When Alfa Romeo Ireland announced the prices for the new Giulia, I can remember being very wary. I mean setting an entry level price of just under €40,000 is a bit steep, right? Especially when you can get into entry levels of its main competitors, the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4 for a lot less. Nope, I was wrong. The devil is in the detail in this instance. You see, while you can sit your bum into both the 3-Series and the A4 for less (€36,570 for the 3 Series, €35,300 for the A4), what you're getting with the 3 Series at that price is the 318i with a 1.5 litre engine and a power output of 136 hp. While the Audi A4 offering comes with a 1.4 litre engine, 150 bhp and a 6-speed manual box. What you're getting with the Giulia, is a 2.2 litre diesel engine with 150bhp. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking either the entry level A3 or the 3-Series, but what I am saying is that if I was being fair to Alfa, I would compare like with like and I would look at the engines and trim selection of both the BMW and the Audi models. So, with that in mind, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia costs €5 more than an entry level A4 with a 2.0 litre 150bhp TDI engine, and per BMW Ireland's website, if you opt for an entry level 320d, you get a 2-litre engine with 187 hp for about €3,325 more - which is the premium you pay for the extra power. So now the entry level price for the Giulia doesn't look as unreasonable.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a real head turner – in fact, it made me feel like I did when I drove the Ford Mustang. People were happy to see it. During my week with the car, I've had people pull their cars up next to me for a chat. I've been given the thumbs up at traffic lights, and I even met one guy who parked his Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon next to me so he could get a few photos of Alfa's latest offering. That last guy, with the 159, he was a real gent. I've never owned an Alfa, but according to its reputation, they can be a bit expensive to own. So, the first question I asked this guy about his 2008 159 was, "is it a money pit?". Reluctantly he replied that it was, but, that he still loved his car. He told me that his brother was constantly at him to change to a new A4. My new friend said that while his wife, his brother and his friends wanted to get rid of the car, he wouldn't (or just couldn’t). In fact, he said that if he was to sell it today, he'd probably only get a grand, but he'd rather spend a few thousand bringing it back to good health and keep it for a few more years. Now, that's dedication. That's the thing that I've learned about Alfa Romeo fans during my week with the car. They know cars. They know that the Alfa could turn into a money pit, but they are in it for the enjoyment. They are in it for the fun, and they are in it to turn heads. In my view, your average Alfa owner, knows a lot more about the car that they drive than a lot of other drivers know about theirs. They love their Alfas for their personality and sexiness. And I respect that.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia - even in its non Quadrifoglio guise, is a very easy car to fall in love with. It's beautiful design, it's driver-focused cockpit, and its personality won me over straight away. The “V” to the front looks perfect. It also helped that I was given the Giulia with the 2.2 litre diesel engine offering 180bhp. On the road, this car handles like a dream. We brought it up the Dublin mountains for a video shoot and I remember thinking, as I was taking the many twisty bends, that this car is as fun to drive as the Mazda MX-5. It's involving, and the sharpness of the steering and the car's superb handling had me at hello (yep... I quoted a line from Gerry Maguire - sorry). This is a nice car to put the foot down in, and it will bring you from 0-100km/h in just 7.1 seconds.
Our Alfa Romeo Giulia was mated to an extremely smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. Some markets benefit from a six-speed manual box, but as far as I’m aware, Ireland and the UK won’t be benefitting from it. Trust me when I say that the automatic is easy to live with. If you’re not happy with the gear changes, the Giulia comes with beautiful aluminium flappy paddles which are anchored to the steering wheel column – it feels great, and this is one of the few cars in which I actually wanted to use the flappy paddles. Usually, I prefer it when the car makes the changes for me – isn’t that the idea behind an automatic transmission?
The dashboard is basic enough when you compare it to the likes of BMW and Audi. However, while the others may present their systems excellently (check out the Audi MMI system here), the Alfa dash looks very stylish. There’s black glass on the dashboard and embedded in that is a very neat screen. The system is driver-focused, but basic enough. Other than how great it looks, there’s nothing spectacular about what the system can do. The instrument binnacle is basic enough. However, it does have a small TFT screen which shows driving information, etc.
In terms of fuel economy, I returned the car after two hundred kilometres and I returned 10.1 l/100km. This isn’t a good return, nor is it a fair reflection of what could be achieved from the vehicle. I was putting pressure on it – so my figure is not reflective of how economical that the car can be.
Our model was the “Super Sport” trim. Other trims include the “Lux” and “Super Lux”. There’s nice plastics within the car and very much a carbon effect on some of the materials. The dash felt soft and spongey, while the steering wheel felt momentous. The steering wheel was thick enough and surrounded by black leather and a small bit of cloth. It’s amazing how the feeling of a steering wheel can add to how the car feels when you’re driving it. I also loved the fact that the ignition button is embedded on the steering wheel.
Rear legroom feels comfortable for four adults and it seems par for the course within the segment. The boot is also competitive, but there’s a strangely shaped entrance to the trunk, so getting larger items into it can be awkward. The boot isn’t the only storage problem within the car. The cubbies in the Giulia are incredibly small. None of the storage pockets are expansive – a lot of people may not care about this, but for me it is important.
As I’ve said already, the entry level price tag for the Alfa Romeo Giulia is €39,995. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio version, with its 510bhp from its 2.9-litre V6 Bi-Turbo engine, will bring you up to €99,945. Our test model starts from €43,966.
I can’t tell the future and say that this will be the most trustworthy car that you will ever drive. I can’t say that it will always be reliable. What I can say is that this car offers brilliant fun, sexy looks, and a lovely driving experience. If you’re an Alfa person though, a test drive in this should be on your list of things to do this week! Would I buy one myself? While I adore this car, I’m afraid I wouldn’t. With my short budget, investing in a reputation that screams possible future expense, it’s just not possible.