The Alfa Romeo Gulietta Quadrifoglio Verde is a controversial car for many car enthusiasts: it’s a well made car born in a very peculiar moment for one of the World’s most loved Automakers.
During our test, many people argued whether the Giulietta is not a real Alfa Romeo: front wheel drive doesn’t fit an Alfa Romeo. Wrong. The last Alfa Romeo project before Fiat took over was…the 164. As a matter of fact, Alfa Romeo was developing a new front wheel drive transmission in the 1980’ies for their premium four door saloon. Although developed on the T4 platform shared with the Saab 90, the Lancia Thema and Fiat Croma, and being the first car presented after the acquisition of Alfa by Fiat the 164’s front wheel drive system is all Alfa Romeo. It was a technically well developed car with efficient aerodynamics and great handling.
Historically, front wheel drive Alfa Romeos are not a product of compromise but of technical finesse. Remember the Alfasud? Unfortunately, due to cost reduction strategies during the past 20 years, Alfa Romeos and Lancias shared many components to the humbler siblings from Fiat making them look like a cheap product for many enthusiast. But are all front wheel drive Alfa Romeos lame to drive? Not at all. 156’s, GTV’s, 166’s: all quite capable cars, that were not considered by potential customers because mainstream media said that they did not represented Alfa Romeo.
A lot have changed since Alfa acquisition from Fiat. There have been dark times and some great yet unloved cars but now it’s time to bring back more faith into this remarkable company.
The Giulietta QV, for example is not the bad car many want you to believe. It is, in fact, well made. Whether we may argue for days regarding its identity as an Alfa or as a Fiat, we believe it is a car worth considering buying. The first reason is the engine: the 1750 cc turbo is an astonishing piece of machinery. It’s a tractable yet ferocious piece of kit: although very gasoline-thirsty for being a compact 4 cylinder, it’s a true performer. It’s very tractable and progressive in the power delivery when you cruise around town and remarkably ferocious when you want to give it the berries.
Normally it’s up to me to describe how a car drives but instead I decided to let a former Alfa Romeo test driver Giorgio Langella, who has a career at Alfa Romeo of more than 40 years. He has worked and test drove every Alfa Romeo from the 1900 and the Giulietta to the 164. He’s the person that knows a thing or two about Alfa. What could he say about “our” beloved Giulietta? To find an answer we went with him on a test drive around Milan. Being both true enthusiast of Alfa Romeo we didn’t spent too much talking about the same Alfa/Fiat arguments. Mr.Langella test drove the car as any car he has driven: this gentleman is his job. He is part of Alfa Romeo history and more importantly he lives the present. You would expect a man who spent all his life working on old Alfa Romeos would be shocked to sit inside a modern Giulietta. The reality was quite different: he loved it. If you don’t believe him, just go and ask him. He’s not ashamed to tell the truth: it is a well made car indeed.
His first reactions were “Is this one? Gosh it looks terrific!” He looked at the car with a smile while he was finishing his sigarette. ” I’ll give you my personal opinions. I do not want to teach you a lesson: I’ll be honest”. Still exhaling the smoke draught from the last puff he jumped on the car and eagerly invited us to go with him. I couldn’t have asked for more: we love to see the masters at work and he gave us a proper lesson on how to review a car.
As we were cruising along, he started making comments on the driving position and the noise “the seating position is perfectly balanced, you can feel what the car is doing. I wished the seats were a bit more supportive but they’re comfortable overall. Always remember: you drive a car with your butt and with your thumbs. They’re very sensitive parts of your body and will help you figure out what the car is doing. Also the engineers have done a brilliant job in containing the fastidious noise resonation inside the cabin. You can still savor the beautiful sound of the engine without risking falling asleep while driving.” Hearing this from him is could be a revelation for some. He also praised the engine, which in his words is “a true jewel”. He wasn’t afraid to call the Giulietta an “Alfa Romeo” nor to hide away his smile.
It may not be the sportiest car on the market today, yet it has charisma and attracts people attention and gets to their imagination. Its red bodywork, gorgeous matte grey wheels and the iconic Quadrifoglio Verde still have something to say to everyone, loud and clear.
While it is not the most technologically advanced car you can buy, the Giulietta it’s the performance car you’d love to use every day. The tractability of this engine is wonderful: it’s progressive in the power delivery when cruising and ferocious when accelerating hard. It has plenty of torque and it’s a delight to use on the road.
With this one we had to do hatchback stuff: rallying! We wen in the woods, pretending to be in a proper rally stage. We ended up testing in Piedmont, on the curvy Col de Lys, adequately large with great visibility. We were sad enough not to have attended the Monte Carlo rally so we came up with our own race, with a car full of expensive optic equipment and warm beverages. With winter tires fitted and a childish desire to emulate Latvala, we had nothing to fear: we had comfortable heated seats, so we laid back and enjoyed our event After doing the Col de Lys 4 times and brining a lot of gasoline in the process we decided to rest for a while and admire the sunset on top of the road. The car was glowing like a ruby and it was a terrific sight. It was a rewarding experience for all the driving we had done in the past hours.
Handling wise, the Giulietta is able to keep a high pace. It is not as precise as we wished it to be yet it has its own character: when entering the corners, the tail of the car swings out helping the car settle into the corner. It is perfectly controllable and it can be killed by keeping the foot down. As the saying goes ” when in doubt, flat out” works quite well with a front wheel drive car. We happen to like this theory. Since we had the Alfa badge up front, we had the right car at our hands.
As much as we love Alfa Romeos from the past, we gave two thumbs up to our Giulietta ignoring all the controversy around this glorious Auto Maker. After all, driving a car is like making music: you only need to listen to your heart speaking.