Alfa Romeo’s resurgent return to the compact executive class.

Introduction

This is Alfa Romeo’s resurgent return to the compact executive class. It’s called the Giulia and it competes alongside some of the most competent, established names in the business – namely, the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Jaguar XE. What the Italian saloon hopes to add to this sector is a little visual flair, but then Alfas of the recent past have always been pretty – yet they’ve also, for the most part, been pretty mediocre as cars. The Giulia should change all that, though, as there’s plenty of substance to go with its undoubted style. The UK range is made up entirely of rear-wheel drive four-door saloons equipped with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and the only choices to make are which engine you want, and which trim.

 

Body Style: Saloon                Seats: 5                       MRP from £29,480 -  £37,880


Did you know? Prior to this Alfa’s launch in 2016, the Giulia badge was last used on one of the company’s products in 1978.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8.25/10)

Never has one car meant so much to one company. The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the result of a significant, multimillion-pound investment in the ailing Italian marque by parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), with a view to getting this once-proud brand back up where it belongs among the premium elite. Years and years of underwhelming, substandard machines from Alfa have eroded customer confidence and sales are worryingly low. But the Giulia is the spearhead of a new wave of models from the company, all sitting on the saloon’s ‘Giorgio’ platform. There’s absolutely no doubt the Giulia itself is the best product Alfa Romeo has made for decades – it drives beautifully well, it’s refined, it looks gorgeous, and it has a decent interior, as well as a strong suite of engines – but the question is, will that be enough to tempt customers back into Alfa Romeo dealerships? We sincerely hope so – because this is a brilliant compact sports saloon in the finest Alfa traditions.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Specs & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

 

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

We Like

Stunning exterior

Fantastic chassis

Good array of engines

We Don't Like

A few of the interior plastics

No manual option

Short manufacturer warranty

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Looks are a subjective matter, but surely no one can argue that the Alfa Romeo Giulia isn’t leagues ahead of the opposition in terms of styling, eclipsing the previous front-runner – Jaguar’s XE – with ease. It’s an incredibly pretty car with some distinctive Alfa features, like the shield grille, mean headlights, long bonnet and short tail (in profile), and fluid swage lines running along its flanks. It’s not often that a three-box saloon can be called beautiful, but that’s certainly the case for the Alfa Romeo.

It looks even more impressive near the top of the specification tree, where the Speciale and Veloce models get some absolutely gorgeous 18-inch alloy wheels. The Speciale wears ‘five-hole’ black wheels, which hark back to a famous design of Alfa alloy called the ‘Teledial’ – and if they don’t appear convincing enough, genuine seven-hole Teledial lookalikes are on the options list. The outcome here is that whatever trim you pick the Giulia in, it looks superb.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Giulia’s interior is not quite as successful as the dramatic exterior of the car, and it remains behind the cabins of the Audi, BMW, and Mercedes triumvirate, but it is nevertheless one of Alfa’s best passenger compartments in many a year. There are a few plastics letting the side down, while the basic Giulia models have a 6.5-inch infotainment screen that looks hopelessly lost in the centre console. Yet the seats are both comfortable to sit in and fabulous to look at (although it’s a shame leather trim is only standard-fit near the top of the range), there’s a simplistic elegance about the sweeping line of the cowl above the easy-to-read twin-dial instrument cluster, most of the controls are sited intelligently and usefully where you need them, and there’s a generally sturdy feel to most of the switchgear. Except, that is, the control wheel for the infotainment – it works intuitively enough, but the quality feel of it is poor compared to a BMW iDrive rotary dial, for example.

Practicality

Both the front seats have six-way adjustment as standard from the entry point of the Giulia range and the driving position is fantastic. You sit low down but visibility out is nonetheless excellent, while offset pedals – a feature of many older Alfas – are not to be found here. With the longest wheelbase in class, interior room in the Giulia is more than enough for four tall adults. Rear headroom might not be brilliant, and like any rear-wheel-drive car the transmission tunnel eats into legroom for the middle passenger in the back, but no car in this class is any more capacious than the Alfa. It also has a 480-litre boot, matching its German rivals, although split-folding rear seats aren’t standard – and 40:20:40 backrests are only fitted to the Speciale and Veloce models.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Alfa Romeo Giulia’s technology count is impressive enough, but it’s not dripping in the same sort of cutting-edge software as cars like the Audi and Mercedes. Touchscreen infotainment is standard from the off, presented on a 6.5-inch screen and incorporating Bluetooth, DAB, MP3 compatibility, and USB connections. However, it is well worth upscaling to the Super model, because that gets the 8.8-inch screen of Alfa Connect and satnav as standard – and this larger display looks a much better fit in that shaped glass binnacle than the 6.5-inch item.

