BMW M3 vs. Alfa Romeo Giulia QV, Duel of The Sport Sedans
Updated: Apr 30, 2022
Comparisons, one of the biggest controversy starters in the lovely world we call the car community. Like all aspects of our lives, everyone has an opinion to express on the matter of two or more cars being put against each other for a face-off, well today it’s my turn to stir things up!
For our first comparison, we have a David and Goliath match-up on hand. The Goliath in this case being the 2021 BMW G80 M3 Competition, sporting a 3.0 Liter inline 6 and a historical legacy like no other sports sedan before it (hence the Goliath position).
If you’ll remember, we did a "first impressions" article on a black manual G80 before we could get it out on the road at a local dealership. If you need a refresher, go check that article out here for more background on the newest M3.
But what’s the second car we’ve brought together to face off against the mighty German? Enter the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the real underdog of this comparison, lacking the lengthy pedigree of the M car, but no less of a monstrous daily driver.
Let’s talk numbers before we compare the two different experiences these cars provide. The M3 specced here in Competition guise makes 503 horsepower through an 8-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels (although BMW’s trademarked ‘Xdrive’ system is available if you fancy.) BMW’s sport sedan is quite a porky one, sparing no expense on luxury and comfort. These accoutrements result in a 30 pound excess over the Alfa, which feels way more light on its feet in comparison.
The M, optioned in the fabulous Isle of Man Green (yours for a $550 plus-up compared to some other color options), has the standard sport seats, which didn't meet the plush-sporty feel expectations we usually have for Beamer's comfort standards. This makes around-town driving a little less comfy. What earns the M3 back a few points is the brakes which not only keep stopping silent, but your pockets $8,150 lighter without needing the option of the carbon ceramics which are fitted to the Alfa Romeo we tested.
BMW M-cars are always in the spotlight so now it's time for the less-known Italian they call the Quadrifoglio or "QV". In 2017, a QV like this one would set you back nearly $10,000 more than the M, with the exclusive 2017 option of carbon fiber bucket seats which are infinitely more comfortable and grippy around town and on the backroads.
The Giulia QV is powered by a 2.9 Liter Ferrari-derived V6 pumping out a strong 505hp through by far the best ZF 8-speed automatic transmission I’ve ever experienced, again through the rear wheels only. All these stats and numbers could make the head of any car enthusiast spin, so let’s take both of them out for a spirited drive and I’ll render my verdict that I am sure will draw all sorts of controversy from the opinionated.
When you physically enter the M, it welcomes you with beautiful leather, Alcantara, and carbon fiber surfaces; along with the most uncomfortable “comfort” seats I’ve ever experienced. What gives? Does BMW seriously want you to option their $3,800 carbon bucket seats that badly? I suppose so, given that the Alfa has some of the best buckets in the game. Nonetheless, that’s a bad way to introduce the car, considering it is one of now-legendary status. In the Competition trim as tested, the M3 churns out 503 horsepower and puts it down with precision and expertise through the rear wheels. In typical German fashion, the car sticks to the road under cornering, and even when the launch control feature is activated (fun fact: the RWD G80’s launch in 2nd gear, while the AWD models do it in first!)
Tech is plentiful on the inside, featuring BMW’s signature 360-degree parking camera system (in the exact color of your car!), along with safety items like self-tightening seat belts when you select any sort of traction-deterring driving mode. Frankly, the most disappointing aspect of the M3 is the noise it makes. If you’ve seen any of the videos on our Instagram of the 600hp F80 M3 (check that review out here), you’ll know that the old S55 engine screams and backfires like a wild animal. That sound gave the F80 so much spirit, but it’s lost in this case with new OPF exhaust regulations (no fault of BMW) muting the quad-piped M3 to nothing more than a few snarls and light burbles.
Does that mean the BMW is slow? Ha, that’s the last thing the new G80 is. Because of the astounding grip the meaty rear tires provide, even off launch the M sticks and flies into the distance like no 500hp car can. In comparison to the silly and tail-happy F80 from the previous gen, this is a serious straight-line machine. Another drawback in the performance department that is considered by some to bounds and leaps better in the area of comfort is the all-new 8-speed automatic transmission fitted to the G80 M3. Although nowhere near as brutal and fast as the vicious dual-clutch in the F80, the 8-speed again draws from the spirit and character of this car so that it almost feels...boring.
Keeping in the theme of starting on the negative, the QV is starting to show its age. The interior feels like it’s from 2017, which in comparison to the M3, is stone-age technology. But Alfa Romeo doesn’t care, and after spending some time winding out the Quadrifoglio on some twisty backroads, neither did I. The heart of this sedan is a glorious, Ferrari-derived, 2.9 Liter twin-turbo V6 which is at its core, a 488 V8 with 2 cylinders chopped off the end. It unleashes 505 horsepower on its rear tires through the best variant of the ZF 8-speed automatic ever put in a car.
The interior, although no luxury suite like the BMW, feels every bit of an exotic straight out of Maranello, with gargantuan column-mounted paddle shifters sitting behind a thin and light carbon fiber steering wheel featuring a red start/stop button right where you’d find it in a car badged with the Prancing Horse.
The bucket seats give my wider figure a warm hug (no comments please), featuring excellent thigh support and grippy side bolsters, which will come in handy when you start to drive the Alfa. Fire up the V6 and it mutes the M3’s exhaust like it wasn’t even running, just hinting as to what you’re about to get yourself into. The QV excites you to drive it because of how visceral it is, especially for a sedan of this size. Get out on the road, and it hides its weight like no 4-door car should, I swear it’s tucked away with clothespins like Homer in a Simpsons episode.
The ZF smacks from gear to gear with a gunshot-like bang anywhere above 5,000rpm, triggering a series of giggles from the owner of this car Chris, and myself along with him. Turbo lag is present in the QV, leaving it not as responsive as the M3, but offering a thrust of acceleration as the revs build. Other drawbacks of the Alfa? Grip sure is one of them. That same turbo lag has a small tendency to light up the rear tires when you give it the boot, which means it can’t corner as hard as the BMW, nor launch from a standstill like the M.
These are both fantastic cars, and there’s no denying that’s a fact, but one has to be better than the other, right? Of course, here’s what I think. The M, a serious, powerful German sedan, leaves you cuddled in its quiet and serene cabin but lacks the soul that its predecessor, the F80, exercised so well. The QV on the other hand is the Ying to the BMW’s Yang, playful, loud, and lightweight. Alfa Romeo set out to create a track monster you could pick your kids up from school in, while the M3 encourages you to do more of the latter. As Chris said so beautifully, “The M3 started as a performance car that slowly evolved into a luxury one. The Alfa is a car born solely to capture the essence of the original M3.” That’s why at the end of the day, I’d still take the Quadrifoglio given the option between the two. It’s exciting, spirited, and rewarding when you push it to its oh-so-sweet limits.
We hope this comparison draws some controversy and spirited discord! Which car would you take? Go voice your opinion over on our Instagram page @superfastcarnews. And once more a huge thank you to Chris, the owner of the QV, and to Joe, the current pilot of the G80 M3.
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