Conceived as a good-luck charm in the heroic period of motorsports, the Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) – written with a capital ‘Q’ – has distinguished the sports and industrial history of Alfa Romeo, and has become the logo for race cars and for the Italian marque’s more powerful and exclusive road vehicles.
Today, the standard-bearers in the new Alfa Romeo generation are the Giulia and Stelvio models, both of which bear the legendary Quadrifoglio badge, which certifies their qualities in terms of class-topping performance, handling and weight/power ratio, specific external and internal features, exclusive power-plants and a genuine Alfa Romeo sound.
They needed to be put to the test and the opportunity came with an invitation to a special media soiree for an ‘Alfa Romeo Golf Experiential Day’ in the UAE.
It meant travelling the night before and to keep within the theme, the organisers of the trip insisted on putting the guests up at the Palazzi Versace Dubai Hotel. The rooms have been designed by the Italian luxury fashion company and the five star property allows guests to experience ‘luxury and fashion’ on the creek.
As logos were going to play an important part on this trip, it should be noted that the Versace uses the head of Medusa, a Greek mythological figure. The logo came from the floor of ruins in the area of Reggio Calabria that the Versace siblings played in as children. Founder Gianni chose it because she made people fall in love with her and they had no way back. He hoped the company he founded in 1978 would have the same effect on people.
The selection of Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio models parked outside the hotel did not look out of place and within seconds of sitting behind the wheels of both vehicles, which each come with a BD40,000 price tag, my heart was melting Medusa-style too.
I’m not the only one, some of the world’s most critical motoring journalists have waxed lyrical about these beasts, so I don’t feel guilty about feeling overwhelmed by their style, grace and acceleration … but more of that later.
The good lady wife, Kathryn, and my golfing buddies, may have guffawed at the very idea of me being invited on a combined test drive and playing experience.
For some unknown reason, she thinks I’m a dreadful driver blaming me for every scrape, prang or near-miss … and the players at the Royal Golf Club (RGC) and Awali will never let me live down the day I landed one of their compatriots in hospital after he walked behind me as I was practicing a swing. Accidents happen, people.
After booking in after a business class flight of less than an hour and resting in my Versace-attired room, I joined a select group of writers for Part One of the motoring experience on a trip behind the wheel of a red Stelvio Quadrifoglio to the Arabian Ranches Golf Club (ARGC), managed by Troon, the company associated with our own RGC.
It was a game of ‘follow the leader’, which was quite handy as although I’m used to the highways of Bahrain and Europe, Dubai has followed the US-style of multi-lane mystery and guaranteed mayhem.
Within 10 minutes we were stuck in a giant traffic jam after a lorry had crashed on its side spilling its load and one-hour later we were still no closer to our destination.
At least it gave me and my passenger, a smashing chap called Mohammed from Oman, who I thought was very sporting in letting me get first drive of the machine, the chance to get to know the car. Fortunately, he was totally oblivious of my driving mishaps both on the road and on the golf course.
It gave us a chance to admire our fully loaded test car, even the standard leather front seats had been exchanged for a pair of carbon fibre-backed buckets. They do a great job of keeping driver and passenger in place and go a long way to giving the interior a sporting feel.
On both vehicles, the interior had been tailored like an exquisite bespoke suit, with craftsmanship and premium materials – carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara, a microfibre material manufactured and marketed in Milan.
As expected, cabin refinement is superb and the Quadrifoglio gets plenty of standard kit, including a state-of-the-art infotainment system, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, an electric sunroof and 14-speaker sound system.
When the traffic finally cleared, we had to make up for lost time. The Stelvio, Alfa Romeo’s first-ever SUV, is a premium mid-size vehicle. The renowned Italian approach to design has created an un-precedented and unmistakable vehicle that combines the comfort and the roominess of its category with the driving pleasure and the sporty performance that only a true Alfa Romeo can offer.
Designed for driving enthusiasts, it screams new standards in performance, style and technology. The high performance 510hp Stelvio Quadrifoglio has been recognised as the fastest production SUV around the famous German Nürburgring track, holding a record lap time of seven minutes and 51.7 seconds. But, as an SUV, it must also be comfortable, safe and spacious enough to collect the children from school and do a weekly shop on the way home.
It ticks all the boxes and there’s room in the boot for the golf clubs, of course.
Regarded as one of the Middle East’s most popular and best conditioned golf destinations, ARGC helps showcase the Alfa Romeo brand’s traditional values of passion, sporty style, exquisite taste and performance, all of which are perfectly encapsulated by the latest generation of exciting vehicles - the Giulia and Stelvio.
I did not let Bahrain down. We practiced on the driving range and on the putting green and when it came to the media competition on a golf course simulator the lucky Quadrifoglio exposure was working overtime on my swing.
Hitting my drive sweetly to a putting distance from the pin, the only person closer was a professional who stepped up at the end of the show … but not before I’d run a lap of honour around the tables in the restaurant next door celebrating victory.
With my head down from the clouds, we set off back to the hotel with Mohammed driving as I bored him with tales of perfect golfing positioning.
Later, alone in my room, under my divine Versace duvet, I dreamed of fast cars.
In the morning that dream became a reality. We set off on a road test adventure in the desert on a straight stretch of road away from the crowds. This might be the first-ever SUV to wear the coveted cloverleaf badge, but the Stelvio Quadrifoglio means something even greater for Alfa Romeo.
It’s the second stage of a momentous return to form and the ‘exclamation point’ to follow the red-blooded Giulia Quadrifoglio saloon that reaffirmed the brand’s ability to produce true performance cars.
The Stelvio is every bit as aggressive and explosively powerful as its extended wheel arches, angular bonnet vents and enlarged quad tailpipes suggest, with an equally intoxicating soundtrack to match, as the videos on my test drive experience prove.
The Stelvio Quadrifoglio sounds mean enough in Dynamic mode, but the gloves come off completely when Alfa’s DNA drive knob is dialled up to Race: upshifts sound like gunshots and the engine truly roars. The performance figures are equally dramatic.
The Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio, with their all-aluminium 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo petrol engines deliver 510 horsepower and 600 Nm of torque and are fitted with an 8 speed automatic transmission.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio guarantees thrilling performance: a top speed of 307 km/h and 0-100 km/h acceleration in just 3.9 seconds. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio reaches a top speed of 283 km/h and ac-celeration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds.
I swapped over for a drive in a beautiful blue Giulia Quadrifoglio later in the morning.
The technology behind it has been created to enhance performance and to give great driving sensations. The human /machine relationship is always at the core of all innovation, according to the technicians, to create a car that is a ‘natural extension of the body, the mind and the heart of the driver’.
The new Giulia Quadrifoglio isn’t just the fastest road sedan ever produced by Alfa Romeo. The most important emotion at the wheel that this car can deliver is pure thrills. Everything is engineered for uncompromising driving pleasure.
The powertrain system is more than a showcase for the best power-to-weight ratio in its class, it’s a study in how to use that power. Its perfect 50:50 weight distribution creates optimal balance and showcases the advantage of a rear-wheel-drive system in a front-engined vehicle.
By pairing rear-wheel drive with the front-mounted, all-aluminum six-cylinder engine, the Alfa Romeo engineering team was able to carefully distribute weight throughout the chassis.
On this particular jolly jaunt, I was now sat next to one of the marque’s representatives who insisted I put the ‘pedal to the metal’. I did and ‘wow’ … so that’s why it holds the other Nürburgring lap time record … for the fastest sedan.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio represents more than the most powerful this car maker ever created for street use. It represents a convergence of engineering and emotion that can only belong to a brand as fabled as Alfa Romeo.
Here’s to a sports badge born 106 years ago that still stands for something totally original today: a passion for motoring unlike any other. Visceral. Energetic. Technological. Crafted. Viva l’Italia!
The story of Alfa Romeo’s Quadrifoglio badge starts with driver Ugo Sivocci who was quick but often not able to secure victory, earning him the reputation as a driver who never had Lady Fortune on his side.
In 1923 he was so fed up that he decided to add a symbol of luck to his Alfa Romeo racing car: a four-leaf clover.
Sivocci won the 1923 Targa Florio and, apart from his talent behind the wheel, it seemed as though the Quadrifoglio helped win him the race.
But was the symbol to overcome superstition or for some other reason? As historians write, the clo-verleaf may have been a way for spectators, road users and other competitors to more quickly see Sivocci’s car from a distance as the roads raced at the time were often unpaved and dusty.
Sivocci tragically died later that year during practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza … the now well-known symbol hadn’t yet been painted on his Alfa Romeo P1 race car.
His death was recognised in a symbolic change to the Quadrifoglio: before Monza, the clover sat inside a white diamond, each point said to represent each of the Alfa Romeo factory drivers.
When Sivocci died, one of the points was removed, creating the Quadrifoglio triangle emblem that continues to this day. It is now used as a symbolic link to Alfa Romeo’s rich racing heritage, the four-leaf clover can be seen on sportier trim levels of the company’s sedans, coupes, and hatchbacks.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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