More than just luck and charm

by Andy Bryenton

The time was — and it’s not long ago — that if you wanted a fast four door European car you went right down to your local BMW dealership, picked something with an M on the front and drove home, probably sideways and grinning ear to ear.

Audis with an ‘S’ and Mercedes with an ‘AMG’ were also encouraged. But Alfa Romeo, a name haloed with racing glory, was relegated to being considered an enthusiast’s car, with a divine soundtrack but none of the serious underpinnings of the Teutonic trio.

To those who still labour under this mindset, the 2017 Giulia is a game changer. They say that greatness is hard to quantify, but by that metric of performance they call the ‘green hell’, Germany’s infamous Nurburgring race circuit, the Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde — it means four-leaf clover — clobbers close to all comers.

This pretty, four door tourer took to the ring last year and got around in seven minutes thirty nine seconds.

That’s quick — faster than a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. And while that may not be the newest bull out of Lamborghini’s stable, it’s worth noting that an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will set you back just shy of $140,000 new.

Guess how much the Murcielago is, even second hand? Added to which, the lads at Alfa Romeo were, amazingly, unsatisfied. They took out the manual gearbox, slotted in a clever new eight speed auto, and proceeded to cut that record time back to seven minutes thirty two seconds.

The green four-leafed clover has distinguished the best of the best Alfa Romeo sports cars ever since Ugo Sivocci won the 1923 Targa Florio in an Alfa emblazoned with what had been the coat of arms of one of Italy’s daring First World War flying squadrons. Since then it’s appeared on several special Alfas, with this latest Giulia being no exception.

With an engine sourced from Ferrari and producing upward of 500 horsepower, that aforementioned eight speed box, and an exhaust note like the snarling of heavy metal wolves, this is a car which looks, sounds, does, and is the business. Signore Sivocci would no doubt approve.

The best part about this resurgence of Alfa Romeo as a feared and respected competitor in the world of European motors — not just thanks to the Giulia QV, as the 4C and 8C were something special, too — is a matter of choice.

In a world where the big German three were chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, a beautifully styled, wonderfully fast Italian option is real espresso tiramisu.