2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio New Dad Review: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing Is a Solid Family Car
Blistering power is good for dad's speed habit, but this compact sedan will do double duty as a stylish family hauler.
I finally did it: I'm a dad. The funny thing is, I've always owned dad cars, even before I needed to. Owning anything with less than four doors never made much sense, which is how I ended up with a stable of souped-up grandpa cars from the Sixties and Seventies. Now that I'm a father, the '74 Oldsmobile sedan I brought my wife and son home from the hospital in seems a bit dated. And that, my friends, is how I found myself on this quest to find the perfect new dad car.
2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: By the Numbers
- Price as Tested: $85,995
- Powertrain: 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 | 505 horsepower, 443 lb.-ft. torque | 8-speed automatic transmission | rear-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city | 24 mpg highway
- 0-60 time: 3.8 seconds (Manufacturer data)
- Random fact: The Quadrifoglio's 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 is derived from Ferrari's twin-turbo F154 V8 engine.
I'm used to driving slow cars. Sure, I get my hands on a fast one from time to time, but the scary fast ones are usually someone else's job. So when I hopped behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, put it in full race mode, then went into a corner pretty fast, I wasn't necessarily prepared for what happened when I "gave it a little throttle." Remember that scene from Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, when Jim Carey's character 180s his beater Monte Carlo into a parallel parking spot? Yeah, I did that, and learned my damned lesson – leave the nanny controls on, ya baby!
Fortunately, the baby (the small one, not me) wasn't in the car, and even more fortunately, my wife wasn't in the car while the baby was there, too. The car didn't kill me, but the wife would have. Brushing so close with the awesome power of this car brought to mind something a friend of mine had once said about his experiences with heroin back in the bad-old '80s – "It's bigger than me." That pretty well encapsulated what this car and its bestial power meant to little ol' me. Thanks to Ferrari's engine design team, I had been outed for the rube I am by a mere sedan.
That's not to say the Giulia wouldn't be a fantastic car for a dad to have. It's just too gorgeous not to be.
2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Interior & Cargo
The interior is only available in black, although there are a few optional accent colors, depending upon the exterior color. So it's a bit dark in there. The pope's shoes-red leather interior package mitigates this condition somewhat, but also means you can't spring for the fetching misano blue that would be so sure to make you stand out in the school parking lot. White dash and door accents are available with that exterior color, but we all know what happens to white in the presence of children. As so many laundry detergent commercials have informed us, nothing remains white for long when our grubby-pawed descendants are around.
Neither the back seat nor the trunk are huge in the Giulia, but that's not really the point of this car. At 12 cubic feet, the Giulia's trunk is just adequate (unless my mother-in-law sends us home with stuff), and with tall passengers up front, the rear seat can be a tight squeeze for people with actual legs. But there is plenty of room for a child safety seat back there, and the trunk will accommodate a stroller, some groceries and all manner of other kid-related stuff (so long as its strong enough to withstand the thrashing it will endure during the repeated hard cornering you won't be able to help yourself from doing). Make sure your child isn't the seasick type before you take off, though. You know how difficult it can be to get milk vomit stains out of black upholstery.
2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Driving & Fuel Economy
Surprisingly, the Quadrifoglio's 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 has kind of a rough idle. Or maybe there was just something wrong with the one I had (not out of the realm of possibilities considering some of the commentary I've read online about the reliability issues that appear to be par for the course in these cars, but more likely because of the 90-degree spread of the cylinder banks). But then you mash the gas pedal to the floor and the stop worrying about all that. The howl and rasp it belts out as you're pressed back into your seat is otherworldly. The car handles turns nimbly, but after that first demonstration of what too much throttle could do (there is, after all, the tiniest bit of lag), I left all the nanny controls engaged. Best to keep this monster chained down, if somewhat loosely.
The Quadrifoglio set two track records at the Nürburgring over the past few years, and still boasts one of the fastest times ever logged by a four-door sedan. Its easy to see why. Even though it's a modestly-sized family car-looking thingie, the Quadrifoglio handles tight turns like a go kart, and with that beastly twin-turbo V6 under its hood, can rocket out of corners like few other cars can. It's also got those pie plate Brembo brakes to bring it to a stop quickly – a necessity when lap times need shaving (and you need to reduce your speeding tickets from reckless endangerment charges to slap-on-the-wrist fines). Not surprisingly, the brakes on our test car came pre-cooked, with a slight shudder – the handiwork of whatever enthusiastic drivers had run the car through its paces before me.
One of the most endearing things about this car is that it doesn't necessarily look like anything that would give anyone trouble at a stoplight or on the track. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing, and only those in the know will realize what they're looking at. My insider wink came from a guy who had just parked his newish Ferrari. "Lemme hear it! Open it up!" he called out. I obliged. He was impressed.
2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Safety
The Giulia got top ratings in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS also gave it the highest rating available for crash mitigation technology, although due to a lower rating in LATCH anchor ease-of-use, the Giulia didn't make the cut for Top Safety Pick. The federal government has not yet rated the Giulia for crashworthiness.
Despite the glowing review from IIHS – which is very thorough in its methodology – I have to wonder how the Giulia would fare if it were crash tested at the speeds it's capable of. I don't think we have to answer that. No one really wants to know.
The Long and Short of the Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Giulia is about as Italian as a car can get these days without being a Ferrari. It's beautiful, it's fast and it's imperfect in a way that is likely to make you fall in love with it. Like a hearty ragù enjoyed with a glass of Nero d'Avola beneath the shade of a vine-draped pergola somewhere on the coast of Sicily, the Quadrifoglio is all about bold visceral appeal. It saturates your senses with so much pleasure that you almost forget to ask what, if anything, are the downsides of your gratification. Almost.
No doubt, it's a lot of car for $85,000. But as much as I loved the lightning-fast acceleration and 190 mph top speed (I never reached speeds anywhere close to that fast, I promise), I had to ask myself what the hell would I ever be able to use it for, other than to lose my driver's license in a hurry. We're looking at this car from the perspective of a family man, after all, and the family man's best option is to slow down and drive carefully. The Giulia Quadrifoglio makes that nearly impossible for anyone who's addicted to driving fast. As I touched upon earlier, this thing is the speed freak's heroin – you can't say no to it.
Two cents from Ben's spouse: I really wish you wouldn't drive so fast. Your son needs his father.