When I started this Blog, I had mentioned that I love Alfa Romeos because I never get tired of driving them. And the main reason for that is that every Alfas I have ever driven have always felt like an “Everyday Man’s Ferrari” that you can commute to work with. Try doing that with your Ferrari and you will become poor very fast by the mounting maintenance bill. The parallel doesn’t lie with how fast Alfas are but how good all the mechanism by the seat of your pants feel, just like Ferraris do. When it comes to blipping the large aluminum paddle shifter through the manual mode of the ZF 8 HP automatic transmission, Alfa Romeo Giulia for me is eerily close to the real F1 system in the Ferraris.
As most of you know, at Scuderia110 we are passionate about all Sports cars, Classic, Vintage, or Modern.
However if we were to pick our favorite Marque, it would have to be Alfa Roneo, mainly because Harri, our head tech at Scuderia110 grew up in Finland loving the vintage as well as modern Alfa Romeos. In addition because Harri has accrued over six years of unparalleled experience as Master Tech and Foreman at local Alfa Romeo and Maserati dealership, he has built up quite a bit of following through out the eastern seaboard as the go to guy for all issues related to the soon to be Cult classics, Alfa Romeo 4C, Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio (QV) editions. It doesn’t hurt to add that I have been collecting and driving Alfa Romeos for close to forty years. The best way to describe our love for Alfa can be best summed up by a 1983 advertisement for Alfa Romeo Gtv6, which basically says that every time you get into an Alfa, you feel as excited as you took it out for a test drive the very first time… another words, we at Scuderia110 never tire of driving and tooling on Alfa Romeos.
Like a loyal Alfisti, I have owned my 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q4 sedan for over four years. Mine is a Ti version with the upgraded leather seats and dashboard and wood trim which brings it to another level of opulence almost nearing the Maserati Ghibli Q4 that my wife drives. More important I was lucky enough to pick this car up with barely a few thousand miles and three of four years remaining on the warranty. But the most important thing is that it has the paddle shifter option as well as rear limited slip option. For an old diehard like me, these are the two most important options I would recommend in the Giulia. Beside the budget constraint, I purposely wanted a Q4 version of the Giulia because as a commuter car, I wanted the sure footedness of an all wheel drive aka Q4. Besides, I can assure you the 280HP in the 2.0 4 Cylinder Turbo engine has more power than you will ever need in almost any traffic condition vs the 505 HP 2.9 V6 Twin Turbo in the fire breathing Quadrifoglio (QV) edition.
The large aluminum paddle shifters are truly functional and cool…. matching the coolness of the Ferrari and Maserati paddles. The paddles are constant in the 9 and 3 o’clock position which for me, makes it easier to blip the paddles. I have never understood the concept of those diminutive paddles about the size of a stick of gum that most marques including BMW and Mercedes put on their cars… almost as if the manufacturers knew that no one would be driving their cars in the manual paddle mode.
Of course the only way to know this is because over the years, I have had opportunity to own and drive 2004 Ferrari 360CS with F1 transmission,2006 Maserati Gransport with Cambiocorsa transmission, and 2008 430 with F1 transmission. All amazing cars but in the end the 430 and GranSport are gone and the 360CS along with my 355 will stay with me for as long as I am alive.
Having had adequate seat time in Ferraris and Maseratis with real single clutch automated manual F1 paddle system, I can tell you that the Alfa Romeo Giulia with the automatic ZF 8HP in the manual mode using the F1 style paddles, truly does an amazing job of mimicking a genuine F1 system. (I have added a link to the Giuliaforum which discusses this very topic).
For me, the secret lies with the rev-matching when selecting the lower gears with the paddle. As a true enthusiast, I have always been a student of perfect heal-and -toe with down shifting in a standard manual transmission. To date I don’t know of any other car which has brake and gas pedal set up from the factory so any Joe enthusiast can heal-and-toe like Sterling Moss or Ayrton Senna than an Alfa Romeo GTV6… it is worth owning a Alfa Gtv6 just to know that you and practically anyone else can heal-and-toe downshift flawlessly.. With most other sports cars, the factory set up just simply is not conducive for easy heal-and-toe.
Well fast forward the F1 systems in Ferraris and Cambiocorsa systems in Maserati, what made them so fun for me is the beautiful blip from the exhaust as the engine was perfectly rev matching with each downshifts… of course you had to feather a little braking to blip down the gears as smoothly as possible. There is definitely an art to smoothly driving the single clutch Ferrari F1 system, and that’s what made it fun.
In the ZF 8HP automatic mated to the Giulia, in the manual mode using those large beautifully crafted aluminum paddle shifters, I feel like I can extract 80 to 90% percent of pleasure of paddle shifting a real Ferrari F1 system… that’s if I feel playful. If I am tired heading back home after hard days work, I simply drive it home like any other commuter car in full automatic mode. I may be biased, but I think the ZF 8 HP is actually as tactile and tangibly rewarding shifting up or down as any new generation Double clutch manual transmission system. Irony is so many manufacturers of all different marques use variation of this same ZF automatic transmission system including BMW. But when I try to use the paddles in the manual mode in my family’s BMW x3 and x5, I simply can’t extract out the same degree of tactile fun as in my Giulia Ti. Go figure… am I just Alfa biased? Maybe… Conversely, all those people driving their Alfa Romeo Giulia or Maserati Ghiblis without a paddle shifter really don’t realize how much fun they are missing out on. Another benefit of practicing smooth downshift with the paddle is that it may help your brake pads last longer.
If you are in a market for a good everyday commuter car that can behave a bit like Dr. Jackyll and Mr Hyde, look no further than Alfa Romeo Giulia Q4 sedan (or even the Maserati Ghibli Q4). I would highly recommend upgrade trim to Ti or Sports package with definitely paddle shift option. In plain English, I wouldn’t buy one without the paddle shifters because that’s what transform this car into something special from myriads of all the midsize 4 door 4 cylinder turbos boringly being driven out there!
Scuderia110 has two factory trained Alfa Romeo and Maserati mechanics in the ways of Harri and Jacob so we can handle all your Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio as well as Maserati needs including pre-purchase inspection and complete warranty and post warranty maintenance.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us: