Adding a dash of Italian glamour to the otherwise formulaic executive saloon segment, the Alfa Romeo Giulia plays to the brand’s sporting traditions with slinky styling, sporty handling and a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic on all models.
The diesel Giulia would seem the obvious choice for those concerned by running costs but, at 2.2 litres, it’s a bigger engine than those in most rivals, putting it on the back foot for emissions and fuel consumption. Available in two states of power, the CO2 emissions are the same in both cases.
It’s a similar story with the two versions of the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, with little cost in terms of CO2 or combined fuel consumption between the two variants. This is good news of sorts, meaning you can have the sporty 280 horsepower Veloce version without worrying it’ll cost you more to run, though it is of course more expensive to buy.
The Giulia is conspicuously lacking in any hybrid options, where alternatives such as the Volvo S60, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series BMW 3 Series all feature plug-in versions within their line-ups.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Alfa Romeo Giulia
Accepted wisdom has it you buy an Alfa Romeo with your heart but your head may come to regret it. Things have improved considerably for the brand since the introduction of the Giulia and the related Stelvio crossover, with owners reporting high satisfaction levels. That’s not too surprising, given Alfa Romeo customers tend to be enthusiasts for the brand and proud to fly the flag. Alfa Romeo’s relatively small sales make direct comparisons with rival brands difficult but, anecdotally, things seem to be moving in the right direction.
All new Alfa Romeos come with a standard three-year warranty, two years of which is manufacturer supported with a further 12 months through the dealer and offering full protection from faults or defects. Paintwork is also covered for faults, defects or manufacturing errors for three years, supported by an eight-year anti-perforation warranty. Three years of free roadside assistance is also included, with recovery to the nearest authorised retailer and assistance with onward travel if the issue can’t be fixed on the spot.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Alfa Romeo Giulia
Active safety and semi-autonomous driver aids are major additions for this updated Alfa Romeo Giulia, and are available with the cost-option Driver Assistance Package Plus. You also get Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Brake, which works with Alfa Romeo’s Integrated Brake System in coordination with the stability control.
The previously passive Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring now have active steering interventions when necessary, these functions included as part of the semi-autonomous Traffic Jam Assist and Highway Assist that use radar control to maintain speed, distance to the vehicle in front and lane position for a safer and more relaxing drive, even when it’s busy. Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Speed Control are also available.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Alfa Romeo Giulia
Like most in the sector the Giulia looks after those seated in the front but is a little cramped in the back. This is a compromise most buyers of sporting saloons will accept and driver and front-seat passenger are well looked after in a cabin benefitting from a significant upgrade in quality.
This was needed, after many early reviews picked up on the flimsy switchgear and lacklustre materials compared with the premium rivals the Giulia is pitched against. Alfa Romeo has responded, with higher quality touchpoints such as leather trim for the gear selector and a more positive, high quality feel for commonly used interfaces like infotainment controls. The steering wheel has been reshaped and there are new trim lines, leathers and woods to choose from too, offering a distinct choice between traditional luxury in the Lusso Ti and sportier vibe of the Sprint and Veloce versions.
Fundamentally, the Giulia seeks to remind you of the brand’s sporting heritage and feels decidedly driver-focused, with the option to adopt a reclined, low-slung seating position with the wheel pulled close to your chest. Your rear seat passengers won’t thank you but, thanks to the supercar-style shifter paddles and classic cowled instruments, the Giulia feels distinctly sporty. Likewise with the chassis set-up, which offers an expertly judged balance between sharp handling and comfort, proving these qualities needn’t be mutually exclusive.
The responsive steering and rear-wheel drive balance reward the driver but passengers will also be satisfied at the suspension’s ability to swallow bumps. On cars with the optional Alfa Active suspension you can opt for Dynamic mode but ‘decouple’ the dampers back to their softer setting, a trick Alfa Romeo has borrowed from Ferrari and offers a perfect compromise for bumpy backroads.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo has used this range refresh to further improve its offering and the Giulia offers impressive standard features. Infotainment has been significantly upgraded and the TomTom-based navigation gains improved graphics and is standard on all models, the 8.8-inch central screen now offering the option of touchscreen control. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard if you prefer to run things through your phone instead, revised connected services offering additional support even when you are away from your car.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Alfa Romeo Giulia
Engine options for this updated Alfa Romeo Giulia remain as before, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol available with 200 horsepower or, for the Veloce version only, 280 horsepower. The 2.2-litre diesel is available with 160 horsepower in the lower trim levels or 190 horsepower as you progress up the range. Torque output is the same on both diesels. All versions drive the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, higher-spec versions fitted with supercar style aluminium shifter paddles for manual control.
Alfa Romeo also offers a fire-breathing 503 horsepower Quadrifoglio version but considers this a distinct model, separate from the rest of the Giulia range.
A three-step rotary D.N.A. switch on all models offers a selection of driving modes that adjust the throttle response, safety systems and other settings (according to options) according to your preferences and the road conditions. Selecting A for Active Efficiency is ideal for long-distance motorway travel, reducing response to the accelerator for a more relaxed mood. The default Normal setting is, as the name suggests, the all-round mode while Dynamic heightens response for a sportier feel. If fitted this also selects the stiffer setting for the Alfa Active adjustable suspension.
The diesels offer respectable (if not class leading) emissions and fuel economy that will be popular with fleet buyers while the mid-range torque makes them feel stronger and more flexible on the road. They’re not especially refined though, making the smoother 200 horsepower petrol the more soothing choice, even if it does feel somewhat underpowered in such a sporty looking car. The flagship 280 horsepower Veloce version, meanwhile, fully lives up to the Giulia’s heritage and is the best of both worlds, the stirring performance delivered with relatively little penalty in emissions or economy.