Alfa Romeo Giulia VS Audi A6
Alfa Romeo Giulia
- Great tough looks
- Fantastic engine
- Excellent handling
- Road noise filters in cabin
- A and B pillars obstruct view
- Softer suspension does mean bouncy ride at times.
- Smooth everything
- Good equipment
- Understated looks
- Twin clutch transmission a bit dithery
- Soft ride means un-involving drive
- Dull steering
Alfa Romeo Giulia
You know how in the movie Rocky III Rocky Balboa has become all rich and successful, but unfit and he can’t really box to save himself.
Then the young maniac boxer James 'Clubber' Lang (awesomely played by Mr T) challenges him to a fight and his trainer tells him he’ll lose, but he fights him anyway, and gets knocked out.
But then he asks for a rematch, and Rocky trains hard and makes a comeback to beat Lang. Well that never happens. If it was the real world Rocky would have been beaten again.
Alfa Romeo is a bit like Rocky. The Italian carmaker used to be unbeatable in speed and looks – it won the first ever Formula One Grand Prix in 1950.
Alfas were drop dead gorgeous too, but then - like Rocky - things started to go downhill. It got successful, unfit and old. Yes, occasionally there were flashes of the genius we once knew, but if a car maker takes enough hits there’s every chance it will never get up again. Alfa Romeo had become a joke. It hurts to write that.
But there’s a big difference between Rocky and Alfa because a car maker can start afresh, build a fighter with a new body, more powerful fuel-pumping heart, stronger bones and given the right trainer it could become formidable.
Well that’s what Alfa hopes. The fighter’s name is Giulia. The trainer is Roberto Fedeli. The story goes that the head of Fiat Chrysler Sergio Marchionne could see Alfa was circling the plughole and called in the only person he felt that might just have a chance of being able to reach in and save it before it went down.
That was Ferrari’s chief engineer Fedeli. Told to fix it or look for a new job, Fedeli reckoned it was possible, but he needed some money…five billion Euros in fact. Oh, and he’d need a team… of 800 designers and engineers. He wasn’t mucking around.
When the Giulia made its world entrance in 2016 the star of the range – the hardcore Giulia Quadrifoglio (or QV for short) stepped into the ring dripping in carbon fibre with an engine that had Ferrari’s finger prints all over it and mouthing off about having just set the new lap record at the Nurburgring.
It’s mission is to lead Alfa Romeo’s comeback… and slay BMW’s M3 on the way there.
Now, we recently had the chance to drive the new Giulia Quadrifoglio on a track and it made us so happy you could tell we were grinning even though our helmet. But what is it like to drive on the road? We found out at its Australian launch. How did it handle the real world? Does it have what it takes to beat the M3 and Mercedes-Benz’s C63 S? More importantly is it enough to save Alfa Romeo?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Audi gamely continues to sell their 5 Series competitor, the A6. The high-rider A6 Allroad takes most of the attention, but if you keep an eye out, you'll see an A6 sedan every now and again.
Look even closer – really close – and you'll see that there's been a recent upgrade.
|Engine Type||1.8L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Alfa Romeo Giulia8.6/10
Absolutely stunning – both to drive and in looks. This is a monster, but one you can live with safely and practically. Proper rear seats, a proper boot and proper performance. A quality feeling package that feels more than a bit Ferrari but entirely Alfa Romeo. It does everything the M3 can. This looks very much to be a prize fighter that will lead Alfa Romeo’s comeback.
Comment call to action: Do you reckon the Giulia Quadrifoglio will make Alfa the next big thing? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
In many ways, the A6 1.8 is the very epitome of the Audi experience - quiet, composed and very stylish, it doesn't shout about itself. It's hardly a big seller but it does give those who wish for a big executive sedan from Ingolstadt everything they could need.
Would an A6 tempt you away from a 520i? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10
With its long, nostrilled bonnet, high roofline, short tail and almost no overhangs to mention there’s more than a sniff of BMW 3 Series going on. That’s no bad thing – its intentions are clear.
It’s actually smaller than the M3. The dimensions reveal that at 4639mm the Giulia Quadrifoglio is 32mm shorter end to end than the Beemer, but only 4mm narrower at 1873mm in width and just 2mm taller at 1426mm.
The Giulia is light at 1585kg thanks to the driveshaft, roof, bonnet, front splitter, plus the rear spoiler and side skirts being made of carbon fibre. Meanwhile the engine, suspension, brakes doors and wheel arches are all aluminium.
