Alfa Romeo Giulia

A natural beauty...

A car needs to be truly exceptional to turn buyers’ heads away from German premium saloons. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-series are all major players in the market and tend to push others out before they’ve had a chance.I think the new Alfa Romeo Giulia has more than a chance to succeed in this competitive premium saloon sector. The British-made Jaguar XE has already shown how the Germans aren’t invincible, and this new Italian kid on the block is likely to do the same.
Why? Well, for a start the Alfa Romeo Giulia is gorgeous to look at. It’s understatedly lovely – not dolled up in make-up – just naturally beautiful. And that stylish look is certainly lacking from its hard-faced Teutonic rivals. The Giulia even outpaces our British Jaguar XE effort in the aesthetics arena.

But looks get you only so far in life – so does the Alfa deliver? Yes, is the short answer. The four-door booted car is propelled by petrol or diesel powerplants and comes with an automatic gearbox only. That’s right, there is no manual for the British market. Does that matter, though? No, it really doesn’t. But more on that later.

I tested the diesel version of the Giulia – and what a compelling car it is. It’s not as hushed on start-up as an Audi A4 or the Mercedes C-Class, but it’s on par with BMW’s 3-series and Jaguar’s XE. The 2.2-litre oil-burner is quiet as a mouse though, at motorway speeds, delivering a powerful punch whenever you depress the accelerator.

The drive is an undeniably athletic one – and the diesel I drove in 180ps guise pulls muscularly from low revs. In fact, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is so full of grunt that you can’t help but let a smile spread across your face. 

Now, back to that automatic transmission. It makes the drive so effortless, with the eight cogs smoothly changing at the right moment. If you stamp on the gas, kick-down happens rapidly, meaning that the car picks up pace in a heartbeat. This is great for overtakes, or for when you’re feeling adventurous on a quiet country road.

The Giulia is the best when it comes to steering, too – and that’s saying a lot. I always thought BMW had this nailed, but the Alfa surpasses the Bavarian company in this respect. Controversial that I’ve said that? Probably. But this Alfa’s steering changes direction so ably is so accurate and delivers so much feedback, that I’m smitten with the car on this ability alone. 

The Alfa Romeo is no gas guzzler in diesel form, but it’s still not quite as economical as its top competitors, like the Audi A4, which manages mid-70s mpg. That said, 67.3mpg and 109g/km CO2 aren’t bad from the 2.2 Turbo Diesel 180ps, considering it has an auto ‘box.

But a car, even one with a sporty temperament, needs to offer a practical element. And, again, the Giulia doesn’t let you down. Its boot is the same size as its trio of main German adversaries, and larger than the Jaguar XE’s load area. What’s more, you can fold the rear seats down if you tick this options list, and this will give you scope for carrying larger, more awkward-shaped items.

Passenger room is notable, too, with enough space to fit a tall passenger behind another adult. You can get three people across the rear bench, but the car works best for four-up. This is because the centre seat is hard and the transmission tunnel impedes middle-occupant legroom. Most of the Alfa’s rivals are best as four-seaters, though, so the Giulia doesn’t lose out here.

As with the rear, there’s a lot of room for legs and heads in the front, and the Italian saloon’s seats offer lots of support. The chairs are excellent for holding you in place when cornering quickly and are comfy for long stretches of motorway commuting. Additionally, the powered driver’s seat, combined with the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, means getting settled behind the wheel is straight-forward.The Giulia’s switchgear isn’t as solid as the German cars or the Jaguar, but the Alfa Romeo’s dials are easy to read and the infotainment system and sat-nav, controlled via a revolving controller, are down-to-earth.Oh, and not surprisingly, Alfa Romeo hasn’t skimped on safety either. The Giulia scored the maximum five out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
So, all things considered, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is the finest car the Italian automaker has made for years, and it’s more entertaining to get behind the wheel of than any of its challengers. I even predict that the Giulia will become a classic car in the future. But for now, it’s an excellent new car purchase, so if you’re in the market for a premium saloon, I’d go and buy or lease one now.​
Pros ‘n’ Cons
  • Looks √
  • Handling √
  • Room √
  • Safety √
  • Switchgear X

Fast Facts (2.2 Turbo Diesel 180ps TECNICA - as tested)
  • Max speed: 143 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 6.8 secs
  • Combined mpg: 67.3
  • Engine layout: 2143cc four-cylinder diesel turbo
  • Max. power (PS): 180
  • CO2: 109 g/km          
  • Price: £33,235

Written by motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
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