The Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde is much faster to drive than it is to say. The flagship version of the VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST rival has been treated to a batch of tweaks for 2014, but the most notable is the arrival of the dual-clutch gearbox lifted straight from the seductive 4C sports car.
So the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde is dual-clutch only?
Yes. It is available exclusively with paddle-shifters as Alfa follows the likes of the Renaultsport Clio and Ferrari 458 Italia in having no manual option. The six-speed stick is gone, and the dual-clutch is now fitted to the 1742cc (badged 1750) four-cylinder intercooled, turbocharged engine that’s been given an aluminium block and 237bhp for the 4C.
That means the Giulietta QV now has 5bhp more than before, and combined with that gearbox, uses less fuel and accelerates faster. Read on for our full Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde review.
Is the Alfa Cloverleaf faster?
On paper, yes: it now covers 0-62mph in 6.0sec – 0.8sec better than the old version, and while that makes it faster than a Ford Focus ST, it’s still shaded by cars like the VW Golf R, Seat Leon Cupra R and the Renaultsport Megane. The dual-clutch transmission has allowed Launch Control for the first time, too, which will hold revs at 3750rpm before a snappy but not exactly gunshot take-off.
So while its acceleration is competitive, its £28k kick-off price – a £3k hike that makes it near identical to the evergreen Golf GTI's price – isn't.
The Alfa’s asking price includes the QV’s headlamp surrounds, unique front and rear bumpers, 18in alloys and a 10mm drop in ride height, as well as Bluetooth and sat-nav on a 6.5in touchscreen inside.
Yet for that money, you could have yourself the much more potent Subaru STI or Seat Leon Cupra R. Worse still, of you pay £30k for the ‘Launch Edition’ of the Alfa (which gets cosmetic changes including matt paint, and will be limited to 999 units globally) and the three-door manual Golf R comes up again, weighing in with its 5.1sec 0-62mph time. The Alfa’s picked an almighty fight…
What’s the Alfa Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde like to drive?
This is not a sharp, track-honed hot hatch. Sure, the engine has character in spades with a bassy idle and makes a great noise under load, but it’s noisy around town as it resonates through the cabin at slow speed. Alfa’s worked on the intake of the engine to give a good soundtrack, but it borders on annoying at slower speeds.
That’s when you’ll notice the ride: it’s firm, as a sports or performance car’s should be, and the basic, underlying ride is good. Hit a bump, though, and there’s too much crash into the cabin; feed it some revs, and the woeful body control can’t match the eager response of that engine.
The gearshifts, too, aren’t as smooth as they should be. Gearshift speed, which is claimed to be ‘faster than a human,’ is okay. The dual-clutch transmission has allowed Launch Control for the first time, too, which will hold revs at 3750rpm before a snappy but not exactly athletic release, despite the 251lb ft of torque being on hand from 2000rpm. But this is not a reactive, obedient corner carver: more a swift, fast version of a wobbly hatch.
Why doesn’t it handle?
Alfa has not made any change to the QV’s suspension since last time around. There’s no weight improvement, either: the engine’s alloy block saves 20kg, but the gearbox is conversely 20kg heavier, so the 2014 dual-clutch Giulietta QV carries the same 1320kg as the 2013 manual transmission version. You win some, you lose some…
That means it’s hampered by body roll that makes changes of direction sloppy, and the excessive lean into corners also shows up the lack of front-end grip: those smart-looking sport seats fail to convince otherwise. It’s easy to make the tyres screech without meaning to.
There’s a set of four-piston Brembo brakes up front, and they’re reasonably progressive and not light-switch bitey like you may expect. Nor do they squeal under pressure – but then, the QV won’t be going that fast anyway.
Beauty is subjective, but the Giulietta has style that perhaps no other hatch can match. Yet it’s outgunned in terms of equipment, speed, running costs and even emotion – that GTI badge has immense pull for VW – as well as price. Thankfully Alfa’s future is rear-wheel drive. The Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde merely maintains the status quo for the Italian brand.
>> Should the hottest Giulietta be a manual, or has Alfa made the right decision to ditch it for a double-clutcher? Let us know in the comments below