The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a beautiful, road-confident car that brings the Italian brand into the American luxury market with gusto. We love its unique, sleek style, its fast pace, and the Giulia’s love of the road.
Most of the attention in the North American press has been on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the halo model for the brand. Yet it’s the more mainstream trim levels of the Giulia (base and Ti) that are actually far more important to Alfa Romeo and their success here. The Giulia is not only the first Alfa four-door sedan to be seen in North America in decades, it’s also competing in the luxury sports sedan market on several levels. From the entry-level base model up to the top-end Quadrifoglio, much of Alfa’s success here will depend on how well-received the Giulia is.
Our test model was the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T with only a few add-ons from the base level. The price tag for this car was about $39,000, just a thousand or so dollars above the base model pricing for the Giulia. For that price, we received a nicely-done car that performed beautifully in most every way.
The Giulia is powered by a 2.0-liter intercooled, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That engine produces a respectable 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque in a relatively wide RPM band. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends that power to the rear wheels, with all-wheel drive as an option (one of our few upgrades). With this setup, most drivers can expect to make 0-60 mph times in the 6-second range on public roads. We consistently pulled 5.7-second runs in dedicated testing. Alfa swears by 5.1s runs on the track.
It’s readily apparent that Alfa Romeo’s engineers put a lot of time into making sure that the little turbocharged four doesn’t intrude into the cabin with a lot of whiney, struggling turbo sounds. Instead, a nice resonance is felt when the gas pedal is pressed, but the engine otherwise stays out of the passengers’ space. Likewise, the transmission works as hard as possible to make sure it’s unobtrusive unless called upon for performance. Shifts in normal driving are almost seamless, but the trans is happy to change that and let rotations climb quickly when the throttle is on the floor.
The Italian engineers didn’t leave off there, though. The road handling of the Alfa Romeo Giulia is excellent. Steering is precise, rivaling and even beating out some German makes, while the sedan’s wonderful weight distribution and suspension give plenty of confidence in the corners. We were very impressed by the entire drive dynamic of this car.
Those Alfa guys knew what they were doing with their engineering. The Romeo guys should get equal billing for their excellence in design. The Giulia is a beautiful car to look at. No matter the angle. From the signature Alfa Romeo triangular grille to the sexy lines that create the Giulia’s bodywork, it’s one fine-looking vehicle. Drive by in one, and you can be sure that heads will turn.
Inside, though, we did find a few things amiss. The overall feel of the Giulia’s cabin is just not quite up to par, though it’s difficult to put a finger on what the problem is. Materials quality is excellent, design elements are great (especially the fully-integrated infotainment screen), and comfort levels are very good. It’s the overall feel of the thing. It just seems off. The design elements blend together well, but still seem like they are parts of a whole rather than an integrated whole. Storage is another issue, with a definite lack of places to put gadgets and small items within the car and the Giulia always seems one USB port short of what’s needed. Trunk space is good, though, with a wide opening for good access.
The front seating of the Giulia is excellent and very well done. Even at the base level, comfort is high and that only gets better with the Ti trim and its added adjustments and interior bling. The rear seats, however, are difficult to get into thanks to narrow lower door openings and a low roof line. But once inside, passengers in the Giulia will find themselves more comfortable than they would be in most compact-sized cars.
Back to that infotainment mentioned before, it’s Alfa Romeo’s own system rather than a rebranded version of Fiat-Chrysler’s Uconnect. That’s good in the fact that it allows the Giulia to have a screen tailored to the car’s interior. But it’s not so good when we consider that Uconnect is one of the best infotainment user interfaces on the market. Alfa’s system is a bit slower and uses a command knob (a mark of European luxury), but it is easy to learn. It’s limited as to what it can do, especially compared to others we can name outside of the luxury markets, but still well enough done that most will find it useful.
In the end, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a beautiful car with an excellent road presence. It is very enjoyable to drive, turns heads as it passes, and has everything that entry-level luxury buyers could ask for in a sports sedan. We think that Alfa Romeo should do well with this car, and we hope they find the strong foothold they need in order to start bringing more greatness to American shores.