In such a competitive marketplace, the Giulia holds its own and represents Alfa’s best effort in years.
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.
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.
Performance and 0-100kmh time
Alfa Romeo has tried hard to ensure that, on paper at least, the Giulia does not compromise too heavily that it falls off a buyer’s shopping list. The lowliest 100kW 2.2 JTDM diesel compares on price and specification with a BMW 318d, yet will hit 62mph in 8.2 seconds, a whole second quicker than the BMW. The more powerful 140kW diesel is rated at an impressive 7.1 seconds, beating the BMW 320d by half a second.
Petrol cars are equally competitive, with the 150kmh base petrol dispatching the 0-62 sprint in 6.6 seconds, while the 208kW Veloce drops that down to 5.7 seconds. Part of the reason the Alfa Romeo Giulia exhibits impressive acceleration numbers is that relative to the class and its size, kerb weight is surprisingly low. At 1429kg in 2.2-litre diesel spec, the Giulia is usefully lighter than most rivals; even the aluminium bodied Jaguar XE weighs 100kg more than the feather-weight Alfa.
The lack of a six-cylinder diesel option might be considered a limiting factor for those after a bit more punch, but for the performance minded buyer, the fantastic Quadrifoglio with its 375kW was enough to send us into a spin during eCoty. With more than enough performance chops to take on rivals like the M3 and C 63 AMG, the twin-turbo V6 model is a worthwhile addition to your sports sedan shopping list.
Engine and gearbox
Traditionally a strong point for Alfa Romeo, the Giulia has been launched with a range of five engine choices, including the Quadrifoglio super sedan’s twin-turbo V6. Standard Giulias get the option of a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and a 2.2-litre turbo diesel, each in two states of tune.
For private buyers and those less concerned with CO2 numbers, the entry 2.0-litre petrol Giulia produces 148kW, putting power through the rear wheels. The new all-alloy engine features MultiAir technology – hydraulically actuated variable valve timing – along with direct fuel injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger.
Peak torque of 330Nm is available from just 1750rpm and is deployed through an eight-speed torque-converter transmission.
For those wanting a bit more punch, Alfa offers a more powerful 200kW version of the same 2.0-litre engine, although it is only available in high spec Veloce trim.
The diesel options with 96kW and 134kW are split across 2 trim levels. The all-new JTDms are impressively frugal as we’ll get to in a moment, but crucially they feel different to other diesels, offering a more linear torque curve, encouraging a sportier driving style. The flip side of this is that despite the numbers, both engines lack the plateau of torque, which give rivals like the 320d that feeling of effortless shove.
The 8-speed ZF unit on offer is a good one, offering fast concise shifts that are immeasurably improved when summoned on the optional column mounted paddles.
Ride and Handling
On the move, the car is nicely refined and instantly likeable. The £1950 Performance Pack brings variable dampers, paddles behind the steering wheel for manual shifting, and a limited-slip differential. The damper modes are selected via the now-familiar Alfa DNA switch, which also affects other attributes such as the throttle and steering. In its regular setting the suspension gives a ride that’s firm but very well controlled, and there’s a sense that the taut shell is allowing it to get on with the job at hand.
With the optional 18-inch alloy wheels there’s an unyielding quality to the Alfa’s low-speed ride around town that a more generous tyre sidewall may mitigate, but it’s not something that anyone interested in a sports sedan would baulk at, and it’s more comfortable than a Jag XE.
What really gives the Giulia its own personality is its quick steering. It takes a period of acclimatisation, but it has a natural weight and feel and it’s not so extreme as to make the car feel nervous. You soon learn to make small, precise inputs, entirely in keeping with the inherent poise and fine balance of the chassis. It’s the sort of car that encourages a brisk, enthusiastic driving style almost everywhere.