ALFA ROMEO GIULIA 2016 FIRST TEST
Just look at it. Isn’t it gorgeous? We all know that #Alfa-Romeo
has a fine reputation for producing beautiful cars, but in the past, when you delve under the skin, the parts that matter haven’t been quite so glorious.
Alfa is a marque that you really want to be passionate about, but your gut feeling tells you to be cautious. There have been so many fresh starts for the brand that when you hear about another set of exciting plans to revive the company, your head says “oh yes, what again”, while your heart falls in love with the stylish design. This time we are told it is different, and what was a blank sheet of paper three years ago has been transformed into this stylish beast that you see before you. Designed without any compromises, the Giulia goes head-to- head with the trio of German brands, as well as Jaguar’s XE, and while prices have yet to be announced, Alfa Romeo has hinted that it will be priced directly in line with the BMW 320d. The Giulia’s platform will underpin a range of future cars to proudly wear the Alfa Romeo badge, including a fashionable SUV that will arrive on the market next year, allegedly wearing the Stelvio nameplate.
If the exterior delivers serious wow factor, when you climb into the cabin for the first time, that goes double, as Alfa Romeo’s stylists have pulled out all of the stops. The two-tone beige and leather ambience is appealing and this is one of the few real wood and leather combinations that feels truly convincing.
Most of the materials used are high quality, though there is the odd surface that feels out of place, but detailing like the circular air vents look and feel phenomenal. There’s a Ferrari-mimicking engine start button on the steering wheel, and the controls for the infotainment system are perfectly positioned behind the gear lever, for ease of use. The 8.8- inch touchscreen at first glance looks neatly integrated into the architecture of the dashboard, but in reality it’s located a little lower than is ideal and you’ll spend too much time with your eyes off the road, checking for information like navigation instructions and the speed limit display, with the latter better located on the central display between the dials.
The driving position is comfortable, with generous adjustment to both the chairs and the steering wheel, while the leather seats on our Super model with Luxury pack were beautifully supportive and satisfying after a couple of hours in the driver’s seat. Up front there’s a generous amount of headroom, though avoid the sunroof if you’re likely to carry taller passengers in the back, as it robs the car of vital headroom. Knee room is average for the class, and providing the driver hasn’t got the seat in its lowest position, there’s a reasonable amount of foot space, too. And if you’re likely to need to carry a third passenger in the back, bear in mind that there’s a sizeable hump running through the centre of the car, and it works best as a four-seater. Visibility from the driver’s seat is generally good when reversing, but the position of the A-pillars can make manoeuvring out of an awkwardly angled junction tricky.
The Giulia borrows its engine from the Jeep Cherokee and is available in 148 and 177bhp guises. While manual gearbox variants are available in Europe, Alfa Romeo in the UK has taken the decision to sell the Giulia here exclusively with the eight-speed automatic transmission.
And having spent some time in the manual car, we believe that they have made the right move, as the self-shifting gearbox makes a better impression. Performance from the 177bhp 2.2-litre engine is relatively punchy, but it never feels particularly fast. At most speeds the engine is nicely refined and quiet, only becoming noticeable when you plant the accelerator pedal into the bulkhead.
Road noise is nicely muted, however, at motorway speeds there’s more sound from the wind than you would ideally like. Alfa Romeo claims that the Giulia has the most direct steering on the market, and that is certainly true.
It’s hugely responsive and changes direction sharply. Body control is good, and there’s decent agility through the bends, while grip levels are sufficiently high. But we can’t help feeling that while all of the ingredients for a great car are there, what is missing is the fun factor. Like other models in the line-up, there’s Alfa’s DNA system that allows you to alter the characteristics of the car using three different modes. What is impressive though is the ride comfort, with all but the deepest of potholes soaked up nicely, making it the most comfortably riding Alfa Romeo in years, and perhaps ever.
TECH DATA #2016
On sale September 2016
In showrooms September 2016
Prices £ tba
Bodystyles 4-door saloon
Engines 2.2 (148bhp) 2.2 (177bhp)
Trim levels Giulia, Super
Also consider Audi A4, BMW 3 Series F30
Model tested Super 2.2 MultiJet II
Price £ tba
Made in Cassino, Italy
Configuration 4-door saloon, 5-seats, rear-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 2143cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged diesel with stop-start and selective catalyst reduction
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Power output 177bhp @ 3,750rpm
Maximum torque 332lb ft @ 1,750rpm
Top speed 143mph
CO2 emissions (Tax band) 109g/km (B)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 53.3/80.7/67.3mpg
Fuel tank size/range 52 litres/770 miles
Insurance group tba
Company car benefit-in-kind rate 21%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,643/2,024mm
Boot space 480 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight 1,445/1,600kg
Euro NCAP crash test rating Not yet tested
Verdict Stunning looks, superb ride comfort and affordable running costs make this the best Alfa Romeo for years.
DieselCar rating 5