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Sorry, Greta: driving slowly in a Giulia Quadrifoglio really sucks

I might be the first person on earth to take any notice of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s fuel economy figure. It’s an irrelevance. As meaningful as an energy efficiency sticker on an American-style fridge freezer.

The hot Alfa’s performance figures are far cooler. Top speed: 191mph. Zero to 62mph: 3.9 seconds. Horsepower: 510 at 6,500rpm. Torque: 442lb ft at 2,500rpm. Numbers that once upon a time would have been strong enough to elevate a supercar to bedroom wall poster status.

The figures look great on paper, but reports suggest that they’re even better when translated to asphalt. I’ve never had the pleasure. The Giulia Quadrifoglio remained on the bucket list, sandwiched between dinner with Keeley Hawes and tackling Route 66 in an AMC Eagle.

I can tick one of those off the list. I haven’t left the country and Keeley won’t return my calls, so that leaves the Giulia Quadrifoglio. A chance to see what all the fuss is about. Where should I go? The Brecon Beacons? Scotland? The Yorkshire Dales? Nope, a business park in Bristol was my destination, within earshot of the M4 and a stone’s throw from Screwfix. Great.

The Alfa was one of 21 cars taking part in the inaugural WLTP Challenge: a driving event designed to prove the effectiveness of the new standardised fuel economy test procedure. In theory, WLTP should be more reflective of real-world driving conditions, rather than the old NEDC figures, which were about as truthful as a party political broadcast.

In the sterile surroundings of a car park in Bristol, the Alfa stood out like a pimple on an adolescent’s face, and not just because of its Competizione Red paint. The other vehicles were, for the most part, designed to be driven by people who nod in agreement to callers to the Jeremy Vine show and live out their days eating carrot cake in garden centre cafes.

Cars built with WLTP regulations in mind. Cars that don’t wear Quadrifoglio badges.

Go rogue or go home

Alfa Romeo Giulia WLTP Challenge

It’s at this point that I should tell you that the Giulia Quadrifoglio has a WLTP figure of 27.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 206g/km. Not too shabby for a four-door saloon powered by a Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged engine. The mission was to meet or exceed that figure over a 220-mile route designed to ‘simulate a typical journey for an employee driving on company business’.

This meant a visit to a Starbucks, lunch at an office block in the West Midlands, a visit to one of those sex shops on the A1, and half an hour in a layby to watch the highlights of the En-ger-land match on YouTube. I skipped the last two, primarily because I may have made them up.

The organisers were at pains to point out that the cars should be driven ‘in a normal way’ to reflect real-world motoring. Looking back, this should have been my invitation to drive the Alfa in the manner a 510hp real-wheel-drive manic saloon should be driven, but fearing for my next freelance commission, I towed the line.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio at Starbucks

What followed was an incredibly frustrating and at times tedious day behind the wheel. Hypermiling can be rewarding, but not, in turns out, when you’re popping your Giulia cherry. The temptation to ‘go rogue’ was ever present – after all, I might not get another opportunity with the fiery Italian.

Wales looked more appealing than lunch in Walsall, while Castle Combe offered greater riches than a slow crawl through the Cotswolds. But the car was being tracked and monitored by a team of big brothers, so I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I was hunted down by a crack crew of environmentalists and shipped home in the back of a Prius.

Skinny lattes and Greta scores

Having prepared for an eco drive, I knew what was required to show the electric, hybrid and diesel vehicles a thing or two about sipping fuel. A skinny latte was ordered to save weight, before I killed the air conditioning, left the optional Harman Kardon sound theatre turned off, and switched my right foot to featherlight mode. Time to spank the economy drive, or something.

Momentum is the key. Every time the car stops, you’ll waste precious fuel getting up to speed. Roundabouts and traffic lights require careful consideration if you’re to avoid stopping, while maintaining a safe distance to the car in front is the key to avoiding any unwanted braking.

Tipping its coppola to Extinction Rebellion, the Giulia features a couple of displays designed to get the most out of the tiny 58-litre fuel tank. One is an eco rating, which monitors your acceleration, braking and gear changes to deliver a kind of ‘Greta score’. At one point, this was as high as 91, although it’s mildly amusing that the system awards its own eight-speed automatic transmission the full 100 points.

Eco rating in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The other is an economy gauge nestled below the dials, which features a sliding scale of fuel consumption. Coast downhill and it shoots to the right; climb a hill and it disappears off to the left.

Hills are the enemy of an eco drive. Twenty miles of hard work can be undone by the slightest incline, sending Greta into a tailspin and putting the nearest petrol station on full alert. Dab the throttle before you climb to give yourself a fighting chance of staying green.

