The Alfa Romeo Guilia Deserves Your Attention
The Alfa Romeo brand conjures mixed emotions.
It exudes Italian desirability yet historically hasn’t always been able to achieve its technical ambitions – something even the FCA CEO Marchionne has recognized. So when Alfa decides that now is the time to relaunch the brand in the U.S., we should expect that it brings a new level of performance, not just in objective data points but also in style and substance. The all-new Giulia sports-sedan enters into one of the most competitive segments and takes direct aim at the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class, both of which are considered to be the top performers in the class. Does this latest Alfa come with an excuse or does it provide a true alternative in the competitive luxury sports-sedan landscape?
The Giulia comes in three trim levels, Base, Ti, and the uber high-performance, Quadrifoglio. The Base and the Ti both come with the same turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder providing 280 hp and 305 ft-lb of torque available from 2,000-4,800 rpm. That’s significantly more power than either the BMW or Mercedes 2.0L turbocharged powerplants but the Germans make their peak torque much lower in the rev range – key for everyday drivability. The only transmission available is an 8-speed automatic leaving BMW and Audi as the only options for rowing your own. An all-wheel drive system featuring a front axle disconnect minimizes the impact to fuel efficiency.
While the Base provides the luring entry price point of less than $39k, it’s the Ti trim that allows the Giulia to be fitted as a proper luxury sports sedan. Here, the car can take the path of Lusso (luxury) or Sport which includes specific chassis setup and interior appointments.
Fully optioned in either trim, the interior features natural wood and a stitched dash, among other fine details, and quickly gives the impression that all of your senses are appreciated by Alfa. Beyond the materials, the sharp infographics, and a large integrated – not a slapped on ipad look-alike – 8.8” center display brings the straightforward interior design into today’s connected world. Interior space is on par with others in its class and control layouts are logical. The steering wheel is well shaped although could stand to be a bit thicker. While the fully equipped versions take the price to over $50k, it still undercuts similarly appointed versions of the 330i and C300 by several thousand dollars.
Visually, the Giulia features clear rear-drive proportions with its long hood and short overhangs. The front end, not to be confused with anything else on the road, begins with the brand’s signature tri-lobe grille. Although the rest of the front bumper is a mix of curves and shapes, the grille provides a visual origin for the muscular lines that develop along the hood and provide a near flat fender surface that emphasizes the car’s low center of gravity. The side profile takes shape by a rising cut line that fades into the rear door handle. The beltline along the glass drops slightly as it arches around the rear wheel, further demonstrating the athleticism of rear drive dynamics. Around back, the low and wide theme continues with narrow tail lights and a crisp styling curve that wraps around the bumper which neatly displays the twin exhaust tips.
It’s a handsome, traditionally styled three-box sedan, with an appropriately reserved Italian flair. If the M3 and the AMG C63 S are more to your liking Alfa will serve up a similarly priced Quadrifoglio with a Ferrari-derived 2.9L twin-turbo V6, active aerodynamics, carbon fiber panels, and optional Brembo Carbon Ceramic Material (CCM) brakes. The end result- 500+ hp, a top speed of 191 mph, and a claimed lap time around the Nurburgring that is faster than any other four-door production vehicle.
Around the track, acceleration is strong throughout the rev range and the power continues up to the redline. The exhaust rips a distinctive note that makes you grin as you hear it reflecting off the track walls. The electrohydraulic braking was another focal point during development and, working in tandem with the optional $8k optional CCM brakes, enables confident braking deep into the zone lap after lap. Gradually easing off the brakes and turning in at speed, the car remains balanced and ready for the next transition. Back onto the throttle, the twin-clutch torque vectoring rear differential works hard to put the power to the ground and the sport seats do their best to hold you in place through the right-left curves. Accelerating out of the turn, hitting the the large steering column-mounted paddle shifters, the quad tipped exhaust lets everyone around know that you’re not holding back and you begin the next lap.
The Quadrifoglio certainly brings more than just an emotional side to the track, it quickly demonstrates its technical expertise as well.
The Giulia is a critical component in Alfa’s turnaround plan and is core to establishing the brand’s sporting intentions. First impressions are everything and in the case of the Giulia, it is a true alternative to the other cars in its class. For that alone, it’s great to see Alfa Romeo back in the U.S.
About the Author: Matt Pilgrim’s fixation for all things automotive naturally guided him to Kettering University (formally GMI), which in turn, kicked off a wide range of automotive experiences. From maintaining paint-shop production lines to testing in extreme environments to designing exterior components, he gained a full appreciation for the hard work and dedication necessary to turn a sketch into a road-going, award winning vehicle. Now residing in Denver, CO, Matt promotes his passion for the industry through freelance writing for various publications; translating his technical understanding and industry insight into a casual discussion of today’s news and car reviews.