Fiat stopped selling cars in the United States last year – but there’s still an Italian-brand car you can buy here (other than a Ferrari).
It’s the Giulia – one of two Italian cars made by Alfa Romeo.
Of course, it being Italian – and so something different – is only one reason to consider buying it.
Are there any others?
The Giulia is a compact-sized luxury sport sedan made by Alfa Romeo. It competes with other compact-sized luxury-sport sedans such as the Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.
But what makes it different – other than being Italian and so not as commonly seen in the U.S. as the Benz C, BMW 3 and Audi A4? For one – and it’s a big one – it comes standard with a much stronger engine. Two-hundred-eighty horses vs. 201-255 in those others. For about the same – or even less – money vs. its Germanic rivals.
And you can get a Giulia with an engine so strong it’s almost surreal – 505 horses – in the Quadrifoglio version. This handily one-ups the M version of the BMW 3 Series sedan, which tops out at 473 horses. The strongest version of the Mercedes C-Class sedan (the C43) summons a distant 402 horsepower.
It’s also rear-drive, which the Audi A4 isn’t. This matters – to people who like the superior balance/handling that the rear drive layout delivers.
But you can get AWD – if you want it.
Giulia prices start at $44,280 for the base Sprint trim. The next-up Ti trim adds a panorama sunroof, heated seats and a larger (18 inch) wheel/tire package. It stickers for $46,320. For a sportier Giulia, there’s the Veloce – which adds a limited slip rear differential, faster steering, bolstered seats and an upgraded brake system with red powder-coated calipers.
If you want even more sportiness, the $55,420 Estrema adds an adaptive suspension system, wider (19 inch) wheels with short sidewall sport tires and black powder-coated brake calipers set off with white “Alfa Romeo” script. A 14 speaker Harman Kardon audio system is also includes, along with carbon fiber and aluminum interior trim.
The ultimate version of the Giulia, however, is the $79,760 Quadrifoglio – which replaces the otherwise-standard 2.0 liter turbocharged (and 280 hp) four that comes in other Giulias with the 505 horsepower V6 mentioned above – plus everything that comes with the Estrema and a torque vectoring differential, plus lightweight carbon fiber body panels and an “active aero” front splitter system that enhances high-speed stability.
A Lusso package is available for the Ti trim that bundles the 14 speaker Harman Kardon audio system with special two-tone leather seats.
The Estrema trim is also new.
Standard engine is more powerful than rivals’ standard engines.
Multiple trims/lots of options allow for more personalized choices.
Something different for a change.
What’s Not So Good
Like other compact-sized luxury-sport sedans, the back seat is tight (35.1 inches of legroom) and the trunk is small (13.4 cubic feet).
Standard 2.0 liter turbo four is stronger than others – but it’s still the same general type of engine you’ll find in others.
It might be hard to find an Alfa dealer in your area.
Like so many new cars, the Giulia comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder engine. This type (and size) of engine has become the standard engine in so many new cars – across all makes, models and price points – because it’s not too big – and not too small. Not too big – in order to not use too much gas and so comply with federal fuel efficiency requirements, which are now so high as to require economy car mileage (30-plus MPGs) from even luxury-sport sedans like this Alfa.
And also so as to reduce the amount of gas (C02) it produces – also in order to comply with federal requirements that are designed – ultimately – to force engines of all sizes out of the showroom in favor of electric motors.
But, the Giulia’s 2.0 liter turbo four does differ from most in one key respect. It is significantly more powerful than the standard 2.0 liter turbo fours that are standard in rival luxury-sport sedans like the Mercedes C300, the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4.
The Alfa’s 2.0 liter four makes 280 horsepower – as opposed to 255 from the BMW and Benz fours. The Audi A4’s standard 2.0 liter turbo four makes only 201 horsepower.
An eight speed automatic transmission is standard. You can choose either rear wheel drive or (optionally) all-wheel-drive. Either way, this Italian stallion gets to 60 in just over 5 seconds. And it gets 24 city, 33 highway – only a few MPGs less than many economy cars with a lot less than 280 horsepower.
But there’s also something else. Something very different.
That thing being the Giulia’s available twin-turbocharged V6. This ones makes 505 horsepower, which is a really big number. It’s even bigger – in terms of how impressive – when you consider that the Alfa’s V6 isn’t much larger than the standard 2.0 liter four. The V6 displaces a mere 2.9 liters – making it one of the strongest, smallest V6s out there (or ever). To get a sense of how strong this little engine is, consider that the 6.4 liter V8 that powers the ’23 Chrysler 300 C I test drove last week makes only 485 horsepower in spite of being more than twice the size.
Not surprisingly, the Quadrifoglio version of the Giula is extremely quick. Zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds. To get a sense of just how quick that is – consider that a 700-plus horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat, with a supercharged V8 more than twice the size of the Alfa’s V6, is only slightly quicker.
