2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti RWD

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti RWD

Standing out among performance luxury sedans has never been so fun!

By Nick