The Balocco Proving Grounds
“One special personal insight on the Balocco tracks was the astonishing stretch of the snowy southern part of the Alps that veiled this place with magnificence.”
“The Stelvio model is as good on a racetrack as on an oversteering site.”
“Giulia, the luxury sedan, still lives by its legacy to be a top performant model in every way.”
“Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio are two driven bullets!”
“Alfa Romeo’s goal was to create powerful and fast vehicles, and trust me, they excelled!” said Patrick.
Exploring. Learning. And most importantly, driving. It was a scorching day spent at the Balocco Proving Grounds with the renowned Alfa Romeo Team who greeted us with a warm welcome at their place in Italy. The Balocco grounds proudly holds the history of Alfa Romeo research and driving; where every technical solution integrated into one of their models is implemented and tested—and all that since 1961. It was during this time where the grounds had started to form with the addition of a course and where some special paving areas were created. The great Formula 1 circuits of Monza and Zandvoort influenced the overall grounds.
The day spent with the AR team was perfect down to the smallest detail; gripping and professional. Our day started with an introduction to the many Alfa Romeo engineers and drivers and a briefing on the activities consisting our journey: I really enjoyed the slides and especially the short videos that were presented to us by the AR team.
We were then divided into four labeled groups based on the famous and successful drivers of Alfa Romeo back in the early 1900s (Achille Varzi, Juan Manuel Fangio, Tazio Nuvolari and Antonio Ascari), where each group was assigned three professional Alfa Romeo drivers who would accompany us during driving sessions for guidance and familiarization of the immense Balocco tracks. One special personal insight on the Balocco tracks was the astonishing stretch of the snowy southern part of the Alps that veiled this place with magnificence.
The four driving sessions were followed by different kinds of sessions hosted by one of Alfa Romeo’s designers and developers to explain to us the different innovative new technologies that rendered the amazing driving experience of an Alfa Romeo model. The design was worked up until the last detail and there’s been loads of research and development of new assets that will make an inevitable difference in the sensation. I was amazed by the staggering details that AR exposed to us in the change that would make up the Alfa Romeo experience. The tires used for each AR model, in partnership with Pirelli, are tires specially tailored, specifically designed and one of a kind, for the best performance output.
Our journey at the AR Balocco Proving Grounds was accompanied by our lunch at the Cascina Bella Luigina, with a versatile buffet that compromised savory and sweet dishes that reflected the Italian cuisine in every possible way.
Insight and vision
An Alfa Romeo model is a piece of art by itself. It embodies an unmistakable combination of elegance and sportiness inside and out. Yet the main embodiment of what makes an Alfa Romeo different than any other good-looking and sporty model is a feature that cannot be seen by eye, nor touched by hand: it is felt by the driver, the driver’s self only who sits at the heart of this revolutionary machine. Most of us are used to hosting the feelings of thrills during the driving experience itself. Yet, the core element that encompasses the one felt from an Alfa Romeo car is beyond reproach.
The goosebumps start with the first few steps as you make your way to the car: the elegant body design calls for you, following the touch of the door handle up until the comforting seat that welcomes you inside the machine of emotions. Then drops the hot stuff, as you turn on the soul engine, the familiarization of the interior happens as swift as a gust of wind: it only takes a moment to delve into the driving atmosphere. At the end, as I was waiting for the call to hit the racetrack, I had become one with the machine, ready to bring out its full potential with one purpose—to give it power. Alfa Romeo’s goal was to create powerful and fast vehicles, and trust me, they excelled!
The drive with Giulia and Stelvio
Giulia – The elegant
If you want to have a fun and an amazing time, your number one choice is the superb and elegant Giulia, the four-door mid-size sedan. The luxury sedan still lives by its legacy to be a top performant model in every way. Even its name compels me! You have probably read of the AR unique experience that I mentioned earlier, with all the amazing features that can embody this model, yet the first impression that Giulia bestowed upon me was the undeniable and unquestionable feeling of full control over the car. For me, Giulia has reshaped the meaning of control: the steering is one of a kind, accurate and something I had never felt before.
The Giulia model carries three noticeable upgrades to its trim: the core and performance pack trims which hold a four-cylinder engine and the legendary, end-content Quadrifoglio trim which holds the 2.9-liter six-cylinder engine twin-turbocharged, delivering 510 horsepower.
The performance pack is a good call from AR to suit demands when the affordable and sporty looks of Giulia are needed. You can customize your Giulia to suit your likings from the rims to the exhausts and the materials utilized inside (such as the carbon fiber and even the stitching); and the cherry on top is a gorgeous spoiler for the ultimate in sportiness.
Stelvio – The titan’s grip
If you seek the AR driving experience on higher grounds, then the latest addition to the Alfa Romeo models, Stelvio, will stupefy you in every possible way. Alfa Romeo’s first ever compact luxury crossover is a masterpiece, combining the strength and performance of an SUV and the sporty luxury look of an Alfa Romeo model. Reinforced by a four-wheel drive system, the Stelvio model is as good on a racetrack as on an oversteering site.
The outer look is extremely attractive, as far as its shape, exhausts, rims and the AR signature front grill are concerned. The running daytime LEDs are quite different from the Giulia’s in that they are stretched all over the headlight. The interior is tailored to the smallest details with the stitching and luxury materials upon request or trim.
Just like the Giulia model, the Stelvio model comes in different trims: the base trim which holds the four-cylinder engine and the Quadrifoglio trim, which holds the 2.9-liter six-cylinder twin-turbocharged engine, delivering 510 horsepower.
The Stelvio model is one amazing machine, with extremely comfortable seats detailed with the smallest designs up to stitches and color, with that amazing feeling of security even with fast engines and at high speed. I did not imagine such an amazing steering on a crossover: accuracy, smoothness and easiness.
The Quadrifoglio experience
If there is one car that never bores you, it is definitely either the Giulia Quadrifoglio or the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which I would introduce as two driven bullets. Equipped with double exhausts at every side, with bigger rims and sportier brakes and suspensions, the Quadrifoglio calls upon raw thirsting power of 510 horsepower at a never-ending rate. That last touch of luxury and cut weight-reduction is finished with the usage of carbon fiber material on the seats, the roof, the spoiler and even some interior parts.
There is one significant pattern that identifies a Quadrifoglio from the other trims. Any driver who owns a Quadrifoglio is considered lucky—so every Quadrifoglio model should be embroidered with a green four-leaf clover on both sides to show respect!