If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… or so it goes.
And try they did.
At one time or another, most car manufacturers have taken a direct shot at BMW in an effort to dethrone its 3 series sedan, especially the high performance M3 variant.
Not an easy task as many have tried and failed—time and time again. It’s difficult to keep up with the Bavarians who basically invented this category when they decided to turn their E30 3 series (1982-1991) into a racecar, and enter it into Group A Touring Car racing. And as it goes with homologation specials, BMW released a limited number of the newly named M3 into the market and buyers soon discovered they had something rather special here.
While it wasn’t the first M car (that honour goes to the exotic M1) this was the car that put M on the map, and turned it into the roaring success it is today.
Even though the M3 has grown (a lot) over the years, it has mostly stayed true to its roots, offering a relatively lightweight chassis and a powerful high revving engine that although turbocharged now, still manages to retain the feel of natural aspiration.
And while it might not be the featherweight it once was, the current generation M3 can comfortably haul 3 of your lucky friends and all their gear up to Tremblant for a fun-filled weekend and still hang with those pesky 911s and Corvettes at the track on Monday.
Just take a look at the specs—the 3 litre straight six that BMW does so well is fitted with two quick spooling turbos that help it produce 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, while a smattering of weight saving features like a carbon driveshaft and roof help make it the lightest car in its class, and still one of the quickest around a ring.
But now, there is a new player in town and what a player indeed. If anyone should try—it’s these guys. I’m talking about Alfa Romeo. A brand whose racing pedigree stretches back to the very beginning, winning historic races like the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia multiple times in the 20’s and 30’s.
So definitely no stranger to going fast, and with companies like Ferrari to consult with, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio seems like a sure thing on paper.
It has an atom bomb of an engine (basically a Ferrari California’s V8 with two cylinders lopped off) mated to a chassis that while not as svelte as an M3’s, is more than made up for in the power department. The tiny 2.9 litre V6 makes a fire-breathing 505hp and an equally impressive 443 lb-ft of torque, capable of propelling the sedan to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds.
But these aren’t drag racers, which means power isn’t everything.
So how does it do when pitted against the reining champ?
There really is no one better than someone like Top Gear’s Chris Harris to answer this question, and no better place than the track, the Bimmer’s natural habitat.
And answer it he does, in his usual no-holds-barred drift everywhere fashion.