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Anthony Fongaro

Quick Drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4

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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


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Awesome write up, thanks for sharing. Too bad a new car put out for test driving has such a black eye out of the box. BROKEN PANORAMIC SUNROOF. Right there it shows their history of building piss poor auto's and why they will fail. The first cars should be perfect coming back into a market where the majority of people who remember Alfa and have driven them, worked on them, etc. know what garbage they are. 

Wait and see, but I bet this car is eaten alive by Consumers Reports and everyone else in the auto world that did not take marketing money from Alfa. 

Hate to say it but I do not expect them to succeed. History is against them. Sergio should have never wasted the Billions taken from the American nameplates. IF he was Smart, he would have reinvested that money in them and made them better rather than trying to bring back a dead name plate.

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Good write-up.  I think the start-stop button being on the wheel was due to the relationship Alfa-Romeo and Ferrari had while this vehicle was being developed. A lot of Ferrari went into this vehicle before Serg sold off that brand.  It was probably 97% done by the time of the sale.

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31 minutes ago, Anthony Fongaro said:

Actually no, this was a production vehicle.

 

That's what I thought. So it seems like it's not just the preproduction Alfas suffering from quality issues. Interesting and not a good sign for FCA. 

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I don't see how you let a test car out with something broken on it.  You want the press cars in tip top shape.  This is the battle they will have to fight, even if it drives great, people will wonder if it will break all the time and would they just be safer buying a German car.  You can't afford to have customers feel like they are gambling when buying your product.

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4 hours ago, Anthony Fongaro said:

There also was a panoramic sunroof (which in my tester was broken. Not a good sign before driving it).

@Stew :rofl:

@Anthony Fongaro Very good write up, I enjoyed it. Out of curiosity what are your 3 favorite things about the car and your 3 least favorite things about the car after getting some seat time?

Edited by ccap41
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1 hour ago, smk4565 said:

I don't see how you let a test car out with something broken on it.  You want the press cars in tip top shape.  This is the battle they will have to fight, even if it drives great, people will wonder if it will break all the time and would they just be safer buying a German car.  You can't afford to have customers feel like they are gambling when buying your product.

Take a Cadillac and support America over this Garbage back in the States!

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39 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

@Stew :rofl:

@Anthony Fongaro Very good write up, I enjoyed it. Out of curiosity what are your 3 favorite things about the car and your 3 least favorite things about the car after getting some seat time?

I liked the steering, the seats, and the engine. I didn't like the navigation system, the paddle shifters were a little big and the obvious: the "Alfa-itus" of the sunroof not working.

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Question from the peanut gallery here - How the Giulia ride when you're not hustling it around some corners?

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1 hour ago, smk4565 said:

I don't see how you let a test car out with something broken on it.  You want the press cars in tip top shape.  This is the battle they will have to fight, even if it drives great, people will wonder if it will break all the time and would they just be safer buying a German car.  You can't afford to have customers feel like they are gambling when buying your product.

This wasn't a press car, but @Anthony Fongaro can correct me if I'm wrong.

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52 minutes ago, Anthony Fongaro said:

I liked the steering, the seats, and the engine. I didn't like the navigation system, the paddle shifters were a little big and the obvious: the "Alfa-itus" of the sunroof not working.

Thanks!

Interesting how the 'car-guy' things are what makes the car good but the 'everyday people' things on the inside is where it faults. That could be a tough sell to the masses.

Come to think of it, I think I'm going to be asking this same question to a lot more reviewers. I like it. It's simple and gets some highs and lows that aren't factual(like a 0-60 time) but opinionated and valued as a consumer.

Edited by ccap41
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Sucks about the sunroof.  how many miles were on the car and it's history?  Still can't gleam reliability from early test reviews and really have to wait until the second model year since first ones on new cars generally suck (aga, the exploding engines on early stingrays which 1 mag had 2 engi nes go which IMHO is a LOT worse than a sunroof needing repair.  Both vettes were VERY low mileage to, full production cars and one was even their long termer.  

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15 minutes ago, Stew said:

Sucks about the sunroof.  how many miles were on the car and it's history?  Still can't gleam reliability from early test reviews and really have to wait until the second model year since first ones on new cars generally suck (aga, the exploding engines on early stingrays which 1 mag had 2 engi nes go which IMHO is a LOT worse than a sunroof needing repair.  Both vettes were VERY low mileage to, full production cars and one was even their long termer.  

The Giulia I drove had around 50 miles on it.  After I drove the car, the dealership I went to was going to send the car back to Alfa Romeo to have the sunroof malfunction analyzed. I haven't seen other reviews of the regular Giulia, but I've seen that the Giulia Quadrifoglio has been alright for the most part. We just have to wait and see. 

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3 minutes ago, Anthony Fongaro said:

The Giulia I drove had around 50 miles on it.  After I drove the car, the dealership I went to was going to send the car back to Alfa Romeo to have the sunroof malfunction analyzed. I haven't seen other reviews of the regular Giulia, but I've seen that the Giulia Quadrifoglio has been alright for the most part. We just have to wait and see. 

