When you first look at it, it catches you off guard. That's usually what happens when you are in front of something "fresh". The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, despite its conservative dress in titanium gray, does not pass unnoticed. There are details such as the yellow brake calipers, the carbon fiber spoilers and hood and the cloverleaf on the fenders that give a small hint of what's the potential of this gorgeous and elegant Italian sedan. And functional, if I may add.
Because this Giulia does it all. Forget having a daily driver, a car to valet park in front of the restaurant and a toy to toss around the track on the weekend: the Giulia Quadrifoglio is all you need. I will tell you why.
You are taking your daughter to daycare on Monday, rotate the handy DNA mode selector of the Giulia on A and she will soften up, quiet down immediately. The road will flow gently under the remotely adjusted suspension and your daily traffic will be eased by a gearbox that is pure perfection. The standard seats in leather and suede are comfortable but tight you have all the technological frills you would expect in 2017. Perfect. But even if averaging 24mpg, the full power is just a click away, flooring the pedal does the trick. Press it and the Giulia awakens strong of its 505hp, something you almost forgot to have few miles ago. You will be tempted.
Airbags everywhere, solid ABS brakes, smart stability and traction control: the Giulia will get you to daycare under mom's approval, with the jealous looks of the german cars drivers being an added bonus.
Friday comes and, I mean, look at it. Just look at it. Gorgeous, breaks necks at every corner, can impress with elegance like only much more expensive Italian cars do. Even the name, Giulia, makes you smile as you say it, far more charismatic than a Teutonic acronym. Aggressive style yet elegant, Alfa Romeo achieves what many have failed.
It's the weekend and it's time to turn the knob on "D", dynamic, a mode that exposes the potential of the Alfa Romeo. The suspensions stiffen to level 2 out of 3 and the exhaust open up, revealing a tone that is unmatched by any new turbo engine currently on sale (no stereo enhancer as far as I could tell).
A twisty road with fast sweepers becomes the favorite territory of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, planted on the fast turns and always communicating a sense of control to the driver even with the stability controls activated.
I have always been against electronic controls but I have to say that under the D mode everything on the Giulia is tuned for driver's satisfaction, maintaining the road feel that is so intrinsic in a purebred sports car.
The RACE mode on the DNA knob it's the real deal. Click counterclockwise and you have just established a direct connection to your Giulia. Because it's you, the car and your driving skills: no excuses.
The Circuit of the Americas has what I would call the perfect layout for the Alfa Romeo: twisty with long straight lines, it is ideal to test how well engine and chassis perform together in RACE mode. The several fast turns highlight how the Giulia likes to be driven with the accelerator more than with the steering wheel. That's how most of the best car I have ever driven behave.
Plenty of front grip is available to enter the turn, thanks mainly to the fantastic Pirelli PZero. After that is all chassis doing the work and keeping the car balanced, with the rear end gently helping to "close" the turn and directing the car exactly where you were looking at a few feet behind.
The power is all there, this car is so powerful it is unbelievable without sign of any power fading away even after a good hour of laps no stop: the tires give up before the engine does.
And then it's hard to resist not doing sideways, with the rear LSD locking up and sending you in a predictable, stable and extremely long oversteer. Even sideways, in a cloud of smoke coming out from the rear tires and the engine hitting the rev limiter the Giulia maintain its elegance.
The sedan segment now has a product at 360 degrees. Alfa Romeo value proposition has, from the technical and stylish point of view, simply no equals.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: the only car you'll ever need.
If you asked me in my 20s which was my dream car, I'd tell you a Honda/Acura NSX. Fast forward 10 years later and I bought one. The ownership has been fun, but I wish I liked to drive it as much as I like to look at it: we just never connected. It required a driver that is more of an engineer than what I am, an orango with addiction to oversteering.
Methodical, precise, accurate, focused - that's what driving a race car is about and that's what the NSX is. But is was not what I wanted, I guess.
I still had a ton of fun with it in my 2 years and 7000 miles of ownership and it answered the question: "Should you meet your heroes". Maybe not.
That's what it feels like riding a Ducati 916. Compared to anything else it feels so nible and light, with a chassis that communicates every single bump on the road. You can really tell it was taken from the races to the streets and not viceversa like, fr example, a Honda CBR or VTR was.
Yes, it sounds as if it is about to blow up BUT it will not! The bicilindrico engine has plenty of torque and dies right at 8,000rpms, as any honest twin should be. But the gearbox is tight and it's very easy to stay in the sweet, torquey spot.
Riding it makes you understand why it won so many WSBK championships. It is all business and requires your dedication to be precise in corner entry and exit, with the front wheel lifting even if the power is around 120hp or so.
This example is as stock as it could be, just like it was sold in 1997, with clutch and belts being replaced so that it's safe to push the little Ducati to the limit, even 21 years later!
2017 Corvette C7 Grandsport
For every petrolhead the release of a new Chevrolet Corvette is an experience, almost as important as the presidential elections. We take a look at the Corvette Grand Sport 2017, America’s new first lady.
