Alfa Romeo Giulia Review: Svelte Italian

Alfa Romeo Giulia Review: Svelte Italian

Be prepared to be seduced by a handsome Italian. Alfa is back on form with the Giulia.

Alfa Romeo has long been one of the most glamorous car brands, with its snake badge, Italian style and its reputation for romantic, exciting-to-drive cars. How perfect it was that when Dustin Hoffman eloped with the heroine in the iconic 1960s film, The Graduate, it was in a sexy little Alfa Romeo Spider.

Over recent years, though, it has been easy to overlook Alfa Romeo. The Italian car maker’s glory days seemed to have been consigned to the past, with some of the later Alfas more corporate than sexy.

Now Alfa is happily back on an upward curve, with a range headed by the ultra-sexy 4C sports car in coupe and cabriolet versions, and the company’s first SUV – named Stelvio, after the revered great driving road Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps – due later this year.

Alfisti-pleasing Giulia

But the pivotal car in Alfa’s revival is its new Giulia, a car that undoubtedly puts a big smile back on the faces of Alfisti – as Alfa enthusiasts are known – with its svelte style and totally engaging behaviour.

The Giulia comes 50 years after the launch of the original car that bore the same name. More importantly, it is a long-awaited replacement for the Alfa 159 that was in production from 2004 to 2011.

That car, designed by the famed Italian stylish Giugiaro, was a result of collaboration between Alfa’s owner Fiat, and General Motors. There has been a yawning six-year gap before the arrival of its successor.

Safety first

Now, with the Giulia, Alfa is right back on form and doing what it does best. This is a sporty saloon car with a bold extrovert style, vivid performance and great handling. It looks and feels like a thoroughbred, one of the most enjoyable cars for sheer driver engagement that we’ve driven in a long time.

It is rear-wheel-drive, comes in a choice of petrol and diesel engines, and has an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode via paddle shifts. There is a fully manual gearbox, but it isn’t offered here in the UK.

The Giulia happily has excellent safety credentials, with a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test safety rating that was achieved with the highest ever recorded adult occupancy score.

Another plus with the Giulia is its classy cabin, which exudes Italian flair, from the swooping dash-top to the snugly driver-focused cockpit. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a sporty touch, and we love the stylish black-and-tan decor of the test car.

Driver heaven

What’s so good about the way the Giulia drives? It is such fun to handle, tactile and beguiling, involving you from the first moment behind the wheel. The car is built on a new sports platform, with all-new mechanicals – new engines, new suspension design, and is set up to restore Alfa’s reputation as a sporty car brand. It does.

It has tautly sharp handling and terrific performance. Even the down-the-range two-litre petrol engine in our test car boasts a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 6.6 seconds, and it’s capable of twice the UK legal limit if you were to take it flat out on a derestricted German autobahn.

The engine isn’t loud, and general refinement is pretty reasonable, but it’s the feel and eagerness of the Giulia that is so engaging. The ride is a bit on the firm side, as you would expect of a sporty car, but not uncomfortably so. This new Giulia is a honey.

On-the-road Giulia prices start from £29,550 for a two-litre petrol model, and the nine-model range tops out at an eye-watering £59,804 for the flagshop three-litre petrol Quadrifolgio, with a sizzling 3.9 seconds 0-62 acceleration time and a top speed quoted at 191 mph.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Stats Review

Model tested: Giulia Super Turbo Auto

Top speed:  146 mph

0-62 mph:  6.6 secs

Economy:  47.9 mpg

CO2:  138 g/km

Price:   £31,450

Images: Sue Baker

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Sue Baker is a seasoned motoring journalist with a love of all things automotive.

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