This short drive, I drove something I didn’t think I ever would. It wasn't a six-figure super car that can do over 200 mph. No, I never thought I would be driving a modern Alfa Romeo in the United States. For the last 10 years, only two Alfa Romeos have made it to our shores carrying ridiculous price tags. Now, Alfa Romeo is taking a stand with its new Giulia sedan and it’s not what I expected.
That isn’t a bad thing. What I expected was the same old stereotype of every Italian sedan. Beautiful design and leather, electronics that don’t work and eventually can’t keep up with the Germans. In terms of style, the Giulia isn’t actually pretty. In fact, I would say it seems a bit tame. I understand why they would stay a bit conservative coming back into the market, and the styling cues on the top-of-the-line Quadrifoglio are more dramatic. The front end is classic Alfa Romeo with its upside-down triangle grill.
Hop inside and the first thing you see is a rather large steering wheel. Alfa probably figured that if Ferrari puts their start/stop button on their steering wheel, why shouldn’t they? The gauges are large and clear as is the 8.8” widescreen display right next to them. Place your hand behind the shifter and a large disc controls that display similar to the systems in Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Sadly, while everything in the front of the cabin feels modern, the navigation system looks like it came from the early 2000s. The graphics aren’t quite as detailed as its rivals but the system does work well .
Once you turn the Giulia on, the magic starts to happen. The steering is sharp and direct. Stomp on the gas pedal and the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four sounds fantastic. The engine produces 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. Combine this with both all-wheel-drive and an 8-speed automatic, Alfa claims 60mph will be hit in around the 5 second mark. While driving the car, you get the feeling that the spark is really coming back with Alfa Romeo. No longer do you have to pine for an Italian vehicle that is usable but not too quirky like a Fiat. Shifting gears can be done with the oversized paddle shifters or with the gear selector. I found the paddle shifters to be a bit too big but they worked well.
While driving, you will notice a rotary nob with “DNA” on it. D is for Dynamic, N is for Natural, and A is for Advanced Efficiency. Since the weather was dry, I did half of my drive in Normal and half in Dynamic. If this was my vehicle, I would keep it in Dynamic at all times since Dynamic has a sharper throttle and a more robust exhaust note. As for efficiency, the two-liter engine is rated at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
This particular Alfa Romeo did have a few features worth mentioning. First is the 900-watt Harmon/Kardon 14-speaker sound system. There also was a panoramic sunroof (which in my tester was broken. Not a good sign before driving it). It also had the Driver Assistance Dynamic and Driver Assistance Static Packages. Dynamic gets you adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlight control, and forward collision warning. Static gets you blind spot monitoring and cross pass detection. There were also the beautiful 19” wheels which made my test car look great.
I left my drive wondering how this will do against competition. Pin it against German rivals and I think the Giulia can go blow-for-blow against them. It may not have all the safety of a Mercedes or a complex all-wheel-drive system of an Audi, but the way that it drives, stops, and corners makes up for it. Finally, we have an Italian sedan that is attainable. Hopefully it doesn't suffer from "Alfa-itus" of older Alfa Romeos.
Photo courtesy of FCA Media