ItalPassion and more precisely its founder, myself, have been driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia for several months now. By the way, we will use the word "I" for this test. That's it. So, it has been precisely since the beginning of December 2016 that I have been driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia. So I present you my test after 10,000 km behind the wheel. I won't be really impartial, as you can imagine... But who really is? When you see how brands pamper journalists... But I digress.
To return to the introduction of the essay, and for the record, my Giulia is one of the first French gasoline models because I must be one of the only fools to have ordered mine from the catalog when the petrol models had still not been tested by the press and no demonstration model had been delivered. Second anecdote, my Giulia arrived at the same time as the first demo models. So if the Giulia had youthful defects, mine would have suffered. Third and last anecdote, after I stop, I have been following the development of this car closely since 2012 and while there was no hope to replace my 159, the Giulia is finally in my hands... Oh joy! 🙂
Let's go, let's move on.
The discovery of the Italian beauty
So I get my Alfa Romeo Giulia back in early December 2016. It is a white, Super finish, mixed leather-textile interior (yes, I had full leather in my 159 and I personally find that the leather-textile mix avoids having cold buttocks in winter and hot ones in summer), Harman Kardon pack, comfort pack, assistance pack (rear view camera, front and rear parking radar), steering wheel paddles options and finally red calipers.
I'll stop there on the options level because it goes up fast! 1,500 € for the sunroof, 1,100 € for the active suspensions, 800 € for the 8.8″ navigation screen, etc. You have to make choices. By the way my opinion on some options:
Harman Kardon Pack: Being an amateur audiophile, I didn't want to miss out on the Harman Kardon audio pack, which nevertheless costs 1,000 €. It is quite disappointing. The sound is good, very good but not excellent. Already, I deactivated the "surround" mode which modifies too much the music with a resonance effect not always pleasant. I am very mixed on the interest of the Harman Kardon pack and I wonder if the "Sound Theatre" pack at 540 € is not enough. As a comparison, the Bose in a Renault is just as good and if we compare a car in the same price range, the audio system of a Lexus IS300h is much better. To support my point, a friend of mine drives a Maserati Levante SUV, also equipped with Harman Kardon, and he has the same feeling as me. It's a good sound, but there's still an effort to make on that side.
Comfort pack: so this is the pack you have to take if you take the Harman Kardon pack, thanks Alfa Romeo for the extra 580 €. It offers a lighted driver's sunshade, door handle lighting (pretty cool at night), and a keyless entry system (very practical too but should not be an option, many cars have it nowadays).
Assistance package : for 550 €, it is the INDISPENSABLE pack. It offers the rear view camera and the front and rear parking radar. I can't see myself using the Giulia on a daily basis without the rear view camera and the parking radar.
Steering wheel paddles : It's the option that almost everyone takes to make "sport". It's the option where when someone gets into your car they go "wow, nice paddles". In reality, I almost never use them except to tap my fingers on them in traffic. If I rarely use them, it's because with the 8 speed auto gearbox which is perfect (I'll come back to that), I don't really see the point of the paddles anymore. Even if there would be 6 gears, it's possible, but 8 gears... The rare times when they are used is for some overtaking where I know that the gearbox will not be able to anticipate a downshift. https://www.youtube.com/embed/PlSqWx13CjU?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque
I would add that the ergonomics of the cabin is very well thought out for both the driver and the passenger. For example, the passenger will appreciate the small button easily accessible on the left side of the seat to adjust the volume or to play music without having to reach for it. For the driver, everything is at hand: engine start, radar, start & stop, cruise control, telephone, hazard lights, air conditioning, central door locking, etc. All the essentials are right there where they need to be, a great job.
And if not, does this Giulia look good?
You have to be a bit schizophrenic to answer this question. When you know the brand well and all the marvels it has produced in terms of design over the past decades, the presentation of the Giulia in 2015 has left many people perplexed and even disappointed. And yes, goodbye to the European design of the previous models, welcome to globalization. The new Alfa Romeo must please Europe, China and the United States. This means a design that remains Alfa Romeo's own, but that is more sanitized than what we've seen before. And now you say to me: what do you think of the Giulia's design? I'm coming to that!
Personally, I find that the Giulia has a less timeless design than a 159, a brera, a MiTo or a Giulietta when they were launched in their time. Yet, the Giulia's design is easy to get used to. With the right paint, interior color and wheels, it is possible to have a Giulia with a more sporty look or a Giulia with a more "luxury" look. In short, we have been used to better things in the past but I personally like it (and in the Veloce version, it is even more beautiful!). After that, if I compare it to the competition, it's true that Lexus or Mazda are doing some good things. As Ralph Gilles, head of design for the FCA group, also explained, in the last few years, the best designers have been hired for a lot of money by car groups that were not known for their design...
What is also important to understand with the design of the new Alfa Romeo is that Many non-alficionados think the Giulia looks good. Isn't that the goal of the FCA group? As an anecdote (yes again) a few days after I picked up my Giulia in early December 2016, I remember leaving it in a hypermarket parking lot and when I returned, a person was milling around and was intrigued. He had never heard of the Giulia and knew very little about Alfa Romeo. The Giulia's design caught his attention. Did he win the bet?