There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto here, but a nifty seven-inch colour TFT display in the instrument cluster arrives at Super level, while there are two uprated sound systems: Sound Theatre, with 11 speakers and a subwoofer; or Sound Theatre by Harman Kardon, a thunderous 900-watt, 14-speaker audio set-up with a 12-channel amp, subwoofer, and Logic 7 surround sound technology.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Power for the Giulia comes from two versions of a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, or two versions of a turbodiesel Alfa badges the ‘2.2’, even though its swept capacity means it is technically a 2.1-litre motor. All of these engines drive the rear wheels alone (there are Q4 all-wheel drive Alfas in left-hand drive markets, but there’s no plan to bring them to the UK as yet) via a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.

That lack of a manual option is a little disappointing, although you won’t lament the ZF. It’s a great self-shifter, swapping cogs seamlessly and responding well to large throttle inputs. It also comes with some absolutely magnificent, proper metal paddle shifts on higher-grade Giulias, seemingly lifted straight from a Ferrari – they’re an absolute delight to use.

Power for the diesel is either 150- or 180hp, while the petrol develops 200hp or a more fulsome 280hp in the Veloce. And both the core units are marvellous motors: strong, torquey, reasonably refined (the diesel’s perhaps not quite up to the silky standard of the 2.0-litre TDI in an Audi A4), and good on fuel. Performance is strong across the range, with even the slowest Giulia capable of 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and 137mph flat out.

Where the Alfa really proves itself, though, is with its ride-to-handling balance. The long wheelbase and wide track lead to sure-footed progress on motorways, with a fluid, supple ride and a rock-steady demeanour, while the handling is easily as good as the BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE leaders in this field. The steering of the Giulia is beautifully direct, while the rear end of the car feels truly alive – so it’s a real shame that more experienced drivers can’t fully turn the traction control off to better exploit its fluidity. However, for balancing driver entertainment with cultured manners, the Giulia is as good as anything in class.

Recommended engine: 2.2d Super (180hp)

0-62 MPH

7.2 seconds

Fuel economy

67.3 mpg

Emissions

109g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Not such a hot area for the Alfa Romeo Giulia, but it does have a five-star Euro NCAP rating. It achieved that principally through a whopping 98 per cent adult occupant score. But the safety assist figure (60 per cent) tells another story. Brilliantly, Lane Departure Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking are standard on all cars. Not so brilliantly, any other driver assist items are cost options throughout the line-up, part of a bundle called Driver Assistance Package Plus that adds automatic high-beam and blind-spot detection. And there’s no sign of radar cruise control or Lane Keep Assist, among other items, that you’d get on almost any of its rivals.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Colours

Rather fittingly for an Alfa, the solitary no-cost colour is solid Alfa Red. There are two more non-metallic paints, Alfa White and Alfa Black, but they both incur expense. Moving into the metallic palette, there are eight shades offered and five of them are some variation of grey: Silverstone Grey, Vesuvio Grey, Lipari Grey, Stromboli Grey, and Imola Titanium. The other three choices are Vulcan Black, Monza Red, and Montecarlo Blue.

Trim Levels

There are four, with only certain engines at each point. The basic model is the Giulia and this can be solely specified as a 2.0-litre petrol. Among the kit list here is the 6.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, 16-inch alloys, and a leather multifunction steering wheel. A step up is the Super, which offers every engine, but the 280hp petrol, and comes with the 8.8-inch touchscreen, 17-inch wheels, and colour TFT instrument cluster.

At Speciale level, the Alfa really looks the part, but the only engine you can have is the 180hp diesel, which is no great hardship, of course. Expect 18-inch wheels on run-flat tyres, sportier front and rear bumpers, red brake callipers, and the Sport Pack. The Veloce is a new model that debuts the 280hp 2.0-litre engine and it gets bigger brakes, a sports steering wheel, black brake callipers, and its own design of 18-inch wheels.

