Choose anyone to act as chauffeur for a hot lap of the Eastern Creek circuit in the new Alfa Romeo Giulia QV and chief test driver Armando Bracco would probably be that guy.
He might look kind of relaxed and jolly but hell, he developed the car’s dynamics so at the very least he’d be able to demonstrate a thing or two and be entertaining at the same time.
“Today we don’t drive fast,” he says, which is a little bit disappointing. Then there’s the kicker line: “Today,” he announces with a glint in his eye, “we drive sideways.”
And of course he did, picking up the throttle way too early and spinning up both rears well before the apex of the tighter corners, piling on the oppy-lock in a cloud of tyre smoke with the twin-turbo V6 yammering and grunting at full volume, then setting it up for the next turn and doing it all again.
You’ve probably heard about the Giulia QV, which has now arrived in Australia to do showroom battle with the likes of BMW’s M3 and the AMG C63 S. On paper it’s got the hardware. Rear drive, 375kW of twin-turbo V6 power and plenty more stuff – some of which has filtered down from Ferrari instead of up from Fiat, as has been the case in recent years. So it’s already sounding very positive.
It is obviously the pinnacle of the Giulia range, which starts at less than 60 grand for the 147kW 2.0-litre turbo model, progresses through to $72,000 for the tasty-sounding Veloce with a 206kW version of the same engine and peaks at the $144,000 QV.
Now that’s a little bit more than the cheapest M3 and a lot less than the C63 S, but how does the QV stack up? Until we do the comparo, there’s just a few laps of Sydney Motorsport Park (to use its real name) to get a feel for it, but the taste test is enough to make us hungry for more.
First up, despite the prodigious power output and Armando’s shenanigans, the QV isn’t necessarily an oversteering, tyre-spinning monster. A couple of tricks from the Ferrari 488 have been used, such as the electronic locking diff and torque delivery limited in the lower gears to ensure it can get its power down and launch either from standstill or out of a corner. It’ll do a claimed 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds on its way to a 307km/h top speed.
It certainly feels that quick, launching hard with the engine emitting that strangely burping V6 rumble, building power and noise levels as it heads for the redline. The dial on the centre console attenuates throttle action, traction control and other parameters, right up to race mode where stability control is virtually absent.
But no matter which program is selected there’s quick steering (just two turns lock-to-lock), well contained body movement and virtually no understeer. Oversteer, as stated, arrives on tap, but only as ordered.
Because it’s based on the all-new Giulia, previous Alfa foibles have been banished, meaning the driving position behind the three-spoke wheel is perfect, the cabin’s electronics and infotainment system are state of the art and the conventional eight-speed auto works like a charm.
Diving into the brief options list for the Sparco carbon fibre sports seats with their extra support is a worthwhile idea for any prospective owner.
The QV looks good as well, from the deep front air dam with its pop-out splitter to the side-skirts, rear diffuser and tiny little boot-lid spoiler. Much of that, plus bits of interior trim, are made from carbon fibre, but crucially, so are the bonnet and roof, so weight has been kept to a competitive sub-1600kg level.
The Giulia QV has the demeanour of a car that’s going to be easy to live with on the road as well as being brutally quick on the track and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes in the real world. However, the mere fact that Alfa has pulled such a lively rabbit out of its corporate hat can only be applauded.
4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
LIKE: Use of Ferrari parts; power packed; sorted dynamics
DISLIKE: Not yet tested on Aussie roads; need more time behind the wheel
Engine: 2891cc V6, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 375kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 2500-5000rpm