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Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

Find out more about the Alfa Romeo Giulia in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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8
Out of 10
Average Price £35,623
Model Review

Although the Giulia name was used way back in the 1960s and 70s, this new model from Alfa Romeo brings the compact saloon back in a – let’s be fair – gorgeous-looking body.

In an attempt to unseat – or at least unsettle – the German dominance in the executive saloon market, the Giulia offers a new angle on the market as it combines great design, fun driving and efficient engines – so basically combining all the good bits from everyone else.

Coming with four trim options – Giulia, Super, Speciale and Veloce – there are plenty of choices to be made in how you want your Giulia to be. If you want that little extra oomph to take on the likes of the BMW M3 and Audi S4, you can buy the Quadrifoglio edition, which is now arguably one of the best drivers’ cars on sale.

Diesel and petrol engines are available to you to suit your style of driving, but you can only have an eight-speed automatic transmission, which will annoy a few people. But it’s not an issue as the auto does well pretty much everywhere.

Value for money

Okay let’s start with the good news – you get plenty of good equipment from the base Giulia spec.

You get the Alfa Connect infotainment system with a 6.5-inch screen, DAB Radio and Bluetooth, multi-functional leather steering wheel, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, Start&Stop system, eight-speed automatic gearbox, dusk sensor and ambient LED lighting.

That’s a good amount of accessories considering the size and market the car is in.

Now the bad news – but this comes in two forms. One, the starting price is £29,875 which is at the higher end of the executive saloon market, and two, that is more than £3,000 than the base spec BMW 3 Series.

The 3 Series in SE spec does lack some of the technological features that the Giulia gets, but consider the BMW’s reputation, reliability and high standards, and you may be drawn more towards the Beemer than the new kid on the block Alfa. But what the Alfa may lack in the 3 Series’ affordability it makes up for in character and driving fun – and if we haven’t mentioned it before the excellent design.

 

Looks and image

The main thing to say about how the Giulia looks is that it is so stylish and different from the rather standard looking German models, you could justify buying it because of that reason alone.

The signature Alfa grille, wide front inlets and beautifully sculptured lights are just the start, as the flowing roof line and short overhangs make this a tasty proposition.

The rather superb Quadriofoglio (QV) version is even sportier-looking and quite simply, a masterpiece. Unless you go for a high spec model, the interior feel and finish may leave a bit to be desired, with the more refined results in similar rivals making the Giulia feel less premium.

If you’re looking for a well-balanced, great-to-drive executive saloon, look no further – it really is that good. The rear-wheel drive setup helps this massively and makes it feel sporty to drive in all but the ‘Advanced Efficiency’ settings in Alfa’s DNA driving modes.

In Normal and Dynamic modes though, the Giulia is a stand-out model in the executive saloon segment. With the 50:50 weight distribution, excellently engineered suspension – that doesn’t even need the active dampers you get in the QV model – and direct steering, you feel involved and know from then-on that this is how a saloon should be set up.

The QV goes even further by adding torque vectoring for a crisper turn-in, a Race mode to make it even sharper and high levels of grip to make it an absolute riot.

The surprising feature of the Giulia is its compliant suspension, as it is the most dynamic executive saloon but is also perfectly comfortable on bumpy UK roads. You will feel potholes in the cabin but the well-engineered suspension manages to isolate it in its respective corner.

Yes, overall it feels a bit firm – which will push people away – but it really is impressive considering how dynamic it is. The driving position is good as you sit reasonably low down and the seats are suitably sporty in shape so you feel stable and secure. The interior space is of a good size with four able to sit in perfect comfort, although the fifth ‘seat’ is more of a cosmetic feature as there is next to no legroom due to the transmission tunnel.

Space and practicality

As it has one of the longest wheelbases in the class, the Giulia has plenty of passenger space and although some rivals are marginally larger, the Giulia is packaged well enough and actually offers more usable space.

Boot space is exactly the same as its main rival, the BMW 3 Series, at 480 litres, but due to the body shape the boot lip is higher and the opening is smaller so access is not as good as it could be. Storage spaces inside are less numerous also, but you still get a well-sized glovebox and front-door storage bins.

Safety-wise the Giulia stacks up well as it gets a five-star rating from Euro NCAP and rates well in the main categories. An impressive adult occupant score of 98 per cent is the highlight of the bunch, with child occupant safety at 81 per cent, a score of 69 per cent for pedestrians and 60 per cent for safety assist.

As standard you get autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors and airbags with all Giulias, while the driving assistance plus pack adds blind spot detection, automatic high beam system and a rear view camera.

For families looking for a stylish, practical and safe saloon, this could be perfect for them as you do get Isofix points on two of the rear seats as well as the aforementioned safety systems, so the only thing that may concern is the sometimes firm suspension. Admittedly the Giulia lacks an estate version that could make this even more attractive for families, but it does well enough as a saloon model for size and practicality.