The Grand sport is the link between the base C7 model and the badass sister, the Z06 equipped with supercharger and 650hp. Does the virtue lay in the middle? We’ll find out.
Let’s undress our lady to find out that the winning team doesn’t change: big V8 upfront, rear transaxle, long front hood and wheelbase. The first visual impact is that the Grandsport is lower and larger than in the pictures, with a big front mouth to cool down the several coolers and carbon fiber bits here and there. Chevrolet instantly made the previous C6 look old.
The interior though is the biggest improvement over the previous version. By entering the First Lady (oh behave!) we find a cockpit surrounding the driver, with quality material that looks and feel good. Our car had the optional e wonderful competition sport bucket seat, which are very good on track to contain movements and – cherry on top – they are ventilated: exactly what you need for a trackday in Texas.
The onboard display has all the info you want, from tire pressure to telemetry data. It also tells you the locking % of the rear e-diff, which I am not sure how useful that is or even if you have time at all to look at it while sliding around! Included is 4G wifi, Apple connection and the PDR system that records and overlays data of all your track sessions: you can forget your GoPro at home.
The gearbox is a 7 speed manual (Automatic is optional), with short throws and well spaced gears. The 7th gear it’s there to meet the MPG ratings, don’t you even think about using itunless you have the cruise control on and you are costing at 70mph. Or unless you are running out of fuel. The Grandsport is a thirsty at full throttle but thanks to the cylinder deactivation system the 24MPG are not a mirage at highway speeds.
The sound, music of the exhaust is coming from the small-block LT1, shared with the base C7. First appearing in 1955, the all new engine is very refined and definitely advanced compared to the old LS3. With 6.2 liters and direct injection the LT1 has 460hp and 630 Nm of torque at 4600rpms: that’s more than 100nm/liter , 90% of which is already available at 2,000rpms.
The result is a 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and top speed of more than 190mph, also thanks to the low Cx of 0.28. Our testing ground of this performance will be the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
Let’s start by saying that engine and brakes will be the 2 stars of the morning sessions. Let’s start with the brakes, Brembo carboceramic, part of the Z07 package option that also includes a different tuning to the magnetic ride control suspensions. The Italian calipers can stop our Grandsport from 60mph in about 90 feet and provide a bite that is very communicative, even in the little city driving we did to get to the track. The feeling on the circuit is weird for the first lap but once the temps go up they are fantastic. To give you a reference, on the back straight at Circuit of the Americas we went from 156mph to 30mph in 200 feet and the brakes did not fade once. For 2 days. Thankfully.
The engine itself is an American masterpiece: a genuine naturally aspirated V8 with torque to shoot the Grandsport out of the tightest corner even at low rpms. Caress the gas over 2.000rpms and you better be as quick as Bruce Lee with your hands on the steeringwheel because all that torque is coming at you. And the diff will lock. And the rear will go out. And you will be hitting the rev limiter before you know it. This is fun. After a nice powerslide the small block will scream progressively until 6.500rpms, pop in the next gear and feel the torque moving you forward. The numbers are there.
The gearbox is a bit notchy and while the automatic (can be disengaged) rev match helps when downshifting, we feel that it could be smoother in its operation. No complain on the gear spacing though second gear is really short.
In the afternoon session we discover how well setup the MRC suspension system is. There is ZERO bodyroll and the car just flattens on the turns, especially the 3-4-5-6 that are a quick zig-zag here at CotA. It’s unbelievable how well they handle the almost 3,400lbs of the car, making it feel much lighter than it actually is. They respond so well that going on a curb will not upset the trajectory of the car.
Finally, the all aluminum chassis (hello NSX) with carbon fiber panels has a torsional rigidity increased by 60% compared to the old C6. With a weight distribution of 50:50, drifting the Grandsport is a controllable pleasure while turns 16-17-18 is pure chassis doing it’s magic: communicative, rigid, never nervous. The beauty of the C7 project is apparent right in these details.
So let’s summarize: steering? Electric. Differential? Electric. Accelerator: Electric. Suspension? Electric. Do you spot a common theme? That’s also electric. It would be easy to assume that this Chevrolet Corvette Grandsport is just a dry electronic appliance but it’s the opposite: alive and communicative like few cars are nowadays. She ain’t Miss Godzilla.
GM and Chevrolet in specific achieved what many have failed: fill up a sportcars with electronic which-craft without numbing the driver’s feeling, maintaining a resemblance to some British cars of past times. While there are dozens of combinations you can select to adjust the car, even with everything off she will not try to kill you!
This is the Corvette you take to the track on the weekend and to work on Monday, with still the rubber marks on the hood from the trackday. Fantastic toy at a bargain considering the value it brings to the table. And to the track. To all 997 GT3 : beware.
