Germany has had a small section of the performance sedan market to itself for quite some time, but the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV is set to inject some red-blooded Italian flair into the executive muscle car class.
The Giulia range is designed to go toe-to-toe with vehicles like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and to top the range the Giulia QV puts the pressure on vehicles like the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 S.
Vehicle Style: High-performance prestige medium sedan
Price: $143,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 375kW/600Nm 2.9-litre 6cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.2 l/100km
A revitalised Alfa Romeo brand starts here with the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV priced at $143,900 before on-road costs in Australia with performance stats that promise to cause an upset amongst better known German rivals.
The Italian sports sedan has rear-wheel drive, 375kW of power and 600Nm of torque from its twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6, claimed acceleration of zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds and, (mostly academic in Australia) a 307km/h top speed.
None of that information is new. Alfa Romeo has been touting it since the Giulia QV first appeared overseas, but now the time has come to turn a wheel in anger during a handful of laps around Sydney Motorsport Park, prior to the first batch of 100 cars being delivered to owners.
Though not quite a comprehensive deep dive into the flagship Giulia and its abilities, this first taste serves to whet the appetites of enthusiasts in preparation to build waiting lists for the new Italian sprts sedan.
The interior is attractive as well as functional from the deeply sculpted instrument panel hiding TFT-display projected instruments to the comfortable driving position behind the three-spoke, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Standard equipment levels are high, with everything from an 8.8-inch infotainment display, a powerful Harman-Kardon 14-speaker stereo, auto stop-start, active cruise control and blind-spot monitoring included.
ON THE ROAD
There's plenty of oomph with instant acceleration from standstill, backed by a deep, guttural soundtrack that may be different to the V8 of the C 63 or BMW's inline six, but is no less appealing.
Any doubts the QV might have difficulties channelling its power to just two driven wheels are quickly dispelled - there's traction control of course, but the combination of an electronic limited slip differential, chunky 285/30R19 rear tyres and torque that's limited at lower revs all help to negate wheelspin.
It's a similar story when it comes to cornering because the QV has the handling precision of a scalpel, rather than the expected broad sword.
The steering is quick and precise with just two turns lock-to-lock, its active suspension virtually eliminates body movement and the amount of traction available means it powers out of corners after hitting an apex at speed you wouldn't dream about on the road.
Of course, having the luxury of some racetrack time means all sensibility can go out the window and with the driving mode selector set to Race (that is, with stability control turned off among other parameters) and a goodly amount of throttle in play in lower gears, the QV will power slide on opposite lock all too easily.
The gearbox is a conventional eight-speed automatic with torque converter and most of the time it's able to keep up with the action via its paddle-shift manual changes. Occasionally it will baulk at manually selecting another gear, but it's unlikely to be an issue on normal roads.
It stops well too, especially when fitted with the optional carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes. One other performance-oriented option is lightweight Sparco racing seats that offer a welcome amount of extra side-support to the standard eight-way power operated items.
To find out what the what the Giulia QV is like to drive over speed bumps, pock-marked surfaces, and the realities of road use including passengers, luggage and all the other accoutrements of more normal low-speed driving, that'll have to wait a few weeks until we sample it in everyday conditions.
But the QV seems to have the goods as a highly entertaining performance sedan, and that's a pretty good start.