Motorways, on the other hand, are where all your earth dreams come true. Sticking to a steady 60mph saw the Giulia display a rather optimistic 44.1mpg, although this – along with my spirits – dropped as I ventured off the M5 and into the West Midlands. By lunchtime, I had had my fill of eco driving, and not even a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich could lift the mood. Forget WLTP FTW, this was more like WLTP FML.

Home before bedtime?

The route back to Bristol included tortuous motorway traffic and a drive through the Cotswolds on roads that should feel superb in a Giulia Quadrifoglio. Fast sweeping bends, glorious views, wide roundabout exits and long straights combined to create a natural habit for a rear-wheel-drive saloon. But not today, sonny. Today you must follow a line of traffic behind a WLTP challenger in Honda CR-V hybrid doing a steady 42mph on his way to a remarkable 70.08mpg – around 30mpg more than the claimed figure.

The Alfa’s economy after 223 miles: 36.39mpg, which is, as near as makes no difference, a 34 percent improvement on the WTLP figure. Not bad, especially when you consider that the Quadrifoglio is about as far removed from an eco car as I am from enjoying a caesar salad with Ms. Hawes.

But is a 34 percent upshift in economy worth it for all the frustration and torture of being overtaken by a Ford C-Max and tailgated by a Vauxhall Corsa? Of course not.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio at the petrol station

Air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent, so it was switched off. But this results in a sweaty back and the need to open the windows at traffic lights, at which point you breathe in all of those delightful toxins being pushed out by the surrounding lorries. A few years off your life to save a few mpgs – no thanks.

And because the future of eco driving means following a CR-V at a steady 42mph, the nation’s company car drivers will be late home for bedtime stories with their children, which will result in arguments with their partners and the breakdown of relationships. The kids need the Gruffalo, so put your foot down, Mr CR-V.

You’d be better off sticking a Giulia Quadrifoglio in the garage for weekends and holidays, and using a Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line for the daily commute. A chap managed to achieve 56.6mpg on the WLTP Challenge, in a car that’s fun to drive, cheap to buy and, on this evidence, cheap to run.

I can’t tell you a great deal about the Giulia Quadrifoglio, aside from the fact that the superb £3,250 Sparco bucket seats are worth every penny, the infotainment system is painfully poor and the ride comfort is great at 56mph. The car also turns more heads than halitosis.

The problem is, I was so preoccupied with whether or not you can drive a Giulia Quadrifoglio with restraint, I didn’t stop to think if I should. It’s a dinosaur in an age of electrification, but I’d urge you to enjoy cars like the Alfa while you still can. The car deserves more than to be restrained like a tiger on a leash.

Drive it like you’ve stolen the last gallon of fuel. Sorry, Greta.

Opinion: Now is the time to buy a used Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Unless you’re buying a new car, depreciation is a wonderful thing. The faster a car sheds its value, the more attractive it becomes to used car buyers. Which brings us on to the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.

You could spend upwards of £65,000 on a new Giulia Quadrifoglio, and we wouldn’t blame you. After all, who wouldn’t want to own a rear-wheel-drive ‘four-door Ferrari’ with 510hp on tap? But there are two good reasons why you shouldn’t.

Firstly, used examples start from around £33,000. That’s not for a well-used and well-worn Quadrifoglio with many miles on the clock and several careless owners to its name. That’s for a 2017 car with 5,000 miles on the clock.

Admittedly, that’s a one-off, but low mileage 2017 cars tend to cost between £35,000 and £40,000. Got a niggling doubt about Alfa Romeo reliability? Don’t worry, those cars are still in warranty.

Don’t take our word for it: the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has just been crowned Performance Car of the Year at the What Car? Used Car Awards 2019. 

“With its fantastic performance and that thrilling handling, it’s no wonder we love the Giulia Quadrifoglio.”

Not our words, Carol, but the words of What Car? magazine. Niggling doubts begone. Time to visit your local Alfa Romeo showroom?

Time to buy a used Giulia Quadrifoglio

It might not be the most sensible choice, but sensible people buy beige slacks from M&S and drive Honda CR-Vs. They don’t buy an Alfa saloon with a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged engine and enough power to hit 191mph, and 62mph in just 3.9 seconds.

‘Remarkable value’

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car? said: “Even in a category that was jam-packed with so many truly exciting cars, the Giulia Quadrifoglio stood out, thanks to its fantastic performance and thrilling handling.

