Maddeningly, much the same as it was before. Despite Alfa’s efforts to namecheck the 4C at every given opportunity, the distant hope that the QV would somehow have contracted a hatchback-style strain of its infectious exhilaration is dashed within moments; instead it is still just modestly comfortable, tepidly fast and, sadly, often a decidedly stodgy repeat of Alfa’s past sins.
Mostly, this is because not much of note has actually changed. There’s no hardware alterations in the chassis, and the 22kg weight saving earned by using an aluminium block is essentially cancelled out by the weight penalty that arrives with the heavier gearbox. Thus the QV handles as the Cloverleaf did; offering a pleasing compromise between bump absorption and tautness when you’re not trying very hard - and then sloppily losing the plot when you do.
Four years ago we let the concession to comfort slide, but as the car’s value now sidles so close to the new Golf R – a shining example of how to be hardcore and accommodating within three clicks of a switch – the QV’s inability, even in Dynamic mode, to turn in smartly and put its power down consistently is now a blatant demerit.
The lack of proper body control, and the car’s resulting ineptitude at transferring forward energy into cornering speed – a facet not helped by the intransigence of the diff-aping stability control in tight corners – is made worse by the drag factor of the new engine and gearbox. Any comparison to the steroidal tearaway that powered the 4C is entirely spurious; the QV’s motor may feature the same packaging, but Alfa has consciously tapped all the dynamite from its lovable firework.
Its engineers claim that 80 per cent of the 250lb ft of torque is available from 1800rpm, yet in reality, the 1750 doesn’t appear to find its stride until well beyond 3000rpm, all to often leaving you in a lag-crippled deadspot. When it does arrive, the shove is insufficient - well off the pace a cheaper Leon Cupra would produce, and all but exhausted by 5750rpm.
Unfortunately for the engine, the limitations of its power band is helped not one jot by the TCT gearbox. In the 4C its pitfalls were papered over by the four-pot’s spiky drive; with that gone, its slow shifts and the chasmic-sized holes between ratios are all too obvious.
Again, left to its own devices in auto mode on the most casual mode of Alfa’s familiar DNA adaptive drive system, it’s patient imitation of a torque converter is acceptable; in a hot hatch, at the sharp end of your ambition, it’s just not.