Anyone bored with the same-old, same-old offerings in the executive car class has, since 2016, been able to cast a little wider and bag a deeply competitive and wonderfully charismatic saloon with an Alfa Romeo badge. You see, the Giulia is a really compelling alternative that competes on performance, running costs and driving experience, and for which none of the old Alfa apologies is needed.
From launch, the choice of engines has started with a 197bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and increased to 276bhp with the Veloce and Veloce Ti versions. The diesel range stems from a 2.2-litre four-cylinder with either 148bhp or 177bhp. Then there’s the top-of-the-range Quadrifoglio – a car so good that it’s best reserved for its own separate guide – with a 503bhp 2.9-litre V6. All engines come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Standard equipment is decent, too, with most models getting an 8.8in infotainment system, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a host of safety systems such as lane departure warning, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking.
It comes in four trims: Giulia, Super, Speciale and Veloce. The entry-level Giulia trim equips the Alfa with 16in alloy wheels, cruise control and rear parking sensors. Inside, there’s dual-zone climate control and Alfa’s infotainment system complete with a 6.5in display and a DAB radio. Upgrade to Super for 17in alloys and uprated infotainment with an 8.8in display and sat-nav, while Speciale adds 18in alloy wheels and a sporty bodykit. The range-topping Veloce gets a unique set of alloys, an upgraded braking system and lovely crafted aluminium paddle shifters.
To drive, the Giulia is a lesson in how an executive car can be made to handle well, with quick steering and a fluid ride quality. The interior fit and finish can’t match that of the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, but it is smarter than the Jaguar XE. Space is also better in the Giulia than its British rival, although leg room in the rear still isn’t a patch on that the A4’s.
The boot is among the deepest in the class and, on Speciale versions, there’s a useful 40/20/40 split folding rear bench as standard.
In 2020, the Giulia was updated, with the infotainment upgraded to a touchscreen affair, albeit still with a rotary dial for certain functions, and the interior materials were improved. It also gained advanced driver assistance systems and smartphone mirroring now comes as standard.
Prices for an early Giulia start at around £14,000. Budget between £15,000 and £18,000 for good 2017 and 2018 cars and £19,000 to £22,000 for 2019 models. Expect to spend around £28,000 on a 2020 car.