The Alfa Romeo Giulia is now on sale in Britain, priced from £29,180.
The entry-level model costs £4020 more than the base version of its key rival, the BMW 3 Series, but the Alfa comes with a larger, more potent engine than the BMW and a generous list of standard features, ensuring it should be a strong contender against its established rivals.
British buyers can choose from five trim levels for Alfa's new saloon: Giulia, Giulia Super, Giulia Tecnica, Giulia Speciale and the range-topping Giulia Quadrifoglio. More details for each can be found below. The range-topping Quadrifoglio version of the car, which features a Ferrari-derived 3.0-litre V6 with 503bhp, costs from £59,000.
Besides the Quadrifoglio model, three engines will be available in the Giulia. These include a 197bhp, 243lb ft, turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, which is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Compare that with the entry-level BMW engine, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit, and even the base Alfa looks suitably well endowed.
Next are two 2.2-litre diesels, the most powerful of which produces 178bhp and 332lb ft of torque. It’s capable of emitting less than 100g/km of CO2 in Eco specification. The other diesel comes with 148bhp and 280lb ft.
Both engines can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
All models will have rear-wheel drive as standard, but all-wheel drive will be available on some versions. Alfa Romeo says the car has a perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution and it features multi-link suspension at the rear and double wishbones at the front.
The Giulia has an unladen weight of 1374kg in 178bhp 2.2-litre diesel form.
Alfa Romeo says electronic aids on the Giulia are used only to make the driving experience more exciting. For example, the new integrated braking system mixes the traditional stability control set-up with a servo brake, reducing weight and vibrations through the pedal.
Other safety and assistance systems include autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, optional adaptive cruise control and blindspot monitoring.
Drivers can choose from three driving modes via Alfa’s DNA drive selector. In addition, range-topping Quadrifoglio models get a Race option.
The five-seat cabin features an 8.8in infotainment system, controlled via a rotary pad on the centre console. The system features compatibility for Apple and Android devices, Bluetooth and satellite navigation. Depending on the specification, the Giulia has either a 3.5in or 7.0in colour display as part of the instrument cluster.
In entry-level Giulia form, the car sits on 16in alloy wheels and has LED rear lights, a fabric interior, 3.5in TFT driver’s information screen, 6.5in infotainment screen and a leather steering wheel. Cruise control, dual-zone climate control and lane departure warning are three of several key features offered as standard.
Pay £30,880 for a Super model and Alfa will add 17in alloys, twin exhaust pipes and part-leather seats, as well as an 8.8in infotainment screen and two-tone interior trim. Add £115 to that price and the Tecnica falls into reach, bringing a rear reversing camera, privacy glass, chrome window surrounds and a cooled glovebox.
The highest-spec non-performance Giulia, the Speciale, costs from £34,150 and has bi-xenon headlights, heated front seats, a leather-clad steering wheel, 18in alloys and sports bumpers front and rear.
The Quadrifoglio range-topper gets an even more aggressive look and optional Personalisation Pack, which brings features such as wheel-mounted paddle shifters, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and electric front seats. There's also an autonomous emergency braking system and blindspot monitoring to head a long list of driver assist features.
Alfa Romeo says the new Giulia “embodies the core elements which have made Alfa Romeo one of the world's best-loved automotive brands: distinctive Italian design; innovative powertrains, perfect weight distribution, unique technical solutions and the best weight-to-power ratio."
Alfa's newly announced pricing ranks the Giulia above some of its key rivals, including the £25,160 BMW 3 Series, the £26,350 Audi A4, the £27,665 Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the £26,990 Jaguar XE. But the Alfa has arguably one of the strongest engine line-ups in its class and a lengthy list of standard equipment to help it fight its cause.