2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review
Price & Specs9
Interior & Practicality8.5
Performance & Economy9.5
Ride & Handling10
Running Costs & Warranty6.5
What we like:
  • A sublime performance car that's also civilised
  • Excellent drivetrain and bi-modal exhaust
  • The typically emotional Alfa Romeo design
What we don't like:
  • Some missing equipment such as LED headlights
  • Centre screen quality could be better
  • A big jump in price from the lesser Veloce
8.7DiscoverAuto Rating

Alfa Romeo is a brand has been around for 110 years and in that time they have developed a cult-like following among those who appreciate and love everything automotive. It is known for its beautiful Italian curves and leather filled cabins and an Alfa Romeo to a petrolhead is like ecstasy to an addict. We tested the Alfa Romeo of all Alfa Romeos: the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio to see what the hype is all about.

Rivalling the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63 S and the Audi RS5 Sportback, the Giulia offers practical motoring to those who want to go [much] faster than the average sedan. For the 2021 model year, the Giulia range had a very light facelift that added a touchscreen infotainment system, different interior trims and some light exterior upgrades to keep it up to date against newer rivals. So how does the Alfa stack up with its more serious German rivals? Let’s find out.

Price & Specs: 9/10

The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia range now consists of five models: the $63,950 plus on-road costs entry-level Giulia Sport, the $71,450 Giulia Veloce, the Quadrifoglio we tested at $138,950 plus on-road costs and above it, the very limited Giulia GTA and GTAm, which cost an astronomical $268,000 and $288,000 respectively.

The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, a carbon fibre bonnet, carbon fibre exterior and interior trim pieces, automatic bi-xenon headlights with LED tailights, a bi-modal exhaust, electric dampers, drive mode selection, an 8.8-inch touch screen infotainment screen with Tom Tom satellite navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, a 14-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, wireless smart phone charging, leather and alcantara power-operated front seats with electric lumbar adjustment, driver’s seat memory functionality, heated front and rear seats with a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, heated and auto-folding exterior mirrors and keyless entry and push button start as standard.

Safety features include six airbags, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors with a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionity, lane keep assist with tracing, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, driver fatigue detection, auto high beam, anti-glare mirrors, speed sign recognition and tyre pressure monitoring.

There are a few options available on the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: $1,000 yellow or black painted brake callipers, $1,300 alternate wheel options, $13,500 carbon ceramic brakes and $8,250 Sparco carbon fibre sports seats.

‘Alfa Red’ is the only no-cost colour option for the Giulia Quadrifoglio, fitting as it’s an iconic colour for the brand which has adorned Alfas since the 1920s. Other colours that are available are ‘Vulcano Black’, ‘Missano Blue’, and ‘Vessuvio Grey’, which cost a further $1,850. There are also a few other paint colours that are known as ‘tri-coat’ colours: ‘Verde Montreal’, ‘Trofeo White’ and our test car’s ‘Competizione Red’ for an extra $3,650.

Despite its high pricing, there are a few features we think the Alfa should have as standard. Being a high-end car in 2021 and not featuring LED headlights (let alone Matrix or laser headlights) is poor, as is the lack of a heads-up display and live traffic updates for the navigation system. And the optional sunroof on the Giulia Veloce? Not available on the Quadrifoglio. We’d also love to see the optional Akrapovic exhaust and exposed carbon fibre roof from the UK-spec car made available locally.

The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia has a few rivals that challenge its standard equipment and price; first of which is the new 2021 BMW M3, which is priced from $144,471 plus on-road costs. That’s $5,521 more expensive than the Giulia, though to get an automatic gearbox, you’ll need the $154,471 BMW M3 Competition (which is a $15,521 difference). The M3 gains a 360-degree surround view camera, rear AEB, automatic parking, Laser LED headlights, heated exterior mirrors, a power bootlid, two extra speakers for a total of 16, a larger 10.25-inch centre screen and a digital driver’s display. We think all of this extra equipment is worth the extra money for the standard M3 – though not the M3 Competition.

Other competitors to the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio include the $168,176 Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan and the $150,777 Audi RS5 Sportback. As a value perspective, the Alfa stacks up well when compared to its German rivals. It offers a large amount of standard equipment for the least amount of money – the M3 has more features than the Giulia, but it is also a huge $15,521 more when you take into consideration the automatic gearbox.

Performance & Economy: 9.5/10

The soul to any Alfa Romeo is its engine – it beats like a heart and connects the driver with the car in an emotional way. Thankfully for the petrolhead, the engine powering the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio encapsulates this perfectly.