 

Engines

There are two engines on offer with two states of tune each – a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 200bhp and 280bhp units, and a 2.2-litre turbo diesel with 150bhp and 180bhp options. The super-saloon QV model comes with a 2.9-litre turbocharged petrol that produces a staggering 510bhp and goes like a rocket ship.

The diesel engines will attract customers needing to travel long distances due to its higher fuel efficiency over the petrol models and will pull well, but they can both feel and sound grumbly. The petrol units are less efficient and will cause you to go to the pump more, but the sound it makes, the smoothness of delivery and high-revving nature will mean it is more fun to have around.

If you want to make the most of your Giulia, swallow the cost and go for the petrol options. All engines only come with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The diesel engines will attract customers needing to travel long distances due to its higher fuel efficiency over the petrol models and will pull well, but they can both feel and sound grumbly.

The petrol units are less efficient and will cause you to go to the pump more, but the sound it makes, the smoothness of delivery and high-revving nature will mean it is more fun to have around. If you want to make the most of your Giulia, swallow the cost and go for the petrol options. All engines only come with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

 

Running costs

As you would expect, the diesel models are the best for day-to-day running thanks to their improved mpg of 67, emissions of 109g/km and lower insurance groups (22 to 27). That also means a road tax payment of £140 for the first year, which is the best in the line-up. But considering the power output and performance, the base 2.0-litre petrol is surprisingly useful with 47mpg and insurance group 24, but that is slightly offset by a first year road tax cost of £200.

The Veloce model with the 280bhp 2.0-litre petrol also does well for fuel efficiency and insurance, but again emissions let the side down. The Quadrifoglio model has road tax at £800 for the first year and not exceptional fuel economy, so unless you can swallow the cost it’s best looking at the less powerful models.

Things to look out for

As the Giulia is still in its infancy, there is little to report on the reliability front as of yet, but in a couple of years you will have a better idea of how it holds up – and it needs to if it’s to compete with the German rivals.

Rivals

What the Alfa is up against is some of the best cars on the road today. The BMW 3 Series, Audi’s A4, the Mercedes C-Class and the Jaguar XE are all supremely good cars and make the executive saloon segment one of the most difficult to choose from.

The likeliest model it can be compared to is the Jaguar as it stands out more than the German models and is much more fun to drive than many of them. Other models in a similar price range are the Infiniti Q50 and the Lexus IS, which don’t quite cut the same sort of mustard as the Giulia but are similarly priced.

Depreciation warning

It is – again – a bit early to say how the Giulia will do, but reports have said it can be on par or better than comparative BMW 3 Series models, which would be a success for the Italian brand. The Giulia is better looking and more fun to drive, so when three years come and go, this may be an excellent used car to get your mits on.

Which Giulia to Pick

Trims Explained

As to get the right Giulia for you, Alfa Romeo offer it in four trim levels and the top spec Quadrifoglio edition, which is in its own category away from the main model.

Giulia

For the base Giulia spec, Alfa fits five-spoke 16-inch alloys, Alfa’s Connect infotainment system with 6.5-inch screen and selector dial, eight-speaker audio system, DAB Radio, USB/Aux connection with Bluetooth, Alfa DNA drive selector, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, autonomous braking and automatic dual-zone climate control. The black cloth seats are six-way adjustable in the front and you also get a multifunctional leather steering wheel and ambient LED lighting.

The starting price for the base Giulia spec is £29,875 and with it you can only get the 2.0-litre 200bhp turbo petrol.

Super

With the Super trim, the screen is upgraded to an 8.8-inch version with the addition of satellite navigation as well as a 7-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster. You also get 17-inch 10-spoke alloys and the choice of three power choices. There isn’t much added in this spec, but this is likely to be the most popular version due to the option of diesel engines.

Super models start from £31,575.

Speciale

The Speciale model only comes with one power option – the 2.2-litre 180bhp diesel – and again the additions aren’t that excessive, but cosmetically this could be the best looking of the lot. This is due to the 18-inch alloy wheels and extra chrome detailing, with sports leather seats completing the look. You also get 25-Watt Bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights.

Speciale models start from £35,515.

Veloce

As the top spec for standard Giulia models, the Veloce is the sportiest of the regular line-up with sporty front and rear bumpers, aluminium sports pedals, an upgraded braking system, aluminium shift paddles, 40/20/40 split rear seats and black brake calipers.

This is also the only Giulia to come with the top-end 280bhp petrol and the Veloce has a starting price of £38,260.

Quadrifoglio

For the ultimate Giulia, Alfa Romeo make the Quadrifoglio version.

What to look out for

  1. Best looking saloon on the market
  2. Economic range of engines
  3. Diesels can feel unrefined
  4. Good trim options
  5. Can feel less refined than German rivals
  6. Nothing wrong with reliability – yet
  7. Competitive sector
  8. Reasonable running costs
  9. Good practicality
  10. The Quadrifoglio

Review Rating

"As the successor to the 159, the Alfa Romeo Giulia has quite a job on its hands.... Read More"