It’s a saturday morning in November, wet roads and a cold wind, but being the weekend these roads are quieter than normal, I think to myself that’s probably a good thing as I approach my destination. That destination is Mangoletsi near Knutsford in Cheshire. The renowned and well respected FCA dealer had offered EnZari the opportunity to come along to the party, as the new Alfa Romeo Giulia got it’s offical launch. Simon Taylor from Mangoletsi had informed us several models of the new sports saloon would be on hand, but of course the mouth watering Quadrifoglio would be the main star of the event. Although having the rear wheel drive, 503bhp V6 car hurtling down a country lane covered in wet leaves after a downpour might not be the perfect conditions, but hell we’ll take a chance.
The first thing I notice is the yellow, as in, a yellow Alfa Romeo 4C that sits proudly outside, for a moment I wonder if I should just forgo the lights & music I can hear from inside Mangoletis’s showroom and see if I can sneak the keys to the 4C, after all out here in the Cheshire countryside the 4C was made for fun driving. But alas maybe another day, today belongs to a different car, one that has been widely anticipated for sometime, a car that a certain Top Gear presenter has sold his BMW M3 for, the car carries a huge weight on it’s shoulders, so it deserves it’s day, let the lights & music begin.
For those who have been on the moon for the last year or so, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia is it’s new sports saloon, a car to take on the best from BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar’s XE. Available in various guises, Guilia (standard), Super & Speciale, with the option of a 2 litre turbo petrol or 2.2 litre turbo diesel (150bhp or 180bhp) the new Alfa Romeo saloon has the right make up to tick the business users box as well as the private buyer. And did I mention the 503bhp V6 Quadrifoglio model, apparently it’s quiet good, but more about that later.
So outside Mangoletsi we are greeted by a pleasant ‘VIP Parking’ attendant, confirming we were who we said we were (phew – my passport wasn’t on me!) he hands us our ‘VIP Pass’ , glancing around, the forecourt has the usual array of used stocked, freshly cleaned MiTo’s and Giulietta’s mixed in with a few other cars from the FCA group, the recently launched Fiat 124 Spider, Abarth 595’s, enough to make you hesitate and look around, before you follow the lights and music inside to see what all this is really about. Inside the showroom is an extension of what we’ve seen outside, more FCA stock, a nice touch is the seperated off Abarth section, including the Abarth 124 Spider, which again like the 4C earlier gives me temptation to just ask for the keys and ‘take her for a spin’ but then my thoughts are interrupted by a colleague from Mangoletsi, who greets us and informs us he’s delighted they have two of the new Giulia models available for us, the Super and naturally the Quadrifoglio, in fact it’s fair to say he’s as excited as a kid in a sweet shop, clearly the vibe from this new sports saloon is catching, time to have my wits about me, he also adds that they have a Pro-Driver with them today for the launch, just to show people what the Quadrifoglio can do, nice touch.
Time to see the merchandise as they say, back outside sits a dark blue Giulia Super, it looks good, nice design, everything in proportion, this particular model has a two tone leather interior, inserts in black with tan edging, , the tan leather also features on the dash, which gives it a rich quality feel. Ergonomically it’s beautifully designed, clear and well set out. Interior space is good, while I make myself comfortable in the drivers seat, my 6ft colleague climbs in the back and informs me ‘plenty room here for 2 more’. There’s no doubt the ‘Super’ version will be the one we see the most of on the road.
There’s a few moments when it comes to cars when you get the wow factor, sometimes it’s the looks, sometimes it’s the sound, usually when it’s supercars you get both, seldom do you ever get it in sub £100k cars, rarer still for it to have 4 doors, but there’s no mistaking the wow factor I’ve just encountered, a flash of red as it pulls into the car park, then the sound, you’d think a supercar had just pulled in, then the looks, the ‘Super’ is a good looking car, but the Quadrifoglio manages to mix the good looks with aggression, a bit of ‘come and have a go if you think your hard enough’ attitude. Still the overall sense you get when you see it, is how bloody good it looks, I mean really, if this had the prancing horse on the bonnet you’d not be surprised. But it hasn’t, despite having a detuned Ferrari V6 engine, this is pure Alfa Romeo.
Climbing behind the wheel, it’s an exciting prospect, this is a 4 door saloon that can hit 0-60 in under 4 seconds and max out at 191mph and I’m wondering if the local plod know this Italian beast is in town? Of course we’re going to stick within the local speed limits, but it has to be said the Quadrifoglio looks like it’s hitting 3 figure speeds stood still. For the ride Mangoletsi have brought along a Pro-Driver, his opening intro is ‘you’ll like this car, I drive an M3 and this is sooo much better’, good sales talk I’d agree but somehow I’m inclined to believe him. Pressing the red Start button mounted F1 style on the steering wheel she bursts into life and it’s alive, it really is, pulling away you feel like the car is moulded around you, like your a part of it. With Alfa Romeo’s onboard driving system – DNA, the Quadrifoglio has the additional Race mode, switching traction control off, sounds fun but maybe not suited for these wet cold morning roads, currently covered in leaves. Cruising round, restricted by local speed limits you get a good feeling of whats underneath you, excellent feedback through the steering, comfortable seats and with adaptable suspension the local speed bumps make little or no interruption to the car. We pull over to swap places, a good photo opportunity and while my colleague plays a concerto with the engine, we also do a quick Periscope broadcast, a chance to show this phenomenal car and it’s soundtrack live. Climbing back in, we’re heading back, driven by our Pro-Driver, it’s a chance to look round and take in the interior a bit more, this particular car has the optional extra seats complete with carbon fibre, they hold you comfortably in place, carbon fibre features elsewhere in the cabin keeping the theme going, all feels very special much like the car.
Arriving back at Mangoletsi it’s disappointing, that’s the overall feeling that struck me, disappointing to have to climb out of the car and leave it behind. It’s a car that leaves you wanting more, admire the looks, another spin round the block, but for today it’s staying here. A been a good event providing an excellant opportunity to drive the Giulia, rather than just see the car stationary in a showroom, nothing beats getting behind the wheel. The guys at Mangoletsi put on a good show for the launch of such an important car as the Giulia is to Alfa Romeo, the buzz in this part of Cheshire today will have been reverberating around nicely. Fantastico!