Back in the day I owned a 1984 Alfasud Ti which had the most powerful engine available, a 1.5 liter 4 cylinder boxer engine with two, twin-choke carburetors. Power through the front wheels was a mighty 105 hp driven through a 5 speed manual gearbox. 0-60 was dispatched in 10.1 seconds. I bought it used and I loved that car, despite it suffering from a couple of rust spots on the sills and fenders. It was a delight to drive, that little boxer engine fizzing, pin sharp handling and great looks. Sadly of the million produced there are only a handful still running.
Fast forward to 2018 and Alfa has a car in the US again and it’s a very good one. Firstly it looks stunning with its striking grille, piercing headlights and smooth flowing lines, making it stand out from the plethora of Audis and BMW sedans ………and that is exactly what it’s here for. Our tester was an Alfa Romeo Giulia TI AWD model in Silverstone Gray, with a black leather interior. The sole engine in the US, apart from the monstrous 505 hp Quadrifoglio, is a turbocharged 2.0 liter four with 280 hp @ 5200 rpm and 306 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm more than its rivals at BMW, Mercedes and Audi. All Giulias have an eight-speed automatic gearbox and in our tester huge aluminum paddle shifters attached to the steering column and NOT the wheel…Hallelujah!
That said we needed to prove that and headed out for some technically challenging roads.
The steering plays the single biggest part in the driving experience, with only 2.2 turns to lock, it’s razor sharp, in fact when I first set off I was turning the wheel too much, it’s almost too quick. It may not have the most feel but it is incredibly accurate which means you never fail to place the Giulia exactly where you want it.
Since my tester was AWD I expected the car to under steer but oh no this car is nothing short of sensational. Just East of San Diego is a very technical piece of road, with narrow tight turns, dips and bumps, it’s not a road for every car. The Giulia never skipped a beat, the chassis is tremendous, you can feel the car pivoting on it’s axis, with no under steer, even in the tightest of bends, all without effort.
The steering doesn’t weight up in corners or under power…..why can’t all cars be like this? Brakes are the drive by wire variety, so no physical connection between your foot and the calipers, which I’m OK with as long as they work………these do and apart from being a little grabby at slower speeds provide plenty of stopping power. All this sportiness hasn’t compromised ride quality which is excellent even in Dynamic mode.
The fact that our car was wearing all season run flats just showed how well this car performs. Given the choice I would opt for summer rubber and maybe go up a tire size on the 18 inch rims. I’ll call AAA if I get a flat, which reminds me I managed to get 2 screws in the right rear tire, in the tread luckily, so I was able to get it repaired.
In planning for our acceleration testing we realized there is no way to turn off the traction control which meant we couldn’t use launch control…..or could we. After a botched attempt using the paddles in Dynamic mode I decided to try a launch in auto with the brake pressed and I watched the revs rise to around 3,500 before releasing the pedal. After 2 attempts we were able to launch from 0-60 in 5.06 seconds, a tad faster than Alfa quotes and faster than its rivals from Germany.
The interior is very tastefully designed and very Italian, meaning the paddle shifters obscure the turn signal stalks and the infotainment system is somewhat difficult to operate. The screen however is a work of art, beautifully integrated into the dash instead of looking like someone stuck an Ipad on there. As is the steering wheel which houses the engine starter button that wouldn’t look out of place in a Ferrari. The front sports seats are super supportive with plenty of side bolstering……..those that may have eaten too much pasta may find them a tad tight, but I think they are perfect. General quality is good, materials are mostly soft plastics and everything is where it should be.
The Alfa Giulia has one of the longer wheelbases in its class, which means there’s a decent amount of rear legroom. There’s plenty of space up front, but the passengers in the back get more than enough space and 2 huge vents to keep them cool.
Our tester came in at just under $50K and had plenty of goodies including the Sport Package which offers, Paddle Shifters and the very good leather Sport Seats. I’ve been on the Alfa site to build my ideal Giulia, here it is, Giulia Ti Sport, Rosso Red, 19 inch 5 hole wheels and Sport Performance Package….DONE.
So can the Alfa Giulia beat the Germans at their own game? Short answer is yes. It’s a sedan that’s been created specifically to counter the usual boring Teutonic offerings, it stands out, it has soul, it’s sweet tempered, and it’s simply a lovely drive.
Alfa Romeo Giulia AWD NUMBERS
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-engine, AWD, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan|
|PRICE AS TESTED:||$49,340|
|ENGINE TYPE:||2.0 turbocharged and intercooled SOHC 16-valve inline-4|
|POWER:||280 hp @ 5200 rpm|
|TORQUE:||306 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode|
|ZERO to 60 mph:||5.06 sec|
|TOP SPEED:||149 mph|
|BRAKING 70-0 mph:||186 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT:||3,373 lb|
|OUR OBSERVED:||23 mpg|
|PROS:||Sublime handling, razor sharp steering, stunning to look at|
|CONS:||No Manual, fiddly entertainment system|