Review: Alfa Romeo Giulia takes executive saloon fight to BMW and Mercedes
Alfa Romeo is taking on the Germans at their own game as its Giulia model bids to take sales in the compact executive saloon market.
A sleek and stylish rival to the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Merc C-Class, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a car for those prepared to look beyond the badge snobbery of some devotees of the higher-end German manufacturers.
It's a tonic for anyone bored with mainstream compact executive cars and seriously lovely to look at.
The Giulia is a key car in Alfa's development. Setting aside the 4C sports car and the Stelvio SUV, the Giulia is first new mainstream model since the much smaller Giulietta, launched way back in 2010.
The whole car, and those looks in particular. In a class dominated by the Germans, its long, clean, taut lines flow from its long wheelbase that is created by its rear-wheel drive architecture.
It comes in saloon body style only, and in five trims. One limitation is that UK buyers have no choice with the transmission: even though it comes in both manual and auto in Europe, we have to make do with auto only.
Under the bonnet
The powerplants that have commanded most attention include the 2.2-litre diesel, which comes with two power outputs: 178bhp and 148bhp.
There is also a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit, and a very powerful 2.9-litre V6 petrol powerplant on the range-topping model.
Models and equipment
The trim levels are standard Giulia, Super, Speciale, Veloce and the very fast Quadrifoglio (which harks back to the 'four-leafed clover' Alfa heritage of old).
Standard equipment on the entry-level car includes that eight-speed auto transmission, 16-inch alloys, daytime running lights, LED rear lamp clusters, Connect infotainment system and new Alfa DNA selector.
Standard safety features include Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian detection, Integrated Braking System and Lane Departure Warning.
Super gets by 17-inch alloy wheels, leather and fabric seats, steering wheel paddle shifters and special interior trim.
In Speciale, you get 18-inch 5-hole dark alloy wheels, red painted brake callipers, Bi-Xenon headlights, powered and heated sports seats, sports bumpers, black gloss window surround and rear sports diffuser with dual exhausts.
Veloce raises the game yet further with an enhanced sports interior and exterior, 18-inch 10-spoke Turbine alloy wheels and black brake calipers. Misano Blue paint will also be available, as an option, exclusively on the Giulia Veloce.
The same quality feel continues inside with a driver-focused layout, complimented by a choice of black, tan or red Italian leather Sport seats and aluminium shift paddles on the steering column.
At the top of the range
The range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio is equipped with the Ferrari-inspired 510hp 2.9-litre BiTurbo petrol engine and is easily identifiable thanks to its aerodynamic enhancements, 19-inch alloy wheels and 35W bi-Xenon headlights with AFS.
Inside it has sports seats trimmed in leather and Alcantara, a sports steering wheel with red power button and the Alfa DNA Pro selector with Race mode.
Performance enhancements also include uprated brakes, Active Aero Splitter, Chassis Domain Control and Torque Vectoring technology, while options include ultra-light carbon seats and carbon ceramic disc brakes.
Safety and driver assists
Sophisticated technology is in all models as standard including an Integrated Brake System (IBS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) with pedestrian detection.
The IBS combines the stability control system and traditional servo to improve brake responsiveness, lower weight, reduce pedal vibrations of the ABS system and make record-breaking stopping distances possible: 62mph to a standstill in just 38.5m with standard discs or an impressive 32m for the Quadrifoglio.
Forward Collision Warning Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian detection systems automatically slows or brakes the car to avoid an imminent crash, using radar sensors and a camera to detect whether vehicles or obstacles, including pedestrians, are in its path.
The system first warns the driver about the obstacle via an acoustic alarm and, if the driver fails to react quickly, it brakes autonomously to avoid collision at speeds of up to 40mph.
All the tech
As you'd expect, a brand new car needs to come sufficiently specced with phone and media technology.
A new 8.8-inch high-resolution Connect 3D Nav system offers a series of features and functions, including a next-generation HMI human-machine interface.
It includes advanced voice recognition for connectivity with all mobile devices (Apple iOS and Android, DAB digital radio and Hi-Fi digital audio.
The sat nav includes high-resolution 3D maps with rapid route calculation even in locations where there it's not possible to find a GPS signal thanks to something called advanced "Dead Reckoning" technology.
Music lovers should appreciate the sophisticated Sound Theatre by Harman Kardon system containing a compact and high-performance, 900W, 12-channel Class D amplifier, which combines with Logic 7 technology to fill the cabin with 5.1 surround sound via 14 high-quality speakers.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia range is on sale now priced from around £29k on the road for a standard entry-level model.
The powerful Quadrifoglio, featuring a 510hp, 600Nm Bi-Turbo V6 petrol engine with eight-speed paddle shift auto transmission as standard, is on sale from £59,000 on the road.