Uber-sporty, aggressively fast and with the look and feel of perhaps even a small muscle car… are the interior plastics and some sorely missed updates going to leave the Alfa Romeo Giulia behind in the race against the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes C-Class?
Here’s what Car Sales had to say in their review:
Alfa Romeo reckons the Giulia is a genuine rival for German mid-sizes, such as the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C-Class. In a dynamic sense, definitely, this has been a super engaging and fun to drive car since launch, but to be honest, cabin fit out and equipment levels haven’t been to the standard necessary for it to take on the established rivals, until now!
Alfa Romeo reckons this mid-life update to the Giulia makes it a genuine BMW basher. Are the Italians right? Let’s take a look!
First impressions are positive. There’s a definite sense that Alpha has lifted its game and it’s most evident in the bigger 8.8 inch touchscreen system. It looks and feels more modern than the previous version and although it doesn’t have the depth of something like, say, Mercedes MBUX setup, the menu system is slicker and easier to use. The touchscreen is super responsive with smartphone inspired slide and pinch inputs. Plus it’s got Apple CarPlay if you just want the easiest option.
The dashboard has a bit of Italian flair and the new gear shifter has a higher quality leather finish, that looks and feels great! Redesigned cup holders in this storage area are a nice touch too. Sadly when it comes to the infotainment controls things take a step back. These plastics do not communicate luxury or quality and anyone cross-shopping this car with a German high-end vehicle, they’re going to notice this straight away. The new infotainment dial has been improved but these two dials carry over and you’ll find better quality controls on a new Toyota Camry.
If Alfa Romeo wants to be taken seriously it needs to work on the details!
If you look past the blemishes you’ll still find a classy cabin with good packaging. There’s loads of USB ports, including USB A and C, and the big wireless phone charger, standard on all models, is one of the easiest to load and the most secure you’ll find. Your phone simply cannot slide out.
The new steering wheel is lovely and these aluminium paddle shifters are just gorgeous. And although the instrument panel is not fully digital, I don’t mind the analog dials, it kind of suits the sporty nature of the car. This mid-spec Velocé model gets stitched leather on the dashboard and doors, which adds up-market appeal. Even the headlining is high quality. The ribbed leather sport seats have a hint of exotica, and are also first rate. There’s excellent side bolsters to hug the body when you turn up the tempo as well, but I reckon bigger bodies may find them a little tight.
The back seats are comfortable and there’s loads of amenities, a fold-out armrest, air vents, USB ports, the seats are even heated but headroom is a little average. The boot’s 480 litres is on par for this class and the same as the BMW 3 series. There’s some meaningful improvements in this mid-life update but two areas that have always stood proud are dynamics and looks.
Like the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 159, I reckon this design is going to age beautifully. It’s got curves in all the right places and delivers a tasty balance between luxury car elegance and sports car aggression.
In terms of performance it absolutely nails the brief. It starts with the well-weighted steering, which is more direct than most of its rivals. This means it turns quicker and feels more nimble and it’s backed up by an excellent chassis. The car suspension is impressive, riding relatively smoothly over bumpy roads, while ensuring excellent body control when you get a chance to sling it through a challenging selection of corner. There’s loads of grip from the standard 19-inch alloy wheels shot with sticky Pirelli P-0 tyres. Driving this car on fun roads is super rewarding.
Engine response from the 2-litre turbo is excellent and power delivery is strong. The engine and gearbox combo is spot-on too. And the eight-speed gearbox does an excellent job at both ends of the driving spectrum. It’s no Giulia cube but in terms of fast falls it’s agile and muscular and really does have this addictive feel to it. It’s pleasantly surprising.
Alfa Romeo has made lots of noise about its improved safety systems too, with traffic jam assist, road sign recognition and lane keep assist now added, all of which work as expected.
So does all of this make the updated Giulia a genuine luxury contender? Is it finally a true 3 series rival? Close but no cigar!
Look, there’s definitely been some improvements here, don’t get me wrong, but those low quality plastics and the lack of attention to detail sully an otherwise attractive package. And then there’s also some very average resale value numbers that you’re going to have to deal with. And even if Alfa Romeo offered a better warranty, fixed buyback prices, nicer cabin plastics and more LCD screens, I’m still not sure buyers keen for a German badge would consider the Giulia.
Ultimately buying this car is a decision you’ll make with your heart, not your head!