Enjoy the last of a dying breed

Doctor on the Road: Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio

If you love driving, then this may be one of the last chances to indulge in very special petrol-powered enjoyment before we are all engulfed by the very worthy electric revolution, says Dr Tony Rimmer.

What’s in a name? If an address in Harley Street is mentioned, we automatically think of high-quality private medicine.

Car makers work very hard to create brand names that evoke a strong sense of the values they aspire to in the minds of buyers. 

It takes decades to build up this reputation and a long history, often with motor sport involved, is the key to success. One such company is Alfa Romeo.

First established in 1910, it had a racing team that was successfully run by Enzo Ferrari before he set up his own titular company. Over the years, drivers have bought Alfa Romeos to enjoy a sporty drive and reflect on the rich heritage. 

Sporty image

Now, despite making saloon cars and SUVs, the company needs to keep this sporty image and one way to do it is to produce a halo model.

BMW has its M cars, Audi has its RS models and Alfa has its special Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) models.

Its Giulia four-door saloon has recently been updated after a successful four years since launch and the Quadrifoglio model has benefited too. 

To find out whether it competes with the similarly-sized and equally powerful BMW M3 saloon, I have been assessing this rather exceptional Alfa.

The Giulia’s styling still looks fresh after four years and, in Quadrifoglio form, is adorned by some obvious but subtle vents and spoilers that keep the car’s potential hidden from non-enthusiasts. The four-leaf clover badging on the front wings is a particularly neat touch. 

It is a good-looking car. The cabin and boot are as practical as in lesser models, which means it could easily function as a daily driver for a family of four. 

Sweetly balanced

An updated infotainment screen works well but, apart from the lovely leather steering wheel and seats, the interior build quality is not quite up to the level of German competitors. 

The sweetly balanced 2.9litre V6 engine produces a truly awesome 503bhp and drives the back wheels with the aid of a very necessary electronic traction control. Adjustable dampers allow the superbly tuned suspension to transfer all this power to the tarmac. 

Performance is electrifying. The 0-62mph sprint in 3.9 seconds is accompanied by a glorious soundtrack from the sports exhaust – music to the ears of petrolheads and a total contrast to the silent acceleration that defines all electric cars.

Driving this Alfa Romeo on the open road is an absolute delight for anyone who appreciates and enjoys a properly sorted and capable sports saloon.

Light on its feet 

Unencumbered by the significant weight of batteries in electric cars, it feels nimble and light on its feet. The steering is particularly impressive with just the right amount of feedback and sensitivity to allow accurate placement through any set of challenging bends. 

An eight-speed automatic box shifts swiftly and works really well in manual mode via the steering-wheel paddles. 

The power delivery is, as you would expect, instantly accessible and huge. This is a brutally quick car and devours A and B roads in equal measure. Keen drivers will only be able to explore the Quadrifoglio’s limits on a racetrack. 

Despite this massive performance potential, this Giulia has a softer side too. The ride, although firm, is comfortable and passengers will be perfectly happy on a long motorway trip. Allow the gearbox to change up early in Comfort mode and even the noise levels are subdued.

So, are there any downsides to this impressive breadth of abilities? Well, the Quadrifoglio is not cheap; the starting price is £68,995, which is almost twice as much as the Giulia 2.0 Turbo. 

Running costs will be high, too, with a real-world fuel consumption of no more than 20mpg if you explore the performance potential. Does it give the M3 a run for its money? I have driven the latest M3 Competition with identical power and four-wheel drive and although it is an impressive car, just as fast and better built, it lacks the addictive drama of the Alfa.

If you are a medic who loves driving, the Giulia Quadrifoglio may be one of the last chances to indulge in very special petrol-powered enjoyment before we are all engulfed by the very worthy electric revolution.

Dr Tony Rimmer (right) is a former NHS GP practising in Guildford, Surrey