The Italian Hero: Alfa Romeo's Giulia Quadrifoglio

Bored with Beemers? Got Mercedes malaise? The antidote to Euro-sedan ennui is the stunningly fast and uncommonly lively Giulia Quadrifoglio, the first Alfa Romeo sedan sold in the U.S. in 20 years.

Italian Soul
Alfa Romeo's parent company is auto giant Fiat Chrysler, so you might expect a modest project like the Giulia to borrow a powerplant from one of its other brands. But mille grazie to the suits in Turin for letting Alfa develop its own. The top-tier Quadrifoglio model ($72,000) packs an all-aluminum, 505-horsepower, 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6. The lower-specced Ti model ($39,995) gets a two-liter turbo-four that yields 280 horsepower. Both have an eight-speed automatic that could make you forgive them for not offering a manual.

High-Tech Backbone
The Giulia features plenty of smarts. Its multi-material body, designed by Ferrari engineers, includes weight-saving carbon fiber in the hood, splitter, spoiler, and driveshaft. An aero front splitter on the Quadrifoglio moves up and down to improve stability at high speeds. And despite the Giulia's tack-sharp focus on driving at the limit, there are accommodations for the real-world commute: The top-tier model can run on three cylinders to save fuel, and an optional dynamic cruise control can slow the car to a stop in traffic.

Quick Reactions
It's perhaps the most energizing, responsive four-door on the road. In comparison with its German competition, the Giulia feels more reactive and direct, the result of its race-car-like steering ratio (11.8:1). Even micro-movements at the wheel alter the car's course. Also invigorating? Its rigid chassis and torque-vectoring rear differential both seem to shrink the car around you, making handling extremely predictable and responsive. As a result, you feel comfortable taking the next turn a bit more quickly.

Fashionably Fast
You don't have to go full Batmobile, but on the inside, the Giulia Quadrifoglio features as much carbon fiber as you'd want to option for — and it makes for a sharp cockpit. Get the Sparco racing seats (above) to save weight and keep you and your shotgun passenger's butt planted. More important, their sculpted shells look hot, and because the rear seats don't offer much legroom, your friends will need something to look at for distraction. Another interior highlight: the meaty, Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel (and its massive red ignition button) and a triumvirate of digital panels beyond, including a seven-inch color display. The Giulia's old-school leanings end at the dash, apparently. Its particular brand of exuberance isn't reserved for what's under the hood: The car's sheet metal features plenty of flair, too. Up front, the pronounced triangular grille (Alfa calls it the "Trilobo") punctuates the long hood like a bright scarf paired with a well-tailored Milanese suit.

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