What is it?
The new Alfa Romeo Giulietta Cloverleaf. Or rather what would have been called the Cloverleaf before Alfa Romeo retired the English descriptive and reverted to the Quadrifoglio Verde used in Italy and elsewhere.
If that looks to you like the kind of name Tolkien would have given a dwarf then shame on you; Quadrifoglio Verde essentially means four-leaf clover in Italian and is the good luck emblem racing Alfas have been wearing since the ’20s.
The leafage has been a feature of road cars since the ’60s; not all of them, it must be said, worthy of the distinction. That much has been particularly true of the recent output, with the previous Alfa Romeo Giulietta dismissed as overpriced and undercooked when it appeared in the UK back in 2010.
To fix this complaint, Alfa has removed the 1750 Turbo engine and manual gearbox previously used, and replaced it with the powertrain from the 4C. The lightened version of the same direct-injected four-pot may only produce 5bhp more at 237bhp, but it comes attached to the dual-clutch, six-speed TCT gearbox as standard.
While a paddle shifter may not be everyone’s idea of hot hatch heaven, it does ensure that - when used in conjunction with the QV’s launch control - that almost a second has been shaved from the car’s 0-62mph time. It also benefits from a modest CO2 emission drop; the fall from 177g/km to 162g/km ensuring that the latest model tumbles handily back two VED bands.
As before, Alfa keeps the styling add-ons reasonably subtle; there is a dash of anthracite here and there and larger twin tailpipes out back, but the wheels only swell to 18 inches and the car isn’t a great deal lower than standard.
The kit list is reasonably plump – a new 6.5-inch multimedia system is included -– but the asking price is plump too; when it goes on sale next month the QV will start from £28,120, which is about the same as you’d pay for a top spec Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Or, if you’d prefer a wee bit more exclusivity, you can have one of the first 100 examples to make it to the showrooms, which will be a special ‘Launch Edition’ that features enough stuck-on carbonfibre bodywork to bump the price to £30,280. That's beyond the asking price of a VW Golf R.