Anyone can drive a Giulia
The Giulia's size is impressive. As usual with Alfa Romeo, there are no plastic body protectors on the sides, front and rear, and that's good. On the other hand, be careful when driving. With a length of 4.64 m and a width of 1.86 m, it's a beautiful baby. Yet, the Alfa Romeo Giulia's driving is really pleasant and easy. For comparison's sake, it is as handy as a Fiat 500I'm only caricaturing here. It's much lighter and more direct than many cars I've driven. My wife, who regularly drives a MiTo and didn't like driving my ex-159, enjoys driving the Giulia. She's the one who asks to drive it when we make certain trips because she finds it really handy. So no worries for city dwellers, it goes everywhere!
The Giulia is not a car for geeks
I've already talked about my disappointment with the Harman Kardon package, but beyond the audio, the Giulia isn't a very high-tech car. Yes, it uses carbon fiber, it offers DNA, a navigation system (lucky me) and tire pressure... But that's about it. As options, you get heated seats, power seats, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning (optional when I ordered the car, seems to be standard now).
No full-led lights, no autonomous driving system, no sign reading, no park assist, no Apple Car Play or Google Android Auto... For the moment. Even the GPS is a bit of a pain to use. https://www.youtube.com/embed/wQD9P5UzQio?feature=oembed&wmode=opaquehttps://www.youtube.com/embed/PUTs0oXtP-A?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque
These are some of the features we would like to see as standard or optional. Roberto Fedeli, Alfa Romeo's technical director, explained the reason a few months ago: the brand started from a blank sheet of paper. There were therefore priorities in the development of the car. Hopefully these features will arrive in a few months / years. And then Alfa Romeo has even managed to make a sales argument as you can see below!
The Giulia is a car for real drivers
This brings you to the most important part of this essay, the sporty behavior of the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Harald Wester, former technical director of Alfa Romeo, promised it sworn during the presentation of the Alfa Romeo product plan in 2014, future Alfa Romeo cars must have :
- Innovative and technologically advanced engines;
- Perfect weight distribution (50 - 50);
- A set of exclusive technologies;
- An excellent weight/power ratio;
- An Italian design.
Reid Bigland, current director of Alfa Romeo, goes even further by announcing that the new Alfa Romeo must compete with BMW and even Porsche. So is it all a big lie or not?
Well, no. You should know that at Alfa Romeo, the gasoline engines are 200 hp, 280 hp or 510 hp. No less. Then a Giulia is from 1,374 to 1,580 kg in curb weight. It's rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It's from 330 to 600 Nm in torque.
To give you an idea, the Alfa Romeo Giulia petrol 2.0 turbo of 200 hp is, according to the manufacturer's data, 235 km / h of Vmax and a 0 to 100 km / h in 6.6 sec. The weight/power ratio offers the Alfa Romeo Giulia a very sporty behavior. We are always above the speed limits, so much so that I think that with a 200 HP Giulia, you would have to go on a racetrack to really exploit its full potential. This is even more true with the 280 HP Giulia (see Alfa Romeo Giulia 280 HP test drive) and even mandatory for a Giulia with 510 hp.https://www.youtube.com/embed/vu08q8xohQc?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque
I never get tired of commuting to work in a Giulia. Every journey is enjoyable. Either in smooth driving mode N of the DNA selector, or in dynamic driving mode D of the DNA. To get an idea of the driving sensation, you have to try it. I don't regret that the engine starts at 200 hp, I think that below that (at least in petrol) it would have degraded the image that Alfa Romeo wants to give to these new models. As you can imagine, it is not made for "crazy" drivers because there is enough power under the pedal to become a danger on the road...
Regarding fuel consumption, compared to the 5.8 L / 100 km announced by the manufacturer, the first week, I drove at about 15 L / 100 km. Then it gradually decreased and today I'm running at 7.5 L / 100 km in mixed driving. This is still good for a 200 hp gasoline.
The sound of the 2.0 turbo gasoline is pleasant. It's quiet as can be at low revs in smooth driving, and it knows how to make itself heard at high revs. So of course, forget the old Alfa Romeo naturally-aspirated engines. Today, we think about fuel consumption, CO2 and we add a turbo to increase the torque. https://www.youtube.com/embed/q3Hq843Ud-4?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque
If you were driving a diesel car and you switch to gasoline, it will be night and day!
Drop your German, your French, your Japanese, 5 reasons to switch to Italian!
What? Are you still reading this review? You haven't contacted your nearest Alfa Romeo dealer yet? In that case, I'll tell you why you should really that you forget your prejudices about Alfa Romeo :
1 - The new Alfa Romeo cars, including the Giulia, are developed from a blank sheet of paper by Ferrari and Maserati engineers, including Philippe Krief, Ferrari's technical director. You will be sitting behind the wheel of a car designed by people who design superscars !
2 - If you have any prejudices about Alfa Romeo's manufacturing and finishing, they are in the past. The new Alfa Romeo is premium. In 10,000 km not a strange noise in the cabin, not a part that has moved. Moreover, it is made in Italy in the completely modernized factory of Cassino.
3 - The Giulia is a sedan for drivers who like the feeling of driving. If you too enjoy taking every turn on the road like on a racetrack, this Giulia is for you.
4 - If you are one of those who are fed up with diesel, 200 hp, 280 hp and 510 hp gasoline engines will prove you right at 200 %.
5 - Have you looked at all the different brands: Audi, Volvo, BMW, Lexus? Never 4 without 5, go to Alfa Romeo !
6 (bonus) - You can finally learn your first Italian words with "la meccanica delle emozioni".