Perhaps even more surprising is the Alfa’s modest thirst relative to its power: 17 city, 25 highway. This is slightly better mileage than the 6.4 liter V8 Hemi Chrysler 300’s 15 city, 24 highway. The 505 hp Alfa also has a highway range just shy of 400 miles – and you’ll only need to stop and wait for about five minutes to refuel and be ready for another almost-400-miles of driving.
As opposed to the 30-plus minutes you’d have to wait at a “fast” charger to instill even half a “tank” of range in an electric car such as the Tesla Model 3.
Somehow, the Giulia’s standard 2.0 liter turbo four doesn’t sound like all the other 2.0 liter turbo fours. Probably because Alfa wants you to hear it.
And not hear something else.
There is less sound deadening of the engine, which is a good thing in a car meant to appeal to people who like to hear the engine. And the sounds you hear are authentic – as opposed to the sounds electronically generated and piped into the cabin through the audio system to make you think there’s something else under the hood.
Alfa lets you hear what you’ve got – and the sound is good.
Some are under the mistaken impression that four cylinder engines are fundamentally economy car engines – and sound it.
Ask the owner of a Miata about that.
Or a Japanese sport bike.
The Alfa SOHC four makes convincingly Italian sounds, especially when first started up. You might think someone forgot to install the catalytic converters. The sound accompanies you – at rising pitch – all the way past the 5,500 RPM tachometer-indicated redline to 6,200 RPM – at which time the rev limiter kicks in.
There’s even what sounds like some wastegate snap – though its just the baffles of the active exhaust blipping open under wide-open throttle.
The 306 ft.-lb. of torque produced by the four is maintained from 2,000-4,800 RPM – which gives the mid-range and part-throttle punch of a much larger engine. You can alter some of the drivetrain’s feels – such as shift points and sharpness of throttle response – by selecting any of the three drive modes, Dynamic, Natural and Efficiency.
Relative to the others in the class, the Giulia is, in summary, the more passionate car – as an Italian car ought to be. It’s not quicker – with the four – than a Benz C300 or BMW 3. But it is more emotionally arousing. Part of this may have to do with the close-fitted cockpit feel of the car, especially when you’re behind the wheel. Before you are gauges – not displays. Big tach on the left, speedo to the right – and clear physical separation from the LCD screen set off farther to the right.
And for even better sounds and feels, take a spin in the twin-turbo’d Quadrifoglio. You’ll be glad you did.
At The Curb
It’s nice to see something different, too.
There’s no mistaking the Giulia for something else – because it doesn’t look like all the rest. From any angle, there are differences. That was also true of the late, unlamented Pontiac Aztek as well. But those were the wrong kind of differences.
Elegant and aggressive at the same time – and clearly not from Germany. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The point is precisely that it’s not from there – nor trying to look as if it were.
Just the right squat, too. And the upward cant of the Quadrifoglio’s four exhaust tips is pure automotive art.
It looks pretty sharp under the hood, too – which is another difference. You can see the dual throttle bodies of the V6 and much of the engine, too. Probably because there’s something worth looking at, for once.
Inside, you will find that different dash layout described earlier, with sports car gauges rather than cell phone-emulating LCD displays.
But, the fit can be tight – for those in the back. This is equally true of all the models in this class, however. The Giulia – like the Benz C300 and BMW 3 and Audi A4 – are compact-sized sedans (at 182.5 inches long overall, the Giulia has exactly the same footprint as a Toyota Corolla) and for that reason have compact-sized rear seat accommodations and trunks. But the Giulia hasn’t got appreciably less than its rivals in the rear seat legroom department (35.1 inches vs. 35.2 for the BMW 3, 35.7 for the A4 and 36.0 for the Benz C300) and it actually has a fairly large-for-the-class (13.4 cubic foot) trunk that is larger than the BMW 3’s 13 cubic foot trunk, the C300’s 12.6 cubic foot trunk and the A4’s 12 cubic foot trunk.
And you’re getting a lot more in terms of the intangibles. The sounds and feels.
Alfa offers many options for further differentiation, among the highlights being the two-tone leather interior treatment that comes with the Lusso package. The new Estrema is a kind of all-but-Quadrifolgio, featuring many of the mechanical upgrades – as far as the suspension and brakes – as well as many of the interior/trim upgrades, such as carbon fiber facings, aluminum pedals and a serious-looking set of inward-staggered 19 inch black powder coated wheels with the “signed” Alfa calipers visible through the big holes for the airflow.
The Quadrifoglio is eligible for ultra-high-performance 15.1 inch carbon-ceramic brake upgrade, too.
One thing you cannot get, however, is the Giuletta – which is the wagon version of the Giula that’s not sold in the United States. That’s a shame because it would eliminate the practicality problem by tripling the available usable space inside and make this exotic car a feasible family car, too.
The Bottom Line
Something different for a change?
And for once?
. . .
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here. If that fails, email me at EPeters952@yahoo.com and I will send you a copy directly!