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Engines on test: Alfa Romeo Giulia F154 2.9-liter

A Ferrari derived engine, in a RWD Alfa Romeo platfom? No wonder the consumer press has been losing its collective mind for the Giulia Quadrofoglio - but is it, and that engine, any good?

 

There’s a clichéd soundbite that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to Alfa Romeo, in that you aren’t a true petrolhead until you’ve owned one. The problem is, a ‘hot’ model from the Italian brand has always been a decidedly left-field option in a marketplace saturated with high-performance German metal. The death of the 3.2-liter V6 Busso that powered previous GTA Alfas was also an unforgivable nail in the sporty Alfa coffin. The GM-derived replacement unit may have made environmentalists happy, but it lacked pretty much everything that made the Busso so special in the first place.

Fast-forward to the present, and Alfa appears to have its mojo back. The Giulia introduces a much needed RWD platform to the brand, complete with an engine derived from the multiple-IEOTYA-winning Ferrari F154 V8 unit. It’s an appealing combination.

The F154 engine in the Giulia Quadrofoglio loses two cylinders from the Ferrari unit, but retains the 90° cylinder angle, the 86.5mm bore, 82.0mm stroke and dual IHI-sourced single-scroll turbochargers. A new aluminum cylinder head, a super-finished forged nitride steel crankshaft and a new crankcase were all required for the reduction in cylinders.

Despite the new Alfa engine being turbocharged, the maximum engine speed of the F154 is comparable with the naturally aspirated Bussos of the late 2000s, with a physical redline of 6,500rpm (down from 6,800rpm as seen in the 147 and 156 GTAs). But perhaps the biggest change is the size and delivery of the Quadrofoglio’s torque, with a constant 600Nm delivered between 2,500 and 5,500rpm.

What this means from behind the wheel is an alarming ability to reach well in excess of three figures without the car breaking a sweat. Its linear delivery is something to behold, as it relentlessly and freely runs to the redline in each gear. In race mode this equates to madness and fury as each brutal gearshift is accompanied with a shotgun blast from the exhausts. In standard mode, the torque also enables the Giulia to be an effortless cruiser that can overtake with ease and return a decent MPG too – as long as you are very reserved with the throttle.

Our only gripe with the car is in its column-fixed paddleshifters. When driving quickly no one shuffles the wheel, so if a shift is required when some lock is applied you have to remove one hand from the wheel, which rather defeats the point of them in the first place. Other than that, this is an Alfa Romeo that finally lives up to the hype surrounding the brand...and it's about time. 

 

24 November 2017

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