An Italian job: Alfa Romeo Giulia has distinctive looks, performance

Alfa Romeo says the Giulia Ti model embodies ‘La meccanica delle emozioni’ (the mechanics of emotion) spirit, delivering a class-leading 280 horsepower. The Giulia is the first of a new generation of vehicles on an all-new platform. Metro News Service photo
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Alfa Romeo says the Giulia Ti model embodies ‘La meccanica delle emozioni’ (the mechanics of emotion) spirit, delivering a class-leading 280 horsepower. The Giulia is the first of a new generation of vehicles on an all-new platform. Metro News Service photo

“What kind of car is that?” “Where is it made?” These were the questions I had regarding my tester this week. It is the distinctively sexy 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia. And oh, by the way, it’s made in Italy. The Alfa Romeo Giulia is very European-looking. That’s a good thing when it comes to a sporty car. The name, although it doesn’t roll off the tongue, even sounds foreign (pronounced like the name Julia).

So, can this Alfa Romeo resonate with the American consumer here on U.S. soil? It has a very niche market, for sure, but in today’s automotive world of bland and blah, the Giulia is a standout. Alfa Romeo is a brand owned by Fiat-Chrysler (FCA). FCA has done an admirable job marketing this car. Their commercials are on point and project the right vibe for the Alfa Romeo brand. It’s young and hip and sexy. Indeed, it’s bold and beautiful.

The simplistic styling culminates on the front end where a small, triangular grille has distinction. Squinty LED head lights flank the pointy, aggressively styled grille. Indentations on the hood angle toward the grille as well, giving the car a smooth-flowing front end.

Chiseled side panels give the Giulia a bold profile. A subtle, but sexy, rear spoiler leads to an attractive back end that is highlighted by dual chrome exhaust tips. The styling on the back end is just right, not overstyled, but aggressively styled to fit the car’s persona. Finally, this is a car that has actual personality – and an engine to match).

Speaking of the powerplant, it’s one of those that overperforms its numbers. The base engine, which my tester had, is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. That doesn’t seem very sporty, and if you judge it merely by the 280-hp output, it might not impress, but it’s one of those cars that performs way above its numbers.

Off the line it’s quick. There’s no turbo lag with the outstanding eight-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters are available, but I found them to be intrusive. There’s even a little bit of an engine purr that offers exhilaration.

The two Alfa Romeo’s I’ve driven have both been tremendous performers. Enthusiasts may opt for the blazing Giulia Quadrifoglio which has a 2.9-liter V6 and 505 hp. I couldn’t imagine how awesome that car must drive, because the standard Giulia still was exhilarating.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, and preferred by enthusiasts, but my tester had all-wheel drive, which when combined with the firm, responsive steering, handles amazingly well. Twists and turns of the road make driving fun again. Say goodbye to the ho-hum performance of most of the smaller cars on the road. The Giulia blows them away.

The interior shows why Alfa Romeo is a brand affiliated with luxury. As special as it looks on the outside, it’s just as special inside. Supple materials are used throughout. The leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel gives a race-car vibe, but feels great in your hands. The ambient lighting is a nice, subtle touch. The back seat is surprisingly big as the five-passenger Giulia has 35 inches of rear legroom and 37 inches of headroom. I wouldn’t attempt to install three adults in the back seat, but two will be very comfortable.

There is only 12 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. This is below average for this segment. There is 40/20/40 rear seat split that expands the cargo area. But, you’re not considering buying the Giulia for cargo room.

The 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen is embedded in the center dash, which helps shield it from annoying sun glare. It doesn’t use FCA’s standard Uconnect system, which is a shame because that’s one of my favorites. But, the dial/knob-based infotainment is still reasonably intuitive. The navigation is based on Google Earth and that’s always a great, technologically advanced feature.

The options and trims can be confusing with a pairing of the Quadrifoglio and AWD/RWD, but my tester was the Giulia TI Sport with AWD. Base price of this vehicle is $41,995. Lower-trimmed Giulias start in the upper $30s.

My tester was loaded with options (which is European). Packages included the sport trim along with the TI leather package (which has gorgeous and bold leather seats and dash) along with a driver assistance package. All told, my tester had a final MSRP of $51,885, making this small car pricey and certainly at the luxury-level.

The EPA ratings of the AWD Giulia are 23 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway. I was thrilled with the fuel economy for a car that was so much fun to drive. I averaged just over 26 mpg in a week’s worth of heavy-footed driving.

This Italian import is a thing of beauty, from the outside to the inside. The Alfa Romeo Giulia will make my top 10 favorite vehicles of 2018.


2018 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA TI SPORT

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $41,995/$51,885
  • Mileage…………………………………… 23 mpg/city; 31 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 280 hp/306 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Cassino, Italy

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