The compact luxury sports sedan segment has long been one of the most competitive in the industry, at least from the perspective of journalists and enthusiasts. While the BMW 3 Series has always been the right choice, it got softer in the 2000s, allowing other models to reach the top. Then, in 2015, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio entered the scene and upset everything, immediately becoming the coolest and most driving sports sedan ever.
Theshe’s not the only Giulia you can buy, though. The base Giulia 2.0T uses a four-four turbo engine that is a far cry from the Ferrari-derived V6 of the Quadrifoglio. Does the low-end Giulia seem as magical as the high-performance version? It does this to some extent, but it’s mostly at the expense of the car.
More than five years after its debut, the Giulia is still gorgeous. It’s easily one of the nicest sedans in its class even without the Quadrifoglio’s larger grips and wider stance. I love the 19-inch silver wheels on my test car, which are standard on the Ti Sport trim, and the red brake calipers are a free option. The classic red on tan color scheme of this Giulia is fabulous, although I’d skip the $ 2,200 Competizione Rosso Tri-Coat metallic paint and choose the fantastic Visconti Green for $ 600 instead.
The interior also looks good. Electric leather seats are standard and the Ti Sport comes with heated buckets. This Giulia has a $ 700 package that also wraps the upper dash and door panels in leather with contrast stitching. For 2020 the Giulia got a redesigned center console with updated materials and new grips, and the gearbox is now wrapped in leather. Alfa says it has larger cup holders and storage compartments, but the center console still has a lot of wasted space and there’s only one USB port (with two more under the armrest).
Sports first of all
Being an Alfa Romeo the Giulia should drive as it looks, and it certainly does. The steering is super direct and crisp, with more sensitivity than virtually any other sedan on the market. But it’s a little too light for my taste and makes the car a little tiring on the highway. The thin-rimmed steering wheel itself is fantastic, having been redesigned for 2020 to be nicer and more ergonomic. The Ti Sport has its own steering wheel design with perforated leather.
Even with the optional all-wheel drive system, the Giulia is a lot of fun to slip into a corner and the Ti Sport models come standard with a limited-slip rear differential. The Alfa is light and playful and the traction control almost never intervenes even when I push. My test car has the $ 995 adaptive suspension, which is well damped and never too stiff, although the cockpit gets a little shaky on bad road surfaces. Standard Brembo brakes are strong, and while they’re touchy with a short pedal stroke, they’re easy to modulate in town.
The Giulia 2.0T uses a 2.0-liter turbo inline four with 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque, and it’s excellent. There is some initial lag when pavement as well, but in the end the Giulia is fast as hell, with Alfa saying h60 mph takes just over 5 seconds to hit. The eight-speed automatic transmission provided by ZF is quick to change and has fantastic paddles that are mounted on the column,.
Unlike other four turbos of similar power, the Giulia’s engine also sounds pretty good, though not as impressive as the Quadrifoglio’s twin-turbo V6. At 26 mpg combined, 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, the Giulia 2.0T AWD is near the bottom of the segment when it comes to fuel economy, and I’ve seen closer to 20 mpg overall.
Good technology, but not great
The Giulia (and its sister Stelvio) received a major infotainment overhaul for 2020, adding a standard 8.8-inch touchscreen with a new card-based operating system. It looks and feels better than the old system, especially now that you no longer have to use the knob on the center console to control it, but it can still be pretty slow and confusing and annoying to use. The new standard 7-inch screen that sits between the gauges is great, though.
Even the Giulia is still plagued by a strange ergonomics. Apart from the small storage compartments on the center console, there is not much room for things in the door boards. I’m only 5 feet 9 inches tall, but I find my knees hitting the dashboard and Ti Sport’s standard panoramic sunroof cuts into my headroom. There are physical buttons for some of the climate controls, but others are buried in an infotainment menu. And both the rear seat and the trunk are quite narrow in space.
My Giulia has the $ 1,695 Active Assist 2 package which groups auto-dimming mirrors along with driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistance, blind spot assistance, traffic sign recognition, high beam automatic and lane keeping assistance and it’s a package I’ll definitely skip. While Adaptive Cruise is good enough, Lane Keeping Assist is overly sensitive and doesn’t offer a vibration option, so it’s off or on and too intrusive. The front and rear parking sensors are also too sensitive and there is no 360-degree camera available.
For 2021 Alfa Romeo has simplified the trim levels and made the features more standard, but the Giulia is a little more expensive than before. A base Giulia 2.0T Sprint costs $ 40,745 including destination, with AWD hovering over $ 2,000, placing it at the heart of the competition. Each Giulia has features such as dual zone automatic climate control,is , electric trunk lid, 17-inch wheels, front collision warning with automatic braking, rear parking sensors, passive entry and keyless starting.
Upgrading to the top-trim Ti Sport like this one costs $ 6,450 more than a base Giulia. It brings you those cool 19-inch wheels and the aforementioned metal gear levers and sport seats, as well as navigation, panoramic sunroof, black window trims, different grille grille designs, a black sky, sports pedals in aluminum and aluminum interior finishes. With other options like a $ 250 wireless charging pad and $ 995 bi-xenon headlights, my Giulia comes in at $ 58,180.
Not the rational choice
When it comes to the Giulia Quadrifoglio, that car is so phenomenal to drive that it’s easy to overlook the rest of its flaws. Sure, the infotainment might suck and the interior might be nicer, but hey, it has a 505hp engine. When it comes to this four-cylinder model, however, however great the driving experience is, the Giulia’s weaknesses are much more difficult to liquidate. It just doesn’t look special enough in everyday situations.
The Giulia’s problems worsen especially when compared with other cars in its class. Theis they are almost as fun to drive while being much easier to live with on a daily basis, and the is it easily beat the Alfa in terms of refinement and technology. Hell, the it might even beat Alfa in the look department.
If you are looking for a luxury sports sedan that is elegant and fun to drive above all else, the Giulia is the one. No other car in its class is more fun on a good road and you can rest easy knowing you’ve made the most interesting choice. It is not just a choice I would like to live with every day.