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Alfa Romeo Giulia QV vs BMW M3: super saloon showdown

October 15, 2015 by

It’s been a long time coming, but Alfa Romeo is finally back in the sports saloon game with the new Giulia. The Quadrifoglio Verde (green cloverleaf) is the high performance version and the brand claims it can compete on a level footing with the very finest sports saloons.

Perhaps its greatest rival is the BMW M3. Spend some time behind the wheel, and it becomes apparent just how faultless it is. It’s the car the Giulia has to beat, but can it deliver? We’ve compared the two to see how they measure up against one another.

If you can’t wait for the Alfa Romeo, put the BMW M3 in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save.

Alfa Romeo Giulia vs BMW M3 styling

While both super saloons have drama and presence, the formula for achieving the transformation from humble compact executive to steroidal four-door supercar for both is surprisingly similar. Add some large alloy wheels, a more aggressive front bumper and a subtle bootlid spoiler with four exhausts to round things off around the back.

Look closer though, and both cars have some gorgeous details which really set them apart from the lesser models of their respective ranges. The Alfa Romeo, for example, features active aerodynamics at the front – adjusting the front splitter according to cornering conditions and cooling requirements. The splitter itself is made from carbon fibre along with the rear lip spoiler. A subtle four-leaf clover badge on each of the front wings adds the final hint that this is no ordinary Giulia.

The BMW has its fair share of carbon, too. The whole roof is made from the stuff, shaving 5kg from the overall weight, and lowering its centre of gravity. The door mirrors are delicately sculpted for aerodynamic efficiency and, should you choose the optional carbon ceramic brakes, the calipers are painted gold.

Alfa Romeo Giulia vs BMW M3 interior

Like the exterior, the Giulia’s cabin is swoopy and contemporary. Some details – such as the deeply cowled instruments and flashes of chrome – give a nod to Alfa Romeos of the past, while others – such as the touchscreen infotainment system and starter button located on the steering wheel – bring things right up to date. The Quadrifoglio benefits from one or two flashes of carbon fibre and some deeply sculpted sports seats to make it feel that little bit more special than standard versions.

Sit inside the M3 and the standard of the materials used is clearly very high. All the major controls are logically laid out, and the dials are easy to read. The only obvious upgrades over the regular 3 Series are the gorgeous steering wheel and some more purposeful sports seats – buyers loved the regular car’s interior so much that there wasn’t much need to alter anything else.

Alfa Romeo Giulia vs BMW M3 driving

While official weight figures are yet to be released, it’s believed the Giulia will tip the scales at around 1,500kg – at least 20kg lighter than the M3. This will be achieved through the use of lightweight materials – suspension components made largely of aluminium, and carbon fibre for body panels and some drivetrain components. Standard carbon ceramic brakes are not just lighter than regular steel items, but promises enormous stopping power.

Alfa Romeo says the steering will be very fast, with few turns from lock-to-lock helping it feel agile through corners. Regular versions of the Giulia will send their power to the rear wheels but the Quadrifoglio Verde will be four-wheel drive, making that low weight even more impressive.

Like the Giulia, the M3’s suspension is constructed from aluminium. A perfect 50:50 weight distribution gives it incredible balance through the corners, while electronically adjustable dampers can be tweaked by the driver in order to get the most out of the conditions. If there is one criticism testers mention, it’s that the electrically-assisted power steering lacks feel, though it still is very accurate.

Alfa Romeo Giulia vs BMW M3 engines

Alfa Romeos in days gone by have been loved for their revvy, powerful and characterful engines, and the Giulia looks set to continue the tradition. A 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 has been developed with the help of a little Ferrari know-how, and it produces a whopping 503hp – 78 more than the M3. The engine’s block is made entirely from aluminium, helping to save weight.

Combined with the four-wheel-drive system and light weight, the Giulia is claimed to reach 62mph from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds. That makes it one of the fastest accelerating saloon cars in the world.

The BMW isn’t exactly short on poke, though. It’ll reach 62mph from rest in 4.1 seconds when equipped with the optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and head on to an electronically-limited 155mph top speed. Some critics would like the engine to sound better though, claiming that, compared to previous M3s, the current car’s twin-turbo six-cylinder unit sounds a little flat. Judging by the early clips we’ve heard of the Giulia, that isn’t going to be an issue for the Italian…

Alfa Romeo Giulia vs BMW M3 value for money

Official prices for the Giulia are yet to be announced, but it’s likely to be priced very similarly to the M3, which costs from £56,500. Not that it’s a priority for cars such as these, but Alfa Romeo will have to work hard to match the 32.1mpg figure BMW claims the M3 can achieve.

Alfa Romeo Giulia vs BMW M3 verdict

Anyone searching for the ultimate sports saloon would have a difficult task finding something with greater all-round depth of abilities than the BMW M3.

The one thing some find it wanting for is a little character – something that the Alfa Romeo Giulia is set to have by the bucket load. If it’s able to get close to matching the talents of the M3 on the road, it might just be able to give BMW buyers a genuinely tempting alternative.

What next?

While we wait for the Alfa Romeo’s release, put the BMW M3 in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page to see our latest offers or use our car chooser for help picking your next car.