Super-saloon has been revised to boost its track stability and stamina without harming its road manners

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio super-saloon has met with little but glowing praise since its launch in 2016. It came like manna from heaven for a great many car enthusiasts who’d longed to see the Italian marque make a performance car you could compare with the very best in class. The agility and purity of the car’s rear-driven handling, its handling fluency and compactness on the road, and the idiosyncratic fierceness of its Ferrari-derived V6 engine all won it instant recognition.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2023

Now, in a rare move in today's performance car market, Alfa has sought to make the car better by actually making it simpler. The car gets the same mid-life tweaks that were deployed on the regular Giulia earlier this year - new headlights, a new ‘Trilobo’ radiator grille, new digital instruments and an updated infotainment system. But specific to the Quadrifoglio version is a hike in peak power to 514bhp, and a recalibration of the suspension and driveline specification intended to give the car what Alfa performance engineering lead Domenico Bagnasco calls a "mini-GTA feel".

Alfa’s 100 Anniversario version (which we tested and celebrates the centenary of Alfa’s green cloverleaf iconography) gets gold-edged badging and detailing. Only 100 will be produced for the global market - and all UK ones are already sold.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2023

With the aim of dialling out a little of the on-track frailty and dynamic scruffiness that the Giulia’s old damper calibration and torque-vectoring rear differential could create (the latter especially, which was prone to overheating when given lots to do), fairly bold decisions were taken about this car's mechanical specification. For one, that electronically controlled eDiff was chucked in the bin, replaced by a more conventional mechanical limited-slip differential with a locking ratio of up to 35% under power and 50% on the overrun.

“We wanted more predictability, quicker chassis response, and more old-school handling feel from the car,” says Bagnasco, “and so we also increased anti-roll bar stiffness on both axles, and firmed up the calibration of the electronic dampers when working at their firmest. The feeling of the rear axle - how quickly it follows the direction in which you’re steering - is now improved and limit handling with the ESC switched off, a possibility we feel we have to include on an Alfa Romeo performance car, is more consistent.”

The Giulia’s low and well-supported driving position, simply arranged cockpit and controls, and sense of compactness and litheness on the road all still appeal as much in 2023 as they did in 2016. It doesn’t feel like a car seeking a higher-strung temperament either, as that ‘mini-GTA’ billing might have suggested. The ride and damper calibration remains gentle when you stick with the ‘Natural’ driving mode, the steering feels light but direct and the engine and gearbox are mostly docile enough to rub along with in normal traffic, albeit with occasional moments of low-speed driveline shuntiness from the transmission.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2023

The extra few horsepower, I rather suspect, is mostly for the birds. There’s no extra torque or turbo boost conjured by the 2.9-litre V6, just a slightly greater appetite for revs at the top end. It’s still a very appealing engine, with its elastic rush of mid-range torque and keenness for the redline - but it would benefit from less exhaust rort and more genuine combustion noise.

I needed the few laps afforded to us at the bumpy, cambered handling circuit at Montlhéry Autodrome to really tell any difference made to the hot Giulia’s handling by Alfa’s chassis revisions because, on the road, the car feels very familiar to drive, if perhaps a little more roll resistant.

But on track, it does feel improved: better tied down over fast crests and through compressions, a shade more precise and feelsome in its high-speed steering but, most of all, more stable through tighter turns from the apex onwards, with greater traction. 

While fun, the original Giulia QV’s active diff could pitch the car quite hard into corners initially via an overdriven outside rear wheel, only to throw its hands up once the car had started to slide and you were looking for assured traction to take you onwards. The new mechanical one feels quite mildly calibrated, but tolerates an exuberant line and input style better. WIth improved basic stability, you can fling the new Giulia around with greater confidence but drive it out of corners much better - and still take it to lurid drift angles if you so choose.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2023

This car will evidently continue in the same vein as it started, then, as arguably the most natural, poised, and intuitive-handling super-saloon you can buy - just now with the track precision and staying power that it used to lack.


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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LP in Brighton 4 July 2023
This looks like a wonderful flagship for the brand, but 100 annual global sales means that most of us will never even see one let alone be able to buy one. The company badly need to sell more cars to survive and building a few special versions of a seven year old design is really just a distraction. Where is today’s Alfasud?
Anton motorhead 2 July 2023
Just wish I could afford one. The balls are there!
V12smig 30 June 2023

wish I had the balls to buy one...

nivison 30 June 2023

Do it, I've had the MY20 Stelvio version for over 3 years now. Absolutely love it (I might have gone for the Guilia but the dog wasn't so keen). Reliability has been flawless.