The gestation of the Alfa Romeo Giulia has been as complicated as the plot line of an Italian telenovela, with its development (or seeming lack thereof) occurring in parallel with Alfa’s ambition to return to the United States. It has been a decade since then Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne first promised to bring the Italian brand back here, with Fiat’s merger with Chrysler in 2009 offering an obvious shortcut to making it happen. The original plan was for the Giulia to use the same corporate Compact Wide platform as the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200; fortunately, this was nixed, and Alfa instead developed a new rear-wheel-drive platform mostly by itself. The production Giulia made its debut in mid-2015, and the car finally will reach the U.S. late this year as a 2017 model.
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But before that happens, the journalists must have their turn, and we’ve just driven several Giulias at a launch event held both on and near FCA’s vast test track at Balocco in Italy. While most of the powertrains we drove had no relevance to the U.S.—a 2.1-liter turbo-diesel, for example—the Quadrifoglio and its 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 and BMW M3–beating 505 horsepower are of definite import to Americans. (Non-Quadrifoglio U.S.-spec Giulias will be powered by a 276-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but none were on hand at the event.)
The official line is that the Quadrifoglio engine is “inspired by Ferrari technology and technical skills.” Essentially, it’s a six-cylinder sister to the Ferrari F154 twin-turbo V-8s that power the Scuderia’s 488GTB and California T and a cousin to the engine that powers the Maserati Quattroporte GTS. In the Alfa, peak power occurs at 6500 rpm, while the limiter is set to 7250 rpm. The V-6 drives the Quadrifoglio’s rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a torque-vectoring rear differential. Only the manual will be available at launch in the U.S.; the eight-speed will come later.
Caveats: Alfa would only let us try the Quadrifoglio on Balocco’s handling course, with the straights broken up by temporary chicanes to make sure we couldn’t try to validate the claimed 190-mph top speed. Our time in the car also was limited because more than 50 journalists were waiting to drive one of just four Quadrifoglios on hand, meaning the lines were like those you might find waiting for the best ride at an amusement park. Fortunately, our elbows are the sharpest in the business, so we got to experience both manual and automatic versions of the Quadrifoglio. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Manufacturer