Some brands sneakily launch fast cars on racetracks.
There, smooth tarmac doesn’t ruffle stiff suspension setups. A screaming engine drowns out road noise. And high-spec tyres aren’t challenged by elements.
So while we’ve belted the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV on circuits twice, overseas and locally, we approached its first road launch with curious minds. We’ve previously raved about it, but would the Oxley Highway expose Alfa Romeo’s new hero as a flop?
Initial thoughts aren’t too promising. As it’s obvious the Giulia’s not going to lure buyers away from Germany luxury brands with its cabin.
It’s nicely set out. There’s a sweeping dash, cleanly designed centre stack, and ergonomically placed controls and accessories. The digital screens, too, are well sized.
But it feels built to a lower price point than BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz’s mid-size sedans. Plastic surfaces, dials, and buttons don’t provide the same tactility or finished with the same detail.
There’s only a smattering of leather, alcantara, and carbon fibre (if optioned) and although it wears the highest Euro NCAP rating, thanks to a suite of safety assist tech and an ‘excellent’ crash structure, you receive tree-trunk sized A-pillars in return.
Have patience, however, because the Giulia’s office is to be used. And a big hint to this is its great driving position. The wheel’s rake and seat height accommodate both the small and tall.
But the biggest clue about this car’s performance sits midnight on the DNA’s drive mode dial. Beyond the Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency modes, there’s a QV-only ‘Race’.
It’s linked to an angry twin-turbo V6, an eight-speed auto, three-mode adaptive dampers, and an electronically-controlled hydraulic locking rear diff.
Developed by ex-Ferrari gurus, the V6 offers 375kW and 600Nm. Stretch its legs and suddenly the ZF transmission’s eight gears seem four too many.
Even at 2.9 litres, it proves a tractable little bugger, pulling along sixth gear at 100km/h with 2500rpm on board, while seventh and eighth seem more suitable for the Autobahn.
On the other hand, the first two gears are super short (first is geared 5:1), and torque’s limited in lower gears to aid traction.
So first gear disappears in a blink and second doesn’t deliver full punch. Alfa Romeo reckons 0 to 100km/h in 3.9-seconds, but it’ll take some skill.
There’s no launch control, so you have to stall the eight-speed and be careful blending in the throttle to avoid wheelspin.
We don’t doubt the QV will storm on to an active-aero assisted 307km/h. Its 600Nm finally unleashes in third gear as trees blur and triple-digit speeds build at a rapid rate.
The engine’s exclusively mated to an auto, which is fine by us. It injects drama into the experience. It’s not dual-clutch quick, and doesn’t smoothly slip into first gear during low-speed deceleration, but it endearingly slaps you on the back during Race Mode's full-throttle upshifts.
Noise-wise it's a bit love hate. From the outside the car belts out a throaty roar like someone’s lopped two cylinders off a Maserati GranTurismo’s V8. But there's more engine than exhaust noise from the inside.
While the engine is the centre-point of this car, the QV’s standout is its sparkling chassis. There’s no rear-steering or active roll bar tech, but the truth is the Giulia QV doesn’t need them. Partly thanks to its steering rack.
At two turns lock-to-lock it’s quickly geared, and a bit too rapid for town roundabouts. But when things twist and turn its 11.8:1 ratio makes perfect sense, forcing the nose to lock on to apexes like a homing missile.
Such sharp reflexes are matched by a balance pure as an E46 M3’s, while Pirelli P Zero Corsas, at 285mm/245mm wide, easily handle the engine’s linear rush of power.
The car’s 19-inch rims suffer on Australia’s ruffled tarmac, picking up bigger ruts and edges. And the front pair can nab at road camber changes. But body control’s fantastic and ultimately the QV hustles the road more than the other way around.
Race mode’s the only setting where the dampers can access their third and hardest setting. However here ESC is also disabled, leaving you in the hands of a non-switchable drift-mode style ESC setting.
But even there, on your own, the Giulia QV is a supremely fast and friendly package that feels at home attacking a Mountain road as it would a racetrack. And to boot, its effortless engine and smooth gearbox make it a genuine cross-country bet.
We’d skip the Sparco seats or carbon ceramic brakes to keep its $143,900 price tag true as possible, unless you have track days in mind. But the way it looks with optional Competizione Red paint and telephone-dial 19s would weaken even an accountant’s resolve.
Others fast sedans might be cheaper or sound better. However when it comes time to compare, the Giulia QV seems to have enough right stuff to stand out on its own, racetrack or road.
4.5 stars out of five
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia QV specifications
Engine: 2891cc V6, DOHC, 24V, twin-turbo
Power: 375kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 2500-5500rpm
Weight: 1524KG (dry)
0-100km/h: 3.9sec (claimed)