Ah, those Italians. Back in 1923, race driver Ugo Sivocci slapped a green four-leaf clover on his ‘RL’ and drove it to victory in the first of Alfa Romeo’s ten Targa Florio wins.
Since then, the ‘Quadrifoglio Verde’ has been the symbol of Alfa Romeo racing cars and later graced special road-going series.
Latest to take on the lucky charm is the Giulietta, which, according to the maker, marks the return of the pure Italian hot hatch.
The QV tops off an already refreshed Giulietta range that, with its not-to-be ignored styling, including all-new interiors, an exterior facelift and award-winning powertrains, brings unique Italian style and sophistication to the segment.
Available in three trim levels – Progression, Distinctive and the Quadrifoglio Verde hot hatch – from $29,000, plus on-road costs, it is the last that concerns us here.
True to the Alfa Romeo race tradition, the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde is equipped with a new engine and is available with twin-clutch transmission and launch control.
Alternatively it can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Alfa Romeo has also brought out a Launch Edition model, which enhances the sports car looks of the standard Quadrifoglio Verde TCT by adding carbon-fibre mirror covers, a carbon-fibre rear spoiler and a sports body kit which comprises distinctive new side skirts, a front air dam and a rear diffuser. Combined with the new gloss black exterior highlights, the Giulietta QV Launch Edition is the ultimate Giulietta.
Just 500 examples will be built globally with 50, including the test vehicle, coming to Australia priced from $45,000, plus on-roads.
The allocation consists of 25 units in Alfa Red and 25 in Launch Edition-exclusive Matte Magnesio Grey.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio exhibits a more planted stance than its siblings thanks to a lowered sports suspension, while the legendary four-leaf clover emblem on the front wings, dark-tinted rear window glass put the onlooker in no doubt as to the hatchback’s intent.
The car’s aggressive look is completed by two large exhaust tailpipes and 18-inch traditional Alfa turbine-style alloy wheels, which refuse to hide the red, four-piston Brembo brake callipers and large 320mm brake discs.
Inside the cabin, quality materials and tasteful detail represent the ultimate in Italian style.
New wraparound sport seats, trimmed in leather and Alcantara with white and green stitching, offer firm yet comfortable security during the car’s showcasing its impressive performance.
The new leather wrapped flat-bottom sports steering wheel is trimmed in contrasting white stitching, enabling the driver to maintain a firm controlling grip, while also operating the spoke-mounted infotainment controls.
Large aluminium pedals are positioned perfectly to offer the driver snappy foot shifting for a true sense of sporting action.
A model-specific instrument panel is a mix of analogue and digital, and sports a built-in QV logo.
Signature QV kick-plates, darkened headlining with retractable sunshade over the sunroof, unique floor mats and a leather-trimmed gear lever and parking brake lever, with white and green contrast stitching, finish off the interior décor.
A new Uconnect multimedia system incorporates a 6.5-inch touchscreen in the central dashboard and comes complete with Bluetooth interface, Aux-in connector, USB port and the option of voice commands.
The 6.5-inch device also has a satellite navigation system with progressive route guidance and ‘One Step Voice Entry Destination’ function for entering addresses with voice commands, developed in collaboration with Harman and Here Auto.
The Giulietta QV engine has been plucked from the Alfa Romeo 4C supercar, boasting cutting-edge technology including direct fuel injection, dual continuous variable valve timing, a turbocharger and a revolutionary scavenging control system which rules out turbo lag.
Mated with a twin-clutch transmission, the 1750 Turbo Petrol aluminium-block engine delivers 177 kW at 5750 rpm and 340 Nm at 2000 rpm, the latter stable in the 2000-4000 rpm range, but is already 80 per cent on hand at just 1800 rpm.
TCT works in either all-automatic or sequential mode via the centre console-positioned gearshift, or steering-wheel mounted paddles.
The QV is also available with a six-speed manual transmission capable of generating 173 kW and 340 Nm.
The whole Giulietta range earned a five-star rating in crash tests according to the strict parameters introduced by Euro NCAP from its launch, scoring 97 per cent for adult passenger protection, one of the highest scores in the category.
The Giulietta skates across road surfaces thanks to a lowered suspension of lightweight MacPherson strut with aluminium knuckle, hollow anti-roll bar fitted on connecting rod up front, and multilink with auxiliary frame and aluminium wishbones, plus anti-roll bar, at the rear.
The oversized braking system, ventilated discs all round with red callipers, by Brembo, pulls up the hatch assuredly, and unlike some rivals, smoothly with no grabbing at any point.
An extra-special feature of the TCT Verde is the new Launch Control system, first employed on the Alfa 4C supercar. It is activated by pressing the brake and accelerator pedals flat to the floor, squeezing the down-shift paddle on the steering wheel and then releasing the brakes.
The system automatically takes care of traction control, power delivery and transmission upshifts to let go and hit the ‘ton’ in six seconds. F1 fun!
‘Advanced insulation techniques keep the cabin whisper quiet,’ says the Alfa blurb. No it doesn’t, and why would you want it to, with the deep note of the engine at work capping off an exhilarating driving experience.
The distinctive sound comes from the new fuel intake unit – QV Intake Engine Sound -that enhances the engine note at low frequencies to ensure this hot hatch delivers.
Then there’s the quality reproduction of the Bose premium sound system with nine speakers and sub-woofer, filling the interior space with a scale of music rarely found in a vehicle of this price segment.
However, the integrated front seat headrests can cause some neck twisting visual angst when backing out of the likes of a shopping centre parking space. It’s physio fodder.
As with all Alfas, the car’s character going forward can be matched to the driver’s requirements, or mood, using the signature DNA driving selector, which employs different throttle, transmission and steering settings simply dialled up by a switch on the centre console.
The result is a choice of ‘normal’ (soft and pliable), ‘dynamic’ (firm and responsive), safety and efficiency (beige boring).
Fuel consumption in the combined urban / highway cycle is a claimed 7 litres per 100 kilometres.
The test car registered up to 15 litres per 100 kilometres around suburban streets and 6.2 on a motorway run – considerably more in dynamic mode.
A hot hatch, eh. There are others that edge the Quadrofoglio Verde in this respect, but there is no denying the strength of the Italian style that goes with this in the new rare top-of-the-range Giulietta.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV manual from $39,000
Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV TCT from $42,000
Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV TCT Launch Edition from $45,000