Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

There’s a reason that the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s interior foibles seem as petty as they are, and it’s to do with the way the car drives. In the past you might have found an Alfa with a breathtaking engine but so-so handling, but as we’ll see, that isn’t the case any more.

It’s not that the engine is the bad sibling in this relationship – any motor that shares this much with powerplants that come out of Modena is unlikely to be.

The handbook warns you to expect ‘instability’ when selecting Race mode, but it’s actually referring to the action of the selector and not to the car’s handling

The V6 fires to a purposeful, if not spiteful, idle, with the impression that air is being moved around in gruff amounts.

It's no Mercedes-AMG C63, but it is the equal of a BMW M3 when it comes to suggested intent. Ditto when you pull away, particularly if you twist the DNA drive mode selector to D (for dynamic), which increases the exhaust woofle, sharpens the throttle response and affects which gear the transmission opts to put itself in.

On part throttle, mind, there’s an occasional hesitancy: sometimes it gives you more than you ask, sometimes less, but it’s very slight and only just enough to prick your consciousness.

The eight-speed auto’s movements are nicely matched, although at anything more than a gentle cruise we found we wanted to take charge ourselves via the column-mounted shift paddles.

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Do so and the Alfa fairly flies. In perfect conditions and on new tyres it will hit 60mph from rest in under four seconds, but as a two-way average, with two people aboard and fully fuelled, there’s nothing wrong with the 4.5sec the car returned in our hands.

Turbo lag becomes negligible once you have 3000rpm or so wound on, and the V6 runs to a soulful 7300rpm, with a noise that’s smoother than that of an AMG V8 but is more involving than an M3’s.

Its gearbox operates with greater smoothness than that in either the AMG, which has a clutch instead of a torque converter, or the M3, which uses a dual-clutch automatic.

The Giulia mooches through gears with the ease of a tight torque converter auto, and is arguably better for it.

The Giulia stops well, too, even on worn P Zero Corsas and in the wet, although brake pedal feel as you come to a halt could be improved.

Initial feel is good, as is retardation, but often after you stop you have to adjust pedal pressure to prevent the Giulia creeping forwards.