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Alfa Romeo Giulia: An Under-Appreciated Gem

Updated: Jan 4


Vehicle: Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4

MSRP as tested: $65,440 CAD

Specs: 2.0L I-4 direct-injection turbo (280 hp, 306 lb-ft) / 8-speed automatic

0-100kmh as tested: 5.2 seconds


Though it has quite a few flaws and a spotty reliability history, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is undoubtedly one of the most underrated and fun cars of its segment. On paper it doesn’t exactly stand out in any particular aspect, but its unparalleled driving dynamics, best-in-class power (among 4-cylinder competitors), and sharp styling inside and out is enough to win us over.




Driving Impressions:

If you're an enthusiast who doesn't mind dealing with a few quirks, you HAVE to give the Giulia a try. While not the most practical, modern, or luxurious sports sedan out there, it's hard not to fall in love once you get behind the wheel of one of this unique Italian sports sedan.


When it comes to handling the Giulia reigns supreme, even compared to the mighty BMW 3 Series. Many sports sedans in this class try to use heavy steering weight to convey a sense of solidity, but on the Alfa steering is surprisingly light yet responsive and direct, giving it that sense of agility and light-weightiness that makes it such fun to chuck into corners. Excellent ergonomics, bolstered sport seats, and a thin-rimmed steering wheel help make canyon carving comfortable too. Mounted on the steering column are the aluminium Maserati-style paddle shifters, paired with an excellent ZF 8-speed auto. The closely-spaced gears, quick shifts, satisfying paddle clicks make it a blast to manually fire off upshifts during flat-out acceleration.

Behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia
The large aluminium paddles are some of the best in the industry

As a base engine this 280hp turbo-4 is excellent, providing best-in-class power at 280hp and a relatively enjoyable exhaust note, and launching Giulia to 100km/h in about 5.2 seconds during our testing. We did however notice it doesn't provide quite as much initial low-end grunt as comparable engines from the Germans, as well as a disappointingly low redline (a sharp contrast to the Quadrifoglio's 2.9 V6 which explodes with power in the upper RPMs). Still, it's among the more enjoyable 4-cylinders out there.


On the other hand, in our high-spec Ti Sport Q4 tester this engine doesn't quite do the car’s excellent driving dynamics and $60K+ price tag justice. It's not just about the lack of power; at the end of the day it still sounds and feels like a 4-cylinder, leaving enthusiasts craving a more melodic exhaust note, a higher redline and upper-end grunt, and refinement. We really wish Alfa would offer a larger mid-range V6 to slot between the base turbo-4 and the bonkers 505hp Quadrifoglio, to compete with the likes of the M340i, C43 AMG, and Audi S4.




Interior Impressions:

Alfa Romeo Giulia's cabin

One could say Giulia's cabin is reflective of its overall personality; prioritizing sex appeal and enjoyment over features and practicality. Featuring a sporty elegant cabin design, surprisingly solid build, and ample amounts of leather and aluminium trim (in the higher trim levels at least), it's hard to deny the visual appeal here, especially specced in this beautiful red leather trim. While it might not look as modern or have as much tech as others, I personally I think it's one of the more unique and attractive interiors out there.


Tech has always been a low point with Alfa Romeo, and though recent updates have help it become more competitive, it's still not exactly cutting-edge. The infotainment system has been massively improved for 2020, but I still found myself avoiding the slow navigation system in favour for CarPlay. Don't expect to find features such as an all-digital instrument cluster or a 360 camera here; even the backup camera resolution literally looks like something out of 10 year old flip-phone.


Practicality wise, Giulia also trails its competitors by a slight margin in most metrics. Rear seats offer just a tad bit less space than the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4, and the same applies to its 13 cubic feet trunk. There's also room for improvement up front, with limited knee and head room potentially making for a cramped-feeling experience for drivers 6-foot and above. It's not all bad though; as sporty as the car handles, all the refinement you would expect from a luxury sports sedan is still here. Ride is on par with other cars in this class, delivering a calm composed cruising experience. The lack of fancy tech also has the benefit of leaving the interior buttons/dials and intuitive and easy-to-reach.




Exterior:


If want to stand out the Giulia is a good way to do so, especially given how relatively uncommon Alfas are in general. Unchanged in design since its 2015 debut, this Italian beauty still remains one of the sharpest and unique-looking sports sedans out there in our eyes. Up front, you get the trademark triangle grille along with some large bumper intakes and well-sculpted body lines, giving it a sporty and distinctly Alfa look without being overly aggressive. Alfa's 19-inch verde wheels also gives the car unique visual flair with its circular 5-spoke design.



Final Thoughts:

While not the most pragmatic or rational choice, the Giulia still manages to entice enthusiasts with its sharp styling and excellent driving dynamics. It's definitely not the car for everyone, and if you're looking for a practical and well-rounded luxury daily commuter with all the latest bells and whistles, I'd look elsewhere... But for those who value driving enjoyment and want a sports sedan that stands out from the crowd, be sure to give this Alfa a try; you might just fall in love with it like we did.

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