The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a new entry into the U.S., a luxury sports sedan that competes with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar XE, and Acura TLX, among others.
The Giulia is stylish, with short front and rear overhangs that give it a sporty stance, and a big Alfa Romeo grille.
Giulia is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that makes a sweet 280 horsepower with an 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It’s a delight to drive, full of gusto, and not far from being as good as the world’s finest sports sedans. The automatic seems confused at times, however.
Also available is the Giulia Quadrifoglio, with a breathtaking 2.9-liter V6 making 505 horsepower.
The cabin is comfortable but seems rough around the edges and doesn’t offer much sense of sitting in an Italian Alfa Romeo.
Alfa Romeo Giulia ($37,995) comes with rear-wheel drive and the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 8-speed automatic. Giulia is available in Sport ($39,245), Ti ($39,995), Ti Lusso ($42,495), and Ti Sport ($42,495). Q4 all-wheel drive is available ($2000).
Giulia Quadrifoglio ($73,500) features 505-horsepower V6.
From the windshield forward, the Giulia looks pretty good. It hangs in there, and on the surface could be a contender for that flattering call as one of the world’s finest sports sedans. The hood is cohesively muscular, with thin vertical faux intakes at the forward sides, on a hump.
The iconic triangular grille is thankfully black instead of chrome; the sides of the triangle that form a V are a thin chrome line, but it doesn’t detract too much. The grille is about as big as it can get away with, to be consistent with the bold hood. The headlamps are slim and lovely, with the corners of their eyes pointing toward the top corners of the grille. But the horizontal black mesh intakes under the grille are hopelessly huge, taking up one-third of the entire face of the car and stealing focus from the grille.
It looks fine in the back three-quarters, from the front doors to the license plate, but not really anything to look twice at.
The one-minute commercial that made its debut at the 2017 Super Bowl sure makes the Giulia look sexy, though. Never mind that when we watched the commercial carefully, we realized there wasn’t a single second showing the car stopped, or close-up.
We found the interior disappointing. Some of the trim is nice, some of it, like that around the base of the seats, looks like mass-produced plastic, no better than what’s in a Mazda6. We wanted the cabin to feel Italian, and it doesn’t. The Alfa badge on the steering wheel helps, but it feels too much like almost any other sedan. The new Honda Accord and almost any Volvo are nicer.
The Ti gets a Harman Kardon audio system and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen. Last year it wasn’t available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the 2018 model is. We found the system challenging to learn. The standard navigation screen is small. The heater fan is noisy.
The Giulia offers spirited handling with a comfortable suspension. The available sports suspension firms it up but isn’t too stiff. The steering is quick and meaty, and the feedback is almost unfiltered, a good and rare thing.
The 8-speed automatic needs some programming work. It gets confused in situations that aren’t too hard to figure out what gear it should be in.
Quadrifoglio means four-leaf clover in Italian, it’s the emblem, and a reminder of the great Alfa-Romeo racing history. So the Quadrifoglio steps up to become the Italian challenger to the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63, with its Italian engine, a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 making 505 rear-wheel-drive horsepower, managed by an 8-speed automatic. The Quadrifoglio with active suspension has drive modes, so it can be perfectly comfortable as a daily driver or raring for the track.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a distinctive entry in the class, setting itself apart from BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes. It’s an enjoyable car to drive, sporty and exhilarating. The interior could be nicer and some of the features are not intuitive.
Mitch McCullough contributed to this report from the Northeast, with staff reports.