents feel utterly flimsy, and much of the switchgear doesn’t even try to hide its Fiat Chrysler origins.
On the topic of flimsy, the boot hinges feel about as sturdy as an injured knee and struggle to keep the boot lid upright, while the headlights and taillights were regularly fogged inside with late-winter condensation as well.
While we can happily forgive it for still using mechanical dials with a small screen between them, as they do look brilliant, even the updated 8.8-inch infotainment system still has its moments.
On start-up especially, it’s noticeably laggy, and the bezel around it is far too large. It does at least offer smartphone mirroring and a decent if less-than-premium TomTom sat nav system. The Harman Kardon audio system it’s tied to sounds great as well.
None of that is why you buy an Alfa Romeo, though. You don’t buy an Alfa for the finest interior materials or build quality, nor for it offering any semblance of the latest tech. No, you buy an Alfa to drive. You buy it because it stirs the soul.
Just look at what Alfa has got right in this interior – the seats are supportive, the wheel is ideally sized, the driving position is spot-on, and the big column-mounted paddles are just like those in a Ferrari.
You can even pull on them to put the car in gear without ever touching the shifter, just like you would in many exotics. But without question, the most important thing in here is the bright red starter button mounted right on the steering wheel.
Pressing it will put an instantaneous grin right across your face, as all memory of the questionable built quality and mixed-bag materials fades to nothing.
That’s because this starter button is connected to an utterly glorious 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that delivers 375kW and 600Nm.
If you’ve heard people say before that this car has a Ferrari engine, technically they aren’t lying. Key design elements of this ‘690T’ engine are shared with Ferrari’s ‘F154’ V8 found in everything from the California to the 488 and even the SF90.
Of course, there are a lot of changes here, most obviously the fact this has two fewer cylinders. It also uses single-scroll turbochargers rather than twin-scroll, features port fuel injection in addition to direct injection, and has cylinder deactivation for fuel efficiency.
So, aside from a number of incredibly noteworthy and extensive changes, one must suppose the claim is fair. Technicalities aside, this engine is a masterpiece. Immediately, it feels special when you start to drive it.
The sound it makes between 3000-5000rpm evokes hints of Ferrari despite being a V6. But then the power kicks in, and wow, is all we can say. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is dispatched from 0-100km/h in a mere 3.9 seconds. It’ll rocket on to a top speed of 307km/h.
Those might not sound like true supercar numbers now, but even in the noughties, a sedan like this would’ve been relatively inconceivable. Fortunately, Alfa has opted to fit the Giulia with an eight-speed ZF automatic, which is a welcome bit of rationality.
With its eight perfectly-spaced ratios, the power it delivers feels never-ending. No matter what gear you’re in, there’s more than enough power there, although it’s when you blip between third and fourth where you feel you can really unleash its full potential.
Don’t think it’s just fast in a straight line, either. Forget not that this was at one point the fastest four-door car around the Nürburgring, so it’s in the corners where it truly shines. Thanks to the sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber, there’s super glue grip too.
That means you don’t need to feel afraid to push it hard in the bends. Its adaptive suspension automatically firms up when you flick its ‘DNA’ drive mode selector to Dynamic, and you instantly feel how unbelievably flat and composed it is.
The steering, however, is the biggest takeaway. It’s about the most engaging tiller you’ll find out there, with absolutely no dead spot on centre. The second you turn the steering wheel, you feel those front wheels obeying your every command. It’s pure magic.
In every way, this feels a super sedan. From the exotic looks and engine, to the truly sensational handling, and yes, all the way down to its utter irrationality from every logical standpoint.
For this much money, every part of your head tells you to buy an equivalent fast BMW, Mercedes or Audi. Why would you not? They’ll all be better made, better equipped, and far more practical on a daily basis.
I’ll tell you why. It’s because the Alfa speaks to a primal urge that is inside all of us. It’s something that transcends logic. Forget the Germans that you buy with your head – your heart is what tells you to buy the Alfa.
This article originally appeared on drivesection.com and has been republished with permission. Photography by Marcus Cardone. Test vehicle provided by FCA Australia. To find out more, contact your local Alfa Romeo dealer.