Cons: Infotainment display screen, interior storage space
Alfa Romeo has a strong reputation for building great executive saloons thanks to cars like the 156 and 159, however the Italian manufacturer has been lacking a strong offering in the segment in recent years. That's set to change for 2017, as Alfa Romeo recently launched a stylish new model in Ireland, the Giulia. Built on a rear wheel drive platform and blessed with good looks, the Giulia competes with class leaders like the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Carzone spent a week with this new Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Sport on Irish roads to see if has what it takes to beat the leading German-built cars in the segment.
What is it like?
Alfa Romeo is renowned for building stylish cars and that certainly continues with the Giulia. From its classic v-shaped Alfa Romeo front grille, to its swooping side profile and protruding rear LED lights, the Giulia offers a fresh look and stands out from other cars in the class. 17-inch alloy wheels are standard across the range, and while the Monte Carlo blue colour scheme of our test car is a nice combination, we’d opt for a classic Alfa Romeo red instead.
If the Guilia is going to compete with cars like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, then the cabin needs to offer high quality materials and elements of luxury, and we’re glad to say it doesn't dissapoint. Stepping inside, the Giulia feels well-built with a beautiful dashboard design where the display screen for the infotainment system is neatly tucked away, but neither the display quality or user friendliness of the system is up to the same standards as other cars in the class. Space is plentiful up front with lots of head and leg room and supportive seats, and the rear seats are quite spacious too. Storage space throughout the cabin for items like water bottles and smart phones is confined, but the boot makes up for this with 480 litres of space.
The Giulia is available with a few different engines including a barnstorming 510hp Ferrari-powered unit known as the Quadrifoglio, but we drove the entry level 2.2JTD 150hp diesel version, which is likely to be the go-to choice for most buyers. The 2.2 JTD is a lively engine and offers prompt acceleration, with 0-100km/h taking just over eight seconds, and there’s plenty of low down grunt available with 450Nm of torque. Our test car has an eight-speed automatic transmission which shifts smoothly and precisely, although the diesel engine is a little noisy at higher speeds. We managed around five litres per 100 kilometres of driving (48 MPG) with a mixture of driving in the midlands, while annual motor tax comes in at €280.
Out on the road, the Giulia turns promptly and handles more precisely than its predecessor, the Alfa Romeo 159, mainly due to the new rear-wheel-drive platform. Through tight turns and corners the Giulia is lots of fun and it’s not far off the class best BMW 3 Series. It’s quite comfortable at motorway speeds too with low wind noise and good ride quality on smooth roads, but as we mentioned earlier, the diesel engine can be noisy. Alfa Romeo’s D.N.A drive system allows you to alternate between different driving modes that adjust throttle sensitivity, the weight of the steering and more.
Prices for the new Alfa Romeo Giulia start from €39,995, which means it is in similar territory to the new BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Standard specification is very good with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear tail lights, cruise control, rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and autonomous emerge braking amongst other features included as standard. Our Super Lux specification test car is the highest specification model in the range (excluding the Quadrifoglio) and enjoys full leather upholstery, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera, but the price rises accordingly.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Giulia is an impressive new proposition from Alfa Romeo that competes with the best cars in the class, thanks to a high quality cabin, attractive looks and a very engaging drive. The Giulia’s diesel engine range is a strong point too with good performance and economy, which should appeal to Irish buyers seeking a sensible choice. The Giulia isn’t the most practical choice in the class however, with limited storage space in the cabin and the infotainment system isn’t up to the same standards as its German rivals (3 Series and C-Class).