Alfa Romeo Giulia Review
Alfa Romeo is set to shake up the executive saloon market, with its newest offering; the Giulia– it looks amazing, and drives well too
- Stunning exterior design
- Drives exceptionally well
- Comfortable seats and driving position
- Interior material quality
- Overall interior design
- Prominent engine noise in higher revs
My theory has always been to not expect, therefore be surprised when something is positive. And I have the great pleasure of saying that experiencing the new Alfa Romeo Giulia has been a very, very, pleasant surprise indeed.
It’d probably be going too far to say that I was expecting something rubbish, but it’s safe to say that I wasn’t expecting something this good!
The name ‘Alfa Romeo’ has always come with a slight stigma attached to it, namely for reliability, but can the Giulia saloon change all that? Well, design boss Harald J Wester openly admitted at its launch that it’s its ‘make or break’ car.
So, can the Giulia saloon turn things around for Alfa Romeo?
Well, first of all, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia enters the executive saloon market knowing full well that it’s up against stiff competition from well-known German rivals, but are they this pretty – I think not. Even the Jaguar XE has a run for its money in the design stakes.
On the Road
The Giulia range features one petrol option; a 2.0-litre turbo unit, producing 197bhp and 243lb ft of torque, alongside two diesel options of 148 or 178bhp from a 2.2-litre unit. The hot Quadrifoglio version (powered by a 503bhp 2.9-litre Bi-Turbo engine) sits at the top of the Giulia range. The petrol option uses MultiAir electro-hydraulic valves, while the diesel uses MultiAir injection technology. Each engine is new and made completely of aluminium, saving in weight (kerb weight of 1,374kg) and enabling a much lower positioning in the engine bay, helping with a much lower sleeker ride design, for added aerodynamics. This weight has also been distributed via a 50:50 split ratio, front to back – part of the reason the handling is so good, of which we’ll come onto later.
Our test mule, the 2.2-litre 178bhp diesel, feels powerful enough to be rather a lot of fun on the road. It looks like a sports saloon and an applause is needed for Alfa making it feel like one, too. Mated to an eight-speed automatic (automatic will be the only transmission option available in the UK), the model can reach a 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 143mph.
Predictions are that its ‘hot’ model won’t be as popular in the UK as the likes of the diesel variants or petrol option, however, it will be used as a halo product.
A hybrid / electric variant has yet to be confirmed.
To put it bluntly, it drives really very well. It’s rear wheel drive, but its set-up is on-point allowing for fantastic front-end grip. You are able to flick the back out (if you want), but not to a point where it’s uncontrollable. Yes, I’m still talking about the diesel here.
Our test route took us around Balocco, in Italy, near to the brand’s proving ground. If you’ve ever driven in Italy, before, you’ll know that the roads are not exactly known for being smooth. We came across some of the harshest of potholes (something we’re not exactly shy of in the UK) and found the model to tackle them well, providing a comfortable ride. The suspension is soft in order to soak up the rough terrain of our roads, however the platform is solid, which makes for ideal handling. Steering feels weighty, while being direct, without being uncomfortable on the longest of journeys.
The diesel engine is a little loud in the higher revs and on idle, however if you’re familiar with your Alfas, it’s much quieter than previous models.
I’m not sure if this is a niggle, of sorts, however, most definitely worth mentioning; you’re not able to turn off any of the stability systems, so if you do just want to hoon about in your Giulia it’ll always be a little more reserved than maybe you’d want it to be.
Wind noise is very slight just around the front side windows, and the hazard lights are also triggered too soon upon relatively heavy braking. Despite these very minor niggles, though, this car is wonderful. And if its predicted price point is correct, it could well be a steal at that sort of money.
In the car
Well, unfortunately this is where the Giulia falls down, but only slightly. The interior of the new Giulia is most certainly miles ahead of anything the carmaker has produced in the past, however, it is still quite ‘cheap’. I personally love how basic the interior is. I feel more and more carmakers are opting for a cleaning look to interiors, although, Alfa should’ve really opted for higher quality materials to support that minimalist feel. In terms of technology, it’s all there; satnav, USB port, multimedia functions, but the display really lets it down. I see what it has tried to do; create something that looks fully integrated and part of the design, however giving it about 15 inches of space then placing a 6.5-inch screen to the inside is a little defunct – it’s very low-rent, especially when compared to German rivals such as the BMW 3-Series or Audi A4. Its controls are easy enough, though, despite not being touch screen. The steering wheel (which also dons the start/stop button – we know, how very Ferrari), seats and gearstick are all of good quality, providing a pleasant driving space.
Two official trim levels are available; Giulia and Super. Giulia is the entry level specification featuring 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control (dual zone), while ‘Super’ adds 17-inch alloy wheels, and a contrasting leather interior option. Shape and quality of the seats is good, with the same driving position as the hot model – nothing to fault there, at all. It’s unclear as to whether we will receive the optional Sport and Lusso packs.
Visibility is also excellent all around.
Seating position is fantastic, with the ability to move your seat forward and back, as well as the ability to adjust the rake and height of the steering wheel. Even when a tall person happens to be driving, there is enough room for an equally tall person to sit behind them in the rear seat. The boot is also spacious, with 480-litres, and easily matches up to German rivals.
There is also good arm room and overall comfort when driving, as well as comfortability in the other four seats.
Expectations are that company car buyers will be this model’s biggest buyer, however, it’s really not to be sniffed at by others in the market for a similar thing. It does remain to be seen how. Despite being on sale in other areas of Europe, it’s not due in right-hand drive format in the UK until later this year.
Again, focussing on our 178bhp 2.2-litre diesel test model, economy sits at 67.3mpg (combined), while CO2 output sits at 109g/km. This emission level is low enough for good BIK rating, making it a good choice for company car buyers.
Alfa plans on introducing a number of different variants from this same platform, providing, of course, that this model does well. Alfa boss has stated on record that this model is its last hope or “make or break” car – we’re willing it to do well and see no reason why it wouldn’t.
The quality of materials isn’t up to par with the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s competition, such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, however, it does look better from the outside. The interior space is very pleasing, but even at the top end trim materials are of a cheaper nature than they should be. But, really, how often do you touch your dashboard?!
Despite a few shortcomings; I like this car, a lot. It drives well and it looks fab. Only time will tell in terms of reliability in ownership and residual values.
It has been rumoured that the reason for the delay in production of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia was surrounding vehicle safety, with suggestions that the 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia failed to pass the carmaker’s internal front, side, and rear crash tests. These results then meant costly re-engineering having to be done to ensure that the Giulia was in fact fit for the road. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has dismissed these reports.
Despite the model not yet having been tested for an NCAP rating, the Giulietta hatchback was tested by NCAP as the safest small car, when it was released back in 2010.
Safety features such as forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian recognition, active braking and lane departure warning are all included as standard on all model variants available.