Car and Driver just did a comparison where the Quadrifoglio  came out on top of the C63, M3, and ATS-V with no issues and Motor trend did a 9 car test where the regular Giulia finished 1st with no issues beating out 8 rivals.  it is a wait and see, it is just annoying when people automatically damn it when their choices aren't exactly the top of the reliability game themselves (not talking about you and thanks for the response)......

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4 hours ago, dfelt said:

Take a Cadillac and support America over this Garbage back in the States!

Check MT's latest comparison, one had issues with the infotainment and the other had no issues, hint the Alfa's system was not the one with issues

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8 hours ago, dfelt said:

Awesome write up, thanks for sharing. Too bad a new car put out for test driving has such a black eye out of the box. BROKEN PANORAMIC SUNROOF. Right there it shows their history of building piss poor auto's and why they will fail. The first cars should be perfect coming back into a market where the majority of people who remember Alfa and have driven them, worked on them, etc. know what garbage they are. 

Wait and see, but I bet this car is eaten alive by Consumers Reports and everyone else in the auto world that did not take marketing money from Alfa. 

Hate to say it but I do not expect them to succeed. History is against them. Sergio should have never wasted the Billions taken from the American nameplates. IF he was Smart, he would have reinvested that money in them and made them better rather than trying to bring back a dead name plate.

A non-functional sunroof on an early production model is NOT enough to say the quality is going to suck.  My brother's ATS is 15, 3rd year in prodcution, with less than 10k miles and has had to have the entire CUE infotainment headunit replaced AND the PCM flashed for shifting and rough idle issues........  Besides, what does the sunroof was broke mean?  it wouldn't open?  There were actual parts broken off?  Tremendous wind noise?  

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3 minutes ago, Stew said:

A non-functional sunroof on an early production model is NOT enough to say the quality is going to suck.  My brother's ATS is 15, 3rd year in prodcution, with less than 10k miles and has had to have the entire CUE infotainment headunit replaced AND the PCM flashed for shifting and rough idle issues........  Besides, what does the sunroof was broke mean?  it wouldn't open?  There were actual parts broken off?  Tremendous wind noise?  

So we are moving the bar from not being able to criticize a preproduction model to not being able to criticize an early production model? 

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11 minutes ago, Stew said:

Check MT's latest comparison, one had issues with the infotainment and the other had no issues, hint the Alfa's system was not the one with issues

And as History has proven as well as many write ups, the Alfa is unreliable and too many people are idiots to learn CUE. I find just as many writeups where people wonder why others say it does not work. 

So I will damn them till they have some solid history as history is what we have and garbage is what dead Alfa built and died of.

Two sides to this coin and you only want to see the it's great best over everyone and yet just as many see problems and like this a production auto that is broken from the get go.

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It's an early production model on a brand new platform without any direct predecessor.  I wouldn't get too hung up on a sunroof issue.  Similarly, my 2004 CTS had a faulty sunroof switch that had to be replaced early in its life but that was literally the only warranty repair I had in 48k miles of ownership.

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It is not what the Alfa does now that is the concern but how will it hold up long term and just how expensive will it be to maintain. 

Ferrari's are great cars but become money pits and price out  many owners that can afford the car but not to maintain it. 

Then you have the quality issues long term to consider. 

This is not just an Alfa issue but many cars in this segment. Some prove to be fairly maintenance free while others call for service plans that can be expensive and if ignored can lead to major failures. 

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34 minutes ago, dfelt said:

And as History has proven as well as many write ups, the Alfa is unreliable and too many people are idiots to learn CUE. I find just as many writeups where people wonder why others say it does not work. 

So I will damn them till they have some solid history as history is what we have and garbage is what dead Alfa built and died of.

Two sides to this coin and you only want to see the it's great best over everyone and yet just as many see problems and like this a production auto that is broken from the get go.

3

Umm, not fully sure about that (part I bolded). CUE has gotten better, but it is still a pain to use. A lot of it is because of decisions made by GM in terms of how the system was developed, various technical parts, and decisions on how the system is controlled. Sure, CUE takes a while to learn. But is the fault on the person who has decided to purchase the vehicle or the company that went forward with it? More on the latter than the former.

As for Alfa Romeo - Yes, the company has reputation for problematic vehicles. A Well deserved one at that. But the first year of any new vehicle from a manufacturer is going to have issues. I was reading today that Consumer Reports' Giulia Ti has already been to the dealership three times since they have bought it. If they waited a year on purchasing the Giuila, they maybe have one less visit to a dealer (only guessing here). 

I'm willing to hold off burning Alfa Romeo at the stake in terms of reliability for a couple of years till we get more data and experiences on it. If it stays the same or gets worse, then I'm all for being critical.

Besides, what made Alfa left the U.S. back in 1996 wasn't fully reliability - it was suffering significant losses due to poor sales and not wanting to make the investment to meet upcoming safety and emission standards.

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