Inside, the cabin swallows you up in stitched leather, there’s a dash that that swoops and curves in front you and holds the impressive display screen. Many Alfa cabin traits are there such as the driver-orientated controls which tend to make the front passenger feel like, well just a front passenger.
Under all of this is an entirely new platform called Giorgio – it’s scalable like Volkswagen’s MQB. This means the Giulia is just one of the cars to be based on it – the Stelvio SUV also uses it and Alfa says there are more to come.
The A6 is one of Audi's subtlest pieces. It's a fine looking car but it doesn't really stand out in this base-spec, which is of course perfectly fine if that's what you're after.
Rolling on 18-inch alloys, it's a classy-looking thing, with Audi's trademark design language of creased sheetmetal, prominent front grille and distinctive daytime running lights. The new twin LED DRLs are more distinctive still, marking out the A6 from the rest of the range.
Inside is also very standard Audi, with a clean dashboard design and a screen that disappears into the depths of the dash when you lock up or if you want it out of the way.
Inside there's tons of room and it's a very comfortable cabin to spend time in. The driver gets plenty of adjustment and you sit reasonably low, snug between door and high-set console. The dashboard is the usual model of clarity although the optimistic speedo raised a few smiles. Despite it being tightly packed, it doesn't matter as the updated central screen can show a digital speed readout.
Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10
I don’t normally fit Alfa Romeos because I have Viking ancestry and don’t come from a land where the people have short legs and long arms. So as much as I’ve liked driving Alfas, when I do my legs are cramped and yet I feel too far from the wheel.
Not so in the Giulia, everything feels the right distance away. And the pedals, which in other Alfas are far too close and cause me to constantly hit the brake and accelerator at the same time just because my feet aren’t like a ballerina’s are a proper distance apart. Not once did I embarrass myself with my ‘brakcellator’ trick.
Room in the back is excellent – it’s a four seater and even at 191cm I can sit behind my own driving position with a good three fingers space between my knees and the seatback.
Boot space is also excellent and matches the M3’s 480 litres.
Storage inside is good in some places – such as wide the centre console storage bin, but not so great in others – the door pockets are only enough for small bottle and there only two cupholders – they’re in the front.
Price and features
Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10
The Quadrifoglio is the king of the Giulia range and lists at a right royal $143,900. Sounds like a fair bit of coin, but it undercuts the M3 Competition’s $144,615 and C63 S’s $155,510.
Standard features are excellent – there’s the 8.8-inch display, 14-speaker Harman Kardon 900w sound system, the carbon fibre bonnet, roof, side skirts and rear spoiler and carbon fibre interior trim, leather and Alcantara upholstery, the steering wheel with starter button, quad exhaust tips, aero curtain on the front bumper, active aero splitter, rear diffuser, B-Xenon adaptive headlights with auto-high beam, aluminium pedals and advanced safety equipment which we’ll tell you about, too.
Standard is cruise control, parking sensors front and rear with reversing camera, blind spot sensor and rear sensor for cross traffic, xenon headlights, keyless entry and start, climate control, electric front seats, leather trim, DAB radio and satnav.
There's a tremendously lengthy options list but as is the Audi custom, you can get the greatest hits in a couple of packages. Our test car had the Technik package ($5800) which added park assist, around-view camera, adaptive cruise with stop and go, autonomous emergency braking and four-zone climate control.
It also adds Audi Connect, which puts Google Earth overlays on the sat-nav maps, lets you search Google for points of interest and act as a wifi hotspot in the car (which needs its own SIM card; it doesn't like most smartphones).
Metallic paint is a supremely cheeky $2280 bringing our test car to $87,980.
The ten speaker stereo has the usual bluetooth and USB ports and is run from an 8.0-inch motorised retractable screen. Audi's MMI controls the show and there's the added bonus of DAB to go with it. The A6 actually has two USB ports, with a high-power port for faster phone charging. The big news is this upgraded A6 doesn't need the silly proprietary cable that the A4 still needs.
The MMI interface is very good and has gotten better and better over the years as Audi's designers have played with the mix of rotary and shortcut buttons.
Engine & trans
Alfa Romeo Giulia10/10
When it comes to six cylinder engines it’s hard to beat an inline six – the balance is near perfect, they scream and BMW’s delivers its power beautifully.
The Giulia has a V6. It’s a 2.9-litre twin turbo that makes more power than the M3’s 331kW at 375kW and also more torque at 600Nm.
It is a potent power plant and Alfa won’t say it too loudly, but with the same bore and stroke as the V8 in Ferrari California T it’s pretty much the same thing only with two cylinders chopped off.