“It sounds great too, thanks to its wonderful 503bhp [510hp] twin-turbocharged V6, and its undeniably massive appeal, whether you’re driving it, sitting in it or even just looking at it, is only increased further by the remarkable value it offers as a used buy.“

Andrew Tracey, marketing director for Alfa Romeo added: “Winning an award as a used car is testament to the quality of the Giulia Quadrifoglio. With its impressive performance credentials, coupled with a five-year warranty, the Alfa Romeo Giulia remains a great buy long after it has left the showroom”.

Still want that German performance saloon?

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Ti

Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio upgraded with revised engines and Apple CarPlay

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce TiAlfa Romeo is upgrading the Giulia and Stelvio range in time for the September 2018 registration change, with cleaner Euro 6D ‘WLTP-compliant’ engines, new trims, and the introduction of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the range.

The top 40 cars available with Apple CarPlay in the UK

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The smartphone-linking functionality is part of the 8.8-inch Alfa Connect infotainment system, which also includes standard sat nav on all models.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Ti

The Euro 6D upgrade sees AdBlue NOx reduction added to both 2.2-litre turbodiesels – and they both receive a 10hp power boost, so are rated at 160hp and 190hp respectively. In the Giulia, both claim 57.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km.

The 2019 model year Giulia range, which starts from £32,490, receives an equipment boost for individual models, too. Speciale versions have new 18-inch diamond-cut alloys, rear privacy glass and black brake calipers, while Veloce models get dark-finish five-hole 18-inch alloys, rear privacy glass and a standard auto-unlock Convenience pack.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The fiery Quadrifoglio (pictured above) also gets rear privacy glass, along with anodised black brake calipers and, for the more practicality-minded, 20/20/40 split-fold rear seats with a third rear centre seatbelt.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Ti

Alfa has introduced a new model for the 2019 model year, called Giulia Veloce Ti. Priced from £45,500, this is aimed at mixing Quadrifoglio looks with more accessible (and affordable) Veloce 280hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol performance.

The Veloce Ti gets the 19-inch dark five-hole alloys previously reserved for the Quadrifoglio, plus carbon grille and door mirrors, red brake calipers and the choice of optional Competizione Red and Trofeo White. There’s a £1,650 Carbon Pack option too.

(Top tip for spotting it at a glance over the Quadrifoglio? The replacement of the ‘green cloverleaf’ shields on the front wings with a ‘Veloce’ badge – although it doesn’t get the flared arches of the QV, either…)

Inside, Quadrifoglio leather and Alcantara sports seats are fitted, plus carbon interior trim, leather dashboard, black rooflining and illuminated carbon door sills. A Quadrifoglio in all but engine – and the turbo four still does 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds, while also returning 40.9mpg instead of barely 30mpg…

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

And the 2019 Stelvio range? Priced from £36,990, Super models receive Michelin Crossclimate winter tyres, the Speciale has rear privacy glass and black brake calipers, and the Quadrifoglio gets rear privacy glass, anodised brake calipers and 20-inch five-hole alloys in silver.

Alfa Romeo launches five-year warranty

Alfa also reminds us that its cars are now offered with a five-year, 75,000-mile warranty, which is backed up with three years’ free servicing and five years’ roadside assistance. A sign, perhaps, that modern Alfas now appeal to the head as well as the heart?

2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia pricesPrice
Giulia 2.0 Turbo petrol 200hp Super£32,490
Giulia 2.2 Turbo diesel 160hp Super£33,140
Giulia 2.2 Turbo diesel 190hp Speciale£36,990
Giulia 2.0 Turbo petrol 280hp Veloce£38,975
Giulia 2.0 Turbo petrol 280hp Veloce TI£45,500
Giulia 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo 510hp Quadrigolio£62,500
Giulia 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo 510hp Quadrigolio NRING£82,500
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio pricesPrice
Stelvio 2.2 Turbo diesel 190hp RWD Super£36,990
Stelvio 2.0 Turbo petrol 200hp AWD Super£37,590
Stelvio 2.2 Turbo diesel 190hp AWD Super£38,790
Stelvio 2.2 Turbo diesel 210hp AWD Speciale£43,390
Stelvio 2.0 Turbo petrol 280hp AWD Speciale£44,790
Stelvio 2.2 Turbo diesel 210hp AWD Milano Edizione£45,090
Stelvio 2.0 Turbo petrol 280hp AWD Milano Edizione£46,490
Stelvio 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo 510hp AWD Quadrifoglio£69,500
Stelvio 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo 510hp AWD Quadrifoglio NRING£89,500