Unlike the Giulia Sport and Veloce, which have a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio comes with a 2.9-litre twin turbocharged V6 that was designed by Ferrari technicians especially for the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio range. The engine produces 375kW of power at 6,500rpm and 600Nm of torque at 2,500-5,000rpm. It features two single-scroll turbochargers that help propel the Giulia Quadrifoglio from 0-100km/h in a claimed 3.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 307km/h.

In comparison, the BMW M3 has the same 375kW but with 50Nm more torque at 650Nm, though its 0-100km/h claim is same 3.9 seconds as the Alfa. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S may have two extra cylinders over the Alfa, but it has the same 375kW of power as the M3 and the Giulia. It does have 700Nm of torque (100Nm more than the Giulia) but a slower 0-100km/h time of 4.0 seconds thanks to its extra weight. Audi’s RS5 Sportback has a lower power figure of 331kW, but the same 600Nm of torque figure – it also completes the benchmark sprint in the same 3.9 seconds.

The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s sole transmission option in Australia is an eight-speed torque converter automatic which sends power through the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. There is none of the jerking or jolting that is typical in dual-clutch transmissions in the Giulia – it is a rather smooth gearbox when cruising but when you put the hammer down it is sharp and precise. If it’s not quick enough, you can use the fabulous steering wheel paddles.

There are four different drive modes in the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio thanks to Alfa’s ‘DNA’ system – it offers dynamic, normal (which the car starts in) and all-weather modes. These driving modes alter the car’s character much more than similar systems in a lot of other cars with noticeable changes between the modes. Normal is the most relaxing mode, while all-weather mode blunts the throttle and keeps the gearbox in the highest gear possible for greater traction. Dynamic mode sharpens the throttle response, loosens the traction control, puts the dampers in a ‘mid’ setting and tells the active exhaust to open up over 4,500rpm. Holding the drive select wheel up while in dynamic mode for three seconds puts the Giulia into Race mode, which turns the stability control off, puts the dampers in their hardest setting, opens up the exhaust system completely and quickens the shift times.

Driving the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a truly enchanting experience. The way it feels behind the wheel is like no other car on the market. The best way to describe it is that it has dual personalities, on one hand it can be comfortable and quiet when driving around the suburbs or down the freeway but on the other hand flicking it into Dynamic or Race mode livens the car up, making it feel light and fun. The engine sounds fantastic when the exhaust valves are open and it accelerates so fast that the speedo can barely keep up.

Thanks to cylinder deactivation technology and a start-stop system, the claimed average fuel consumption for the Giulia Quadrifoglio is 8.2L/100km. In our time spent with the Giulia with mostly urban driving, we saw well above 12L/100km. We did see a figure of 8.5L/100km on a short highway run, however, so it can be relatively efficient in normal driving.

Ride & Handling: 10/10

Built on Alfa Romeo’s ‘Giorgio’ platform like the Stelvio SUV, the Giulia handles and rides very, very well. The platform was made to get Alfa back to having more fun to drive cars like Alfas of past and not like the Fiat-platformed cars of the brand’s recent history. The company even brought in the head engineer of the Ferrari 458 – one of the best supercars of all time – and the results are spectacular. the Quadrifoglio is agile, nimble and athletic – yet also quite civilised when you want it to be.

The adaptive dampers do a fantastic job of changing the feel of the Giulia. In all weather and normal modes, the suspension is comfortable but still communicative – but switching the car into dynamic mode puts the suspension in ‘mid’ mode which makes it a little more engaging. Handily for those with bad backs, a press of the ‘suspension button’ in the drive mode selector leaves the car in Dynamic mode but puts the suspension back into its softer setting, which means you can enjoy dynamic mode on terrible roads. Race mode engages the suspension’s hardest setting, which makes the Giulia feel hunkered down and like a serious racer – though beware, it turns the ESP off.

The handling ability of the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio exceeds the expectations set by recent Alfa products by a long shot. Being a rear-wheel drive car with a hugely powerful turbo V6 engine, you would think there would loads of oversteer but this isn’t the case at all – yes, it’s capable of it, but the Giulia is actually quite a lot more sophisticated than that. Cornering hard is met with a lot of grip, which is likely due to the wide wheels that are 245/35 at the front and 285/30 at the rear wrapped in standard Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres. In Dynamic mode the Giulia handles as well as cars twice or even three times its price – even ones with the same Italian heritage, if you catch our drift.

The steering on the Giulia is fabulous as well – it’s rapid and communicative in a way that the blunt Audi RS5 is not. It helps the Quadrifoglio’s light on its feet feeling and its overall agility. Another part we love is that it’s – on average – 145kg lighter than rivals, which adds to the light feeling behind the wheel. Road noise suppression and visibility in the Giulia are above average as well, ensuring that its touring ability is excellent.

