Alfa Romeo has been in the doldrums for a long time. Once the pride of the Italian brands in the 1960s and 70s most of their recent products have fallen short of expectations.
Because Alfa has its Mojo back, in the shape of the all-new Giorgio styled Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan that is claimed to be the renaissance of the 107-year-old brand.
It’s designed, engineered and built in Italy and is the first rear-drive Alfa Romeo in a quarter of a century.
Fittingly this premium sedan has been bestowed with the brand’s most revered nameplate ‘Giulia’, which has reappeared after 40 years.
While all that is very nostalgic, its success will be how it stacks up against the usual luxo suspects, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi in the uber-competitive mid-size premium sector?
After spending a week behind the wheel of the $59,900 entry-level Alfa Romeo Giulia, I reckon it’s going to shake up the establishment like never before and give them a real run for their money.
For starters, the Giulia is gorgeous from every angle; as though an artist rather than a designer has penned it. It is a Giorgio masterpiece.
What’s more, there is plenty of substance to back up its seductive visual charms.
Powering the Giulia is a four-cylinder all-aluminium, direct injected, twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 147 kW 330Nm, with bags of mid-range torque. And when you give it a rev its raspy exhaust note sounds like the glorious Alfas of old.
Bolted to it is a sweet shifting eight-speed ZF auto gearbox that keeps it the engine planted in the torque band and ready for action. In manual mode oversize paddle shifts let you flick through the gears for extra engagement.
My first taste of the directness, fluidity and sensitivity of the steering came as I tipped it into the first bend. Connected to such a lithe chassis means the Giulia is best driven by the fingertips with minimal, gentle inputs like a true sports car.
Fling it at corners and it hugs apexes like a mum hugs a newborn, feeling very settled thanks to its 50/50 weight distribution and when you nail the throttle the big Pirelli P-Zeros grab the bitumen and arrow you at the horizon. The brakes, like the steering, are sensitive and grab quickly so take getting used to, but once you’ve mastered them they’re brilliant and the Giulia is a much better car for it. You really feel involved with the car, rare these days.
Working through the DNA drive-mode selector I tried the pre-set offerings and then tailored my own. Dynamic was the first stopping point with its aggressive settings. What surprised me was the suppleness of the ride that didn’t impair its brilliant handling. I softened the suspension appreciably by selecting Comfort but was pleased to discover it kept the snappier throttle and gearshift responses and heavier steering feel. Perfect.
Like the outside, the interior has plenty of flair with leather upholstery that extends to the dash and door trims. Touches of chrome, carbon fibre and piano black garnish give it a genuine premium and sporty feel. There are the shrouded instruments, like earlier Alfas and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, with digital radio, sat-nav and 10-speaker audio system. It’s roomy up front but a bit of a squeeze for taller folk in the back.
For an entry model the Giulia is well kitted out with beautifully sculptured alloy wheels, bi-Xenon headlamps, keyless go, stop/start, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
Although Giulia misses out on the higher models sports seats, the standard pews are terrific and feature three-stage heating.
The Giulia’s high waistline has it sacrificing some visibility and one gripe I have is the thickness of the A-pillars. Trying to see through right-hand corners isn’t easy and spotting smaller objects like cyclists and motorcyclists at roundabouts is quite tricky.
On the safety front, the Giulia has Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Brake and pedestrian recognition, Integrated Brake System, and Lane Departure Warning systems.
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia more than recreates the appeal and cache of its iconic badge and is a genuine competitor to the German luxury brands.
It looks superb, is well specced, has a genuine premium look and feel to it and above all is the involving and sporty way it drives. If you have any interest in having fun behind the wheel, go and drive the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
For more information on the Alfa Romeo Giulia head to their website.