The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is straight out the prettiest car, within an achievable financial reach, on sale in Ireland. The Giulia range starts from €39,995 with my test car priced at €56,645. Now, I could sit here and write 1,000 words riddled with cheesy Italian clichés like that the car is “Bello” and “Fantastico” but this car deserves more respect than that.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia sits in a competitive segment. One that is saturated with BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class buyers. When Alfa Romeo released the 159’s replacement in 2015, after the predecessor ceased production, the world was very pleased indeed. We were hoping for another seductive Italian saloon like the 156 and 155 of days gone by. And that we got. Although, it’s too early to tell whether the Giulia will take after it’s ancestors in terms of reliability.
As soon as you are within the vicinity of the Giulia Veloce, you truly know it. The Misano Blue paint, 19” Veloce alloys with yellow callipers lurking behind is a combination that can only be described as “Offt!”. The presence that the Giulia has is rather impressive. I attended Cars and Coffee at the weekend and I watched in awe as fellow car enthusiasts expressed their interest in it.
The triangular grill with the off-centre reg pays homage to the Alfas of old. The rear defuser with large, circular exhaust tips each side make the correct statement. They make a nice rumble from cold too, I had some comforting mornings with the 1-degree frostiness during my week.
The interior is very fresh, clean and tidy. The centre console isn’t plastered with buttons, or blank ones at that. Instead, the faux-aluminium panel houses the infotainment scroller, radio volume controls, the DNA switch, cupholders and the gear shifter for the 8-speed ZF gearbox. The black leather with contrast stitching sport seats honour the ones that are found on the Alfas of the 60’s and 70’s. Alfa have taken a page out of Ferrari’s book and put the start button on the steering wheel. Behind the multi-functional steering wheel, are the massive, metal paddles. They feel like proper paddles when shifting too, unlike the buttons found on some Volkswagen AG models.
Space to the rear is very cramped. With the driver seat in my driving position, all 6-foot of me had very little leg room. Although, the quality of materials used to the rear were as good as the ones up front, not usually found on many cars these days. As for the boot, it offers 480l. This is on par with the 3-Series and A4 but it’s shallow so feels a lot less.
The Giulia is a typical Alfa Romeo; it has many flaws that could be solved from it’s competitors but they don’t have the same charisma the Alfa does. When I first picked up the Giulia Veloce, I went for a drive. I took it to some quiet backroads, ones that would make you fall in love with an Alfa. I found that the Giulia was very tail happy and always wanted to kick out. I’m perfectly fine with this, I’m always up for a challenge. However, I’m not OK with the fact that you can’t turn off the traction control. What this results in is a couple of seconds of laughter before the car is sitting dead in the middle of the road because the ESP kicked in a cut all the power. Not only did it do it on a backroad, similarly when I put the foot down to overtake a bus, in a controlled manner, the rear wheels spun and I sat there not being able to do anything. From first impressions, I was genuinely disappointed, as much as it pains me to say it.
From Alfa’s DNA switch, the Giulia has Natural, Dynamic and Advanced driving modes. In Natural, the executive saloon is a comfortable daily. The motorway miles are eaten from the comfort of the black, leather stitched sports seats. In Advanced, it makes tackling greasy or icy surfaces unchallenging. Switching to Dynamic is when I expected the Quadrifoglio-esque saloon to break loose, let it’s hair down and serenade me with the song of it’s people.
It might seem as if I am slating the Veloce over the fact that you can’t turn off the ESP and I am. But, why make a more “dynamic” version of an executive car to hold back on the driving dynamic? It’s senseless. This was until I took it onto a similarly technical road but this time with gradual bends and curves to the road. In this situation, the Giulia feels planted to the road. The car feels very sure of itself and confident of how you negotiate the road. The driving experience is quite bi-polar.
I learned that you have to get to know the Giulia. It’s a different driving experience from any other car I’ve ever driven. This being that it’s flaws are contagious and once you get the Giulia on a good day, you forget all the things you dislike. At low speeds, the steering is engaging, you feel where the wheels are at any given time – unlike some other cars with adaptive steering. The same goes for the hoonable roads; You’re glad to see some nice bends up ahead.
I noticed every morning as I pulled out of the driveway, the front wheels slipped as I turned – Almost as if it was understeering but at 5km/h. This is normal for cars with a wide track as the front wheels tilt as you turn. But, it was more noticeable on the Giulia. It’s quirky too. It took three people and about 20 minutes to find the bonnet release latch. The manual says that it is in the passenger footwell when in fact, it is actually underneath the steering wheel and is discretely hidden. Oh, Alfa!
As my week came to an end, I had fully figured out the Veloce. I can see it as a motorway cruiser rather than a backroad bruiser. As for my verdict, you’re going to hate me. As much as the Giulia is flawed, I still want one. Every time I got into it, I loved it. I was happy to start my journey whether it was my morning commute or just nipping down to the shops. It’s toxic. Would I recommend you buy one, yes. At least consider it before you opt for an A4 or 3-Series.
I dislike so many things about the car but I just can’t get enough of it. In saying this, it took me the whole week to come to this conclusion, the car grows on you. Yes, you can have a BMW 330i M-Sport for the same money but it’s not an Alfa. It doesn’t feel as special as an Alfa. It doesn’t get the same respect or looks as the Alfa does. It’s such a lovable car. Now I understand Alfa owners, I get you.