Interior & Practicality: 8.5/10

Italian cars famously have beautifully crafted interiors. Alfa Romeo has long been at the forefront of this and the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is no exception. The interior is full of soft-touch materials and the design looks and feels special, though not as tech-filled as its rivals. The driving position also makes you feel like you’re behind the wheel of a sports car and not a sedan as you are set nice and low in the cabin.

The 8.8-inch infotainment screen in the Giulia is integrated into the dash seamlessly and while the bezel is quite large, the screen isn’t as big as you may think. The system itself is easy to use – it mimics BMW’s iDrive system with a control wheel (but it’s also controllable by touch) but doesn’t feel as sophisticated or up to date thanks to the lacklustre graphics and screen quality. The satellite navigation system is good, but it is easier to connect your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use your phone’s maps. Connectivity is great as there is a USB-A input in the dash as well as an additional one in the centre box with a USB-C port, wireless charger and an auxiliary port as well.

The standard sound system on offer in the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a 14-speaker Harmon Kardon unit. The sound quality is good, though not as good as other sound systems in the segment such as Audi’s wonderful 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system in the RS5. The special touches in the Alfa, such as the gorgeous paddle shifters, do make it feel more special inside though.

The cabin of the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a surprisingly comfortable place to spend time. There is plenty of room, unlike Alfa Romeos of past and the quality is a large step up from what we are used to with this Italian brand. The dash and most of the cabin is covered in either leather or soft touch materials and the interior storage is refreshingly good. There is a large cooled glovebox, a cubby for the key fob next to the gear selector, a large centre console, big cup holders and large door bins – the American influence on Alfa thanks to its ownership is obvious here.

Sitting in the rear of the Giulia is a good experience, though it’s not as roomy as the BMW M3. The seats are supportive and there are also rear air vents, a fold down centre armrest with cup holders, rear heated seats and two USB-A charging ports. The one gripe we have with the rear seat area in the Giulia is that the transmission tunnel is way too intrusive into the cabin, which makes sitting a fifth person in the middle quite difficult. Head- and kneeroom are also not brilliant.

Being a practical sports sedan means that the Giulia Quadrifoglio needs to have a usable boot – which it does, with a sizeable 480-litres of space on offer. In comparison, the BMW M3 also has the same 480L of space in the back but the Mercedes-AMG C63 S only has 435-litres. The Giulia also has a boot net, 40:20:40-split rear seats and even the battery in the boot – though no spare wheel.

Service & Warranty: 6.5/10

As with all other new Alfa Romeos, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio comes with the brand’s three-year/150,000km warranty, which is lacking in the segment. Both Audi and BMW offer three-year/unlimited kilometre warranties and Mercedes-Benz offers an additional two years. The Alfa Romeo, BMW and Audi all come with three years of roadside assist but the Mercedes-Benz comes out on top with five years of roadside assistance.

Servicing is required on the Giulia every 12 months or 15,000km, the same intervals as the Audi and BMW – the Mercedes-AMG C63 S only needs servicing every 12-months or 20,000km, though. The cost of servicing the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio over five years/75,000km is a huge $5,245 ( $1,049 per service on average). BMW does not quote service costs for the M3 but Audi does a five/year/75,000km service pack for $3,240, which is $2,005 less than the Alfa Romeo.

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.7/10

Alfa Romeo is a very special brand with more of an emotional connection to its owners than a lot of other bands and this is seen most of all in the Giulia Quadrifoglio. In typical Italian fashion, the Giulia pulls at your heart strings more than than other premium German sedans thanks to its lusty styling, sublime handling balance, amazing turbocharged V6 engine and a level of character that most new cars fail to match. Better yet, it’s a sports sedan with a Ferrari-derived V6 engine. What’s not to like?

But unlike many other Alfa Romeos of the past, the Giulia is not massively flawed either. Sure, it’s not the roomiest car, it’s very expensive to service and nor does it offer the forefront in technology, but its all-round ability is excellent. Buying an Alfa Romeo is typically more of a heart purchase than a head purchase as most people lust after a beautiful Italian sports sedan but should you listen to your head as well and buy one? In our opinion, definitely. No other sports sedan makes you feel as alive behind the wheel, and none make you feel as connected to the driving experience either. It’s clear that the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a true Alfa Romeo – but with some sensibility and comfort thrown in for good measure as well.

One Response

  1. Stuart Solomon

    A thorough and very informative review of this versatile Ferrari powered Italian weapon.
    Especially liked the comprehensive explanation of the various driving modes & the comparative performance numbers with the other “big three”,very helpful in drilling down to the vital stats.
    Great to see Alfa carving itself up a serious slice of the super car cake!.


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