Buying a high-performance luxury sedan in the United States in 2017 isn't difficult. You don't have to think about it. If you have the means, Mercedes, Lexus, Audi, Cadillac, and BMW have you covered — especially BMW.
The Bavarians created the sports sedan and brought it to America in the 1970s. Since then, BMW has improved on the idea to the point where its 3 Series is the platonic ideal of four-door go-fast-ness. If you move up the M-Sport M3 from BMW's performance division, you get the platonic ideal with fire in its belly.
The default choice, therefore, is obvious. But the default can be boring, and that's where Alfa Romeo comes in.
The Italian brand is returning to the US after a long absence. Alfas of old were stylish — just think about the convertible from "The Graduate" — but not exactly reliable. Fans put up with this until they didn't, and a surge of dependable Japanese and superbly crafted German vehicles arrived.
Alfa started small and weird with the 4C, effectively a small Ferrari. (Alfa and Ferrari used to live under the same room at Fiat, before Ferrari was spun out in an initial public offering in 2015.) We liked the 4C, but it was quirky.
Enter the Giulia, a proper sports sedan. Alfa just started selling it. Also, enter the Quadrifoglio performance upgrade. "Quadrifoglio" means "four-leaf clover" in Italian, and the meaning of that totem of good luck for Alfa is nicely explained by Michael Banovsky. Suffice it to say the green badge on the Giulia Quadrifoglio adds something special.
Alfa tossed us the keys to the car for a week, and we put it through its paces. So how did this $77,125 (as tested) challenger to the BMW M cars stack up?
Photos by Hollis Johnson.
We got out first taste of Alfa's return to America with the 4C, a taut little mid-engine roadster that's like a shrunken-down Ferrari.
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The Giulia is far more low-key — a dignified four-door, oozing luxury.
Our $77,195 test car came with a Vulcano black paint job and Alfa's distinctive front grille, an inverted triangle that evokes the brand's heritage. The Alfa badge, by the way, is probably the most beautiful in the automotive universe.
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Credit: Hollis Johnson