Text: Andrea Bottini
Pictures: Danh Phan
2016 Challenger Hellcat
Sevenhunderedseventeen. This is a number that if paired with the name of a new coupe released in 2016 would make you think about the miles of driving range of the latest hybrid car thanks to materials made with powder of Jupiter and batteries with live algae. The petrolhead will probably think about a record lap at the Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 17 seconds, only to be surpassed in 6 months by the new record. No, this number refers to the horsepower, pure power from the most American car ever built: the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
In this era of hybrids Dodge has the guts to present a car with the most powerful gasoline engine for road use ever put into series production in the US.
Powered by a 6.2-liter HEMI® V8 and mated to a supercharged it reaches a maximum power, as we were saying, of 717 hp at 6,000rpm and a torque of 881 Nm at 4,000rpm. Before moving on to other details of the Hellcat, stop and read with me these numbers. They are impressive, and although the ratio hp / liter is not a record, it’s undeniable that having 120hp more than a Ferrari 458 Italia or have close to 200 Nm of torque more than a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 is a lust for any petrolhead!
The Challenger Hellcat wears four Pirelli PZero on beautiful 20 "wheels in size 275 / 40ZR-20 (106Y). Follow me in the minute of silence in honor of all the poor PZero specially developed for the Hellcat: given the tons of available torque and the weight of the car, the Pirelli are sacrificed at every traffic light and it is impossible to resist the temptation, very childish, to make them slip in third gear when flooring the accelerator.
The grandeur of the Challenger is also seen on the scale: how it is possible that a 4 seater coupe has a dry weight of 1,890kg and 2,110kg curb remains a mystery.
Enter the Challenger and a stunning red seat with leather and red Alcantara welcomes me, comfortable for the American extra large sizes but still containing. The dashboard is a modern TFT display showing various information on the car, infotainment, navigation, etc. In the middle there is a beautiful 8.4-inch HD display that can be set as a “walking dyno”. I like it!
With a weight of 40kg, the big supercharger at the limiter reaches almost 24,000 rpm and swallows the gigantic amount of 30,000 liters of air per minute to give an extra boost to the Hemi engine.
At my fourth traffic light takeoff with a burnout (unwillingly, I swear!) I realize that the hooligan mode in traffic is too much and wanting to avoid to be arrested I decide to configure the SRT button mode to the ECO mode. The Challenger is transformed in a big purring kitty.
The numbers of our "red key" tests can not do anything but confirm our suspicions: the best and 0-100 was marked in 3.7 seconds, the 160kmh reached in 8.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds passed at the stratospheric speed for a stock car of 200kmh. We have no problem believing that it can reach the declared 328kmh, to envy even other, more sophisticated Japanese supercars (Hello Godzilla).
All this speed is reset thanks to the italian Brembo, made up of 2 pieces 391mm discs and calipers with six pistons at the front, 350mm discs and four-piston calipers at the rear. They are so big that they could find a second life in a pizzeria as plates. The system is impeccable and it seems hard to believe but the Hellcat inspires more confidence under braking than acceleration, even on the track.
Arriving at a trackday with a Hellcat generates the same reaction of showing up with a prostitute at a corporate dinner: It is impossible to go unnoticed, all publicly will not appreciate your choice but, secretly, they would like to take a ride on her and they are jealous. We are still talking about the Hellcat.
It is clear from the beginning: trying to be fast in a turn with the Challenger is like asking a bodybuilder to scratch his ass. Mission impossible. Trying only leads to overheat the PZero and every attempt ends taking me off course or in a counter-steering right at the apex: as spectacular as risky given the bulk of the Hellcat.
Once you understand its limitations, the Hellcat is fun to drive. It's actually pretty easy to toss around although two key data need to be remembered: HP available and mass. Forget one of the 2 and it could go really bad.
Nowadays the Dodge Challenger Hellcat is an animal in danger of extinction, a Muscle car that does not want to claim to be a BMW M3 or a concentrated of batteries. And like all specimens endangered, it must be protected from accusations of being obsolete and anachronistic. The Hellcat is a car without a filter, is a sincere friend (a really big one) on which you can always rely. Meet him at a pub, offer him a few gallons of beer and you know he will entertain until the beer is over... Genuinely.
1993 Mazda RX7
Nulla lacinia finibus faucibus. Nulla in tellus arcu. Ut nisi libero, tincidunt sit amet pellentesque eget, imperdiet ut odio. Quisque sollicitudin diam sodales, dignissim justo vel, pretium nisl. Morbi volutpat mollis feugiat. Curabitur auctor eleifend magna, nec molestie libero pretium ac. Aliquam eleifend ornare metus, sagittis iaculis odio pulvinar at.
Morbi porttitor et massa vitae pharetra. Morbi sed ex in quam fermentum vehicula at eu nibh. Quisque in felis condimentum, ornare justo vitae, placerat sem. Duis sit amet neque odio. Cras tincidunt sapien nec fermentum vulputate. Vestibulum non rhoncus elit, id finibus sem. Integer sit amet velit nibh. Nunc fringilla nibh sit amet augue mattis, commodo ultrices massa gravida. Proin vestibulum condimentum sodales. Sed non vehicula risus.