Italy has entered the German-dominated sports sedan league with its new Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde (QV), which is touted as being a genuine BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 hunter.

Alfa calls the new Giulia the most authentic expression of the Alfa Romeo spirit, combining distinctive Italian design, high performance, ideal weight distribution, and weight-to-power ratio. Its athletic credentials centre around rear-wheel drive (its predecessor, the 159, was sold in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive) and lightweight construction that includes a carbon fibre driveshaft.

The Giulia is also available in more humble 2-litre turbo versions but it’s the flagship QV that’s caused excitement in the high-performance ranks with its 2.9-litre V6 biturbo engine and weight-saving bodywork: the bonnet, roof, front splitter and rear body inserts are carbon fibre while the doors and wheel arches are aluminium.

The car can be further lightened with options that include seats with a carbon fibre structural frame, and carbon ceramic discs. Together with engine outputs of 375kW and 600Nm, it makes for an impressive power-to-weight ratio.

We couldn’t wait to find out just how that stacked up against the Stuttgart savage and the Munich monster, so with Giulia media test cars only becoming available in a few weeks’ time, we found a privately-owned Giulia QV and took it to the Gerotek test centre last week to test its acceleration figures.

The Italian car has a factory-claimed 0-100km/h figure of 3.9 seconds at sea level, and at Gerotek’s high altitude we weren’t too far off that with a sprint of 4.2 seconds. It also achieved a decidedly brisk 2.2 second 0-60 time, and 12.3 seconds over the quarter-mile.

For comparison we looked up the figures we’d attained in the M3 and C63 S, and as you can see in the chart the Alfa’s a worthy rival to both the Benz and the Beemer. The Giulia boasts the fastest 0-60km/h time of the three, and equals the AMG for the quickest 0-100 sprint.

The less powerful M3 trails them both in standing sprints but surprisingly is a whisker ahead of the Alfa in 60-120 overtaking acceleration.

Notably the Giulia QV is electronically governed to a 307km/h top speed, much higher than its German rivals.

All this heady performance is transferred through an eight-speed torque converter transmission which was a delight with its quick-slick gearchanges, and felt very much like a dual-clutch gearbox.

Drivers can do the shifting themselves with steering paddles, while the Giulia’s driving character can be changed from eco-friendly to Race mode by flicking a ‘DNA’ switch on the console.

What struck me was how refined this Alfa was, and how this tended to mask the violence of the acceleration. It always felt quick, but it didn’t burst off the line with any wheelspin or quite the aural drama that 0-100 in 4.2 seconds would suggest. In Race mode the exhaust blurted a raunchier sound, with an aggressive ‘burp’ between gearshifts, but it never quite went into enraged-gorilla mode and always maintained a civilised veneer.

This applied to the ride quality as well, and in the softest of its modes the active suspension glided quite serenely over scarred and bumpy roads. The leather-padded carbon fibre seats are as comfortable as they are stylish, and the cockpit lays on the charm with high-class trimmings – perhaps not quite in the Benz/Beemer league, but the best we’ve yet seen from Alfa.

A sports sedan that can be used as a comfortable day-to-day commuter? Yes, absolutely.

With the springs stiffened in Race mode the Italian sports sedan gets through quick direction changes with a self-assured and hunkered-down manner, and the very direct steering keeps the driver well connected to the action.

The handling package is completed by a traction-enhancing torque vectoring system that allows the rear differential to control torque delivery separately to each wheel, which allowed the Giulia QV to blast around the Nürburgring in just 7 min 32 sec, a production sedan lap record.

VERDICT

Alfa has brought its A-game with this car, which marries Italian passion with refinement and delivers performance that stacks up well with the best in class. Apart from the beautiful but very track-focused 4C, the Giulia QV is the most exciting Alfa Romeo in years.

PERFORMANCE COMPARISON 

Alfa RomeoMercedes-AMGBMW
Giulia QVC63 SM3
Power and Torque375kW/600Nm375kW/700Nm317kW/550Nm
TransmissionAutomatic, RWDAutomatic, RWDDual clutch, RWD
0-60km/h2.2 secs2.4 secs2.6 secs
0-100km/h4.2 secs4.2 secs4.4 secs
Quarter mile12.4 secs12.3 secs12.6 secs
60-120km/h (in Drive)3.3 secs3.0 secs3.2 secs
PriceR1 400 000R1 360 250R1 199 636

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