This grading is complicated by the Sport and Lusso (Luxury) Packs Alfa offers on the Super. These either ramp up the car’s dynamic character or major on comfort equipment, and result in two ‘intermediary’ branches between Super and Speciale, called Super Sport or Super Lusso.

Size and Dimensions

It might look long, but in this class, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is shorter than the Jaguar XE, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4 rivals, making it a breeze to drive and park.

Length

4,643mm

Width

2,024mm (including door mirrors)

Height

1,436mm

Max towing weight without brake

600kg (all models)

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Economy is good across the board, as Alfa’s decision to go with turbocharged engines pays dividends in terms of fuel usage. Even the 280hp Veloce, the least frugal Giulia (excluding the high-performance Quadrifoglio version, obviously), is supposed to return more than 46mpg with CO2 emissions just above the 140g/km mark. The 200hp 2.0-litre petrol engine isn’t much more efficient, turning in 48mpg and 138g/km, but the diesels are significantly better. Doesn’t matter whether you opt for 150- or 180hp, you should see back in excess of 67mpg and COemissions of just 109g/km.

There are two problems with the long-term costs of the Giulia, and they’re interlinked: the first is that the brand doesn’t have a great modern-day reputation in terms of reliability or quality, meaning residual values are an unknown – but they’re highly unlikely to match the competition; the second is that, on the reliability front, Alfa offers one of the least reassuring manufacturer warranties on the market. It’s unlimited mileage, but it only covers the Giulia for two years. A third year is provided as a ‘top-up’ by the dealership that sells the car and the mileage is then capped to 100,000. We think Alfa Romeo needs to address this if it's to regain buyer trust.

Reliability and servicing

It would be all too easy to say of Alfa that it has a poor reputation for reliability and that the Giulia will therefore not be a dependable proposition for owners. But the Giulia is part of the new Alfa Romeo and subject to that huge investment programme, and it feels every bit as solidly built as a Jaguar XE. Servicing intervals and costs are pretty much comparable with the class averages, so the Alfa shouldn’t prove costly for routine maintenance.  

Petrol models

Every 10,000 miles.

Diesel models

Every 10,000 miles.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa decided to price the Giulia so it was cheaper than its Audi, BMW, and Mercedes rivals at an equivalent spec level. The range starts at about £500 less than £30,000 for the 2.0-litre petrol turbo in the base car, rising to almost £38,000 for the 280hp Veloce. We’d recommend aiming at the 180hp diesel in Super trim (about £33,000) and then adding a few choice options, like a Lusso Pack and maybe one of the driver assistance bundles, for a really comprehensive premium executive saloon for good money.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Company Car Buyer

The 2.2-litre turbodiesel in 150hp form has the lowest BIK rates and, as a Super, it comes with a good range of equipment for business users.

Car Enthusiast

The Veloce might look like the clear choice, but the 2.0-litre turbo petrol is quick enough and cheaper – opt for it in Super Sport trim.

Luxury Seeker

Either the Speciale or a Sport Lusso will feel the most opulent within, with the 180hp diesel the most laid-back performer of the line-up.

Rivals

Audi A4

Has the best cabin in the class, is super-refined, and is one of the newest models going, having been substantially overhauled in 2015.

BMW 3 Series

Still used as the dynamic yardstick, although some would say the Jaguar was the better steer. Launched in 2012 so is feeling its age a bit.

Jaguar XE

Great looks, taut chassis, limited rear space, and noisy diesel engines. The lithe Jaguar is excellent, but not quite class-leading.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Not hugely exciting and it looks identikit to the E- and S-Class models up the range – but it has a lovely interior, and a fabulous ride.

Volvo S60

Second-gen car significantly outmoded in this company and is killing time until the SPA-based Mk3 arrives in 2018.

What others say

What Car?

“The Alfa Giulia is good to drive and an interesting alternative to the BMW 3 Series. Refinement and interior quality are below par, though.”

Car Buyer

“The Giulia is a stylish, luxurious, and great-to-drive alternative to the established saloons like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.”

 

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