Alfa's rebirth gets off to a flying start. RWD Giulia is a sign of good things to come
Alfa’s answer to the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 – a mid-size saloon with an all-new rear-wheel drive platform (that underpins the new Stelvio SUV) in which Alfa (or parent company FCA) has invested billions in a quest to take Alfa from sales of 75,000 per year to 400,000 within three years.
There are three engines to choose from (four, if you count the QV, with its Ferrari-developed V6) – one petrol (a 2.0-litre turbo with 197bhp and 243lb ft) and a 2.2-litre diesel with either 148 or 178bhp. All are brand-new for the Giulia, and all are available only with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
We’ve only driven the range-topping 178bhp motor so far. With 332lb ft at 1750rpm, it moves easily and confidently and as an everyday car. The engine feels capable of delivering the claimed 6.8secs to 62mph acceleration, but it does get a bit strained over the last 1,000rpm, so you find yourself shifting at 3,500rpm, which is fine because of all that torque on offer.
It handles well, too. Engaging enough to hold your interest, with plenty of grip, but a bit softer than its Bavarian rival. Most buyers will be business leasers, and their criteria will be more cost-orientated, plus it remains to be seen how lease companies will view an Alfa Romeo and its potential residuals, but Alfa has done all it can to make this car appealing.
Taken by itself the Giulia’s interior is more than acceptable (and jolly nice to look at), but hop between this and an Audi A4 and you’ll feel the difference. The Alfa may be shot through with style, but it’s not as solid or exceptionally executed as the best German alternatives.
Likewise the infotainment system. It’s logical to use, which is great, but the screen resolution isn’t exceptional and the connectivity and integration isn’t as polished. Alfa has done brilliantly to get it to where it is, but to catch up with the Germans in every area was too big an ask.