Sending all that grunt to the rear wheels is an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission – I have pictures of this transmission on my fridge – it’s in a lot of cars and I am yet to find another road car transmission I like more.
A claimed 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds beats the M3 by 0.2 seconds.
Behind the A6's mildly modified snout is the 1.8-litre TFSI mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Basically, it's the same setup as some A3s and A4s. In the A6, it produces 140kW and 320Nm.
At 1645kg, you'd imagine fairly weedy performance but a 0-100km/h time of 7.9 seconds says otherwise. Fuel economy is a claimed 5.7L/100km on the combined cycle, but expect somewhere around 8.0L/100km in the real world. Which is still reasonable going for a petrol-powered car this big.
Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10
Starting in the Giulia with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes ($13,000) and the equally optional carbon fibre sports buckets ($7150) we joined Port Macquarie’s peak-hour traffic. Those anchors felt ‘doughy’ first thing in that cool morning and it wouldn’t be until they had some serious heat in them that they’d start to come to life. That wouldn’t be long because we were heading for the hills where great roads waited. But it gave us a good chance to drive this car in ‘normal’ conditions.
Straight away that ride felt so comfortable, so soft even that I was worried it affect handling later. I’d just got out of testing a BMW M3 which feel rock hard even on a ‘soft’ suspension setting. Steering was one-finger light. The dash is high, the window sills are high, the Recaros felt tight.
As we trundled down the main street that V6 gurgled deeply in third gear – that didn’t sound like any V6 I’d driven lately. Coming out of a roundabout and a gear change back to second and the V6 stirred louded but kept its throaty roar – this was special. Dabbing the accelerator the nose lifted up. This thing wanted to go. It felt light, ‘pointable’. Everything felt light – from the accelerator pedal to the steering and body weight. It was happy to stay on the leash. Well behaved, patient.
As we left the city behind I clicked the drive mode from ‘Natural’ into Dynamic and with heat now in the brakes decided to see what $5 billion euros and 800 engineers and designers felt like.
With acceleration so hard each shift upwards felt like a punch in the back. Those turbos are wound up with 35psi of boost it’s not until second gear that it rushed it then it’s time to for third and fourth. Using those giant paddles it’s hard to shift fast enough to keep up.
The only thing more impressive than the acceleration are those ceramic brakes – we’re talking 100km/h- 0 in 38.5 metres.
Swapping into a Giulia Quadrifoglio with standard brakes and seats I found stopping power was still impressive – those seats actually more comfortable for me.
As we scrambled through the tightest corners through the bush heading higher and higher it became clear that this was different from the M3. The BMW feels harder, firmer, more planted. But the Quadrifoglio was just as adept but did it in a softer more flowing fashion. It’s was agile, changing direction as easily as you could think it.
Also changing direction in the front splitter – it’s active meaning it moves up or down depending on when you need the extra down force.
It’s more powerful than the M3 and you can feel it – it’s wilder, less serious and slightly crazy, but smoother and softer in its suspension – there were times we scuffed the front splitter in dips.
There’s road noise – lots of it on the course chip. That is probably the only complaint. That and visibility front and side is hampered by the thickness and placement of the A and B pillars. The indicators are confusing and hard to stop indicating… but these are small things.
At full roar the Quadrifoglio bellows likes it has so much more to give, the M3 screams into battle.
Both are so so good, and do the same job, but differently.
Settling in behind the wheel of a big car with a small engine, even by today's standards, rarely promises much. The A6 is a relaxed kind of car to punt around, especially in Eco and Comfort modes.
The steering is quite remote, with artificial-feeling weight when you pile on some speed.
The idea, it seems, is to isolate occupants from the outside world and this is very successful. The ride is supple and the handling competent with mild, controlled body roll and a natural tendency to eventual understeer.
The seven-speed dual-clutch is perhaps not the the most obvious choice and seemed a little unsettled when you ask for a rapid clutch take-up from standstill. BMW's choice of eight-speed ZF auto would have been preferable, but it's no deal breaker.
Rear passengers have plenty of space to lounge around and it's also very quiet back there. Acres of shoulder and leg room give a good feeling of space and it almost feels as good as an A8.
Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10
The left-hand drive version of the Giulia Quadrifoglio has scored the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating, which is yet to be recognised by ANCAP. There's so much more than a reversing camera too, with active cruise control, AEB, lane keeping and rear cross traffic warning and auto high beam.
There’s two top tethers and two ISOFIX points in the back seat.