Like every other journalist I was only allowed to drive the Quadrifoglio on Alfa’s smooth and featureless Balocco test track, so impressions of its ride and refinement need to wait until another day. What I can tell you is that it is not lacking in performance at all, even relative to its mighty rivals. Alfa claims a 0-62mph time of just 3.9 seconds and, so long as it has the traction to put the power down, I’d not doubt that figure. The engine sounds more good than great but it works so well with the autobox and its tight ratios that the slight lag and its reluctance to lose revs between the gears are completely concealed.
The chassis is better still, at least as far as its handling is concerned. For me the steering is just a little too quick off centre (it has the quickest rack in the class) but Alfa has worked hard with the suspension geometry to make sure this does not result in the car feeling aggressive and twitchy. On the contrary and in the difficult damp and wet conditions I encountered, the car felt superbly well balanced and as benign on the limit as you could reasonably expect.
Certainly there was a moment, coming out of a damp corner with the back of the car hunkered down under hard acceleration, the V6 howling and the rear tyres just starting to slip almost imperceptibly across the surface of the tarmac when I thought Alfa Romeo’s long wait in the wilderness was at an end. It is so far beyond the capabilities of any other Alfa saloon I have driven and so close to those with which it aspires to compete it seems certain not only to bring some much needed credibility in the market place, but also tears of joy to the eyes of the Alfisti who have waited not years but decades for this moment.