We drove the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, a 505-horsepower Italian challenge to everything BMW holds dear

And now we come to the verdict.

And now we come to the verdict.

Hollis Johnson

Let’s get to the driving first. What makes the Giulia Quadrifoglio memorable is:

1. The savage growl of its glorious 505-horse six-banger. Yes, there’s Ferrari DNA in there, and yes, you can tell. Actually, a bit more than DNA — this is the same engine that goes into the new twin-turbo V-8 in the 488 GTB, minus a pair of cylinders.

2. The marvelously light and balanced feel of the car. Just to detail the competition a bit, the BMW M3 isn’t a slug, but it has that solid and planted-to-the-road Germanic feel to it while also being rear-wheel-drive like the Giulia Q. But the Alfa comes off as downright tossable in your hands, really more like the BMW M2 in spirit. At 3,800 pounds, it isn’t a featherweight, but its power-to-weight ratio is ideal and makes it drive like a leaf on the wind.

3. The ease of use when you aren’t accessing the Giulia Q’s segment-leading power. If all you want to do is putz around town or cruise on the freeway, the Alfa is a nice place in which to do it. To be honest, the car it reminded me of most was the Buick Regal GS, except the Buick can’t do 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds with a top speed of 191 mph.

Just quickly, the fuel economy isn’t great, but it isn’t appalling either, and you have the Efficiency drive mode: 17 city/24 highway/20 combined.

On safety, a $1,200 Driver Assistance package gives you forward-collision and lane-departure warnings.

Back to the driving. On Pirelli ZR19 tires and with Brembos on all four wheels, that river of power that the V-6 is cranking to the rubber is beautifully manageable. But when you want to poke along at moderate freeway velocities, the Alfa is dignified and easygoing. A car this fast shouldn’t feel this good when driving this slow, but it does.

In the sport-sedan segment — notably, the sportier subset of the segment, where the BMW M and the Mercedes AMG and the Audi RS dwells — each ride needs its logic, a determination of identity. “Italian-ness” isn’t going to cut it, and besides, that’s what Alfa’s stablemate Maserati already has going for it.

So if the Bimmer M is the state of the art, and the AMG brings the Mercedes luxe vibe, and the Audi RS channels the carmaker’s rally-racing heritage (with all-wheel-drive), then what does the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio bring to the table?

Basically, just a little bit more — and a little bit less. What you have in the Alfa Giulia Q is a V-6 Ferrari in four-door form. That’s the more. But you also have a Chrysler sedan, frankly, in a world where Chrysler’s mass-market sedans, thanks to the strategic thinking of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, are about to vanish from American lands, giving way to the market’s appetite for SUVs.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have a lot of good old-fashioned Italian style with the Alfa. But that’s beside the point. Put this car up against a BMW M3, and in many respects, you have a better car. That’s saying something. The Giulia Q has been designed to beat BMW at its own game, just as everybody has been trying to beat BMW at its own game for decades.

The stunner is that Alfa Romeo has done it.

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