Alfa Romeo Giulia review - can Alfa Romeo compete with the class best?

evo staff
3 Apr 2017

An impressive offering surrounded by similarly impressive rivals, the Giulia is Alfa's best effort in years

Evo Rating: 
Keen engines, enjoyable handling
Firm low-speed ride, option packs soon add up

There has been much said about the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, but whereas most of the attention has been levelled at the M3-rivalling Quadifoglio, the cooking Giulia models are if anything even more important, as these are the cars that need to appeal to a far wider audience.

Launching with a suite of four turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia is finally adding an Italian option to the compact executive market, previously dominated by the big German manufacturers and occasionally infiltrated by Jaguar and the Japanese pair Lexus and Infiniti.

>Click here to read our drive of the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV

As compact executive rivals are stronger than ever in their latest iterations, Alfa Romeo can no longer afford to merely get by with recycled platforms and hand-me-down engines. The Giulia's platform is all new (and shared with another new volume model, the Stelvio SUV), its engines freshly developed for this car, and it sends its power, like the majority of cars in this class, to the rear wheels.

Fittingly, Alfa Romeo's effort has paid off - and whether Quadrifoglio or not, this is one of the best cars the company has produced in a very long time. While it lacks polish in places, its talented chassis, strong engines, light weight and improved quality all make this a very competitive offering.

Alfa Romeo Giulia in detail

> Performance and 0-62mph time - Performance figures from the Giulia’s new engines sit right at the top of the class, trading blows with the benchmark BMW 3-series on paper and on the road.

> Engine and gearbox - Alfa Romeo offers five engine choices including the hot-rod QV. Cooking Giulias are all four-cylinder motivated, with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel each available in two states of tune.

> Ride and Handling - The Giulia's all-new rear drive chassis make is a far more dynamically tempting proposition. No longer the pretty but slightly inept executive option, Alfa Romeo is giving BMW and Jaguar a run as the new dynamic champion.

> MPG and running costs - The diesels each have an on-paper rating of 67.3mpg, so although not class leading, they're still good enough to not be a problem to company car buyers.

> Interior and tech - Alfa Romeo has launched an all-new infotainment system in the Giulia, but despite taking inspiration from the best German systems, it does fall short of the best in class.

> Design - One of the rather more limited talents of the old 159, the Giulia is perhaps not as pretty or well detailed as its predecessor, but the look is sleek and crucially different to the German aristocracy.  

Prices, specs and rivals 

Alfa Romeo is aiming squarely at the premium players with the Giulia, so pricing and specs have been set to rival the class benchmarks. The Giulia kicks off at just under £30,000 for an entry-level 197bhp 2.0-litre petrol model. If you want the 148bhp diesel however, one must upgrade to the Super trim level, which puts the price up to just under £32k. 

Due to the entry level car’s petrol-only status, the Super is expected to make up a bulk of UK sales, with it bringing standard equipment like 17-inch alloys, part leather seats, the larger 8.8-inch infotainment system with embedded sat nav, and active safety kit like lane departure warning and forward collision warning.

The 188bhp diesel is a reasonable £1200 more in the same trim level, but is also available in higher spec Speciale trim for around £35,000. The extra cash will grant you full leather seats, larger 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, but big-ticket items like high-end hi-fi and adaptive suspension are only accessible via the options list.

Sitting atop the standard Giulia range is the petrol-only Veloce, boasting a 272bhp power output and Quadrifoglio-lite styling. Disappointingly, one will still need to option the ‘performance pack’ to get the lovely Ferrari style column-mounted paddle shifters behind the steering wheel throughout the range.

In such a crowded market, the Giulia is definitely distinctive against more pragmatic German rivals, but steep pricing paired with even steeper depreciation does take off some of the sheen. If distinctiveness is an important virtue for you though, the Alfa Romeo Giulia does make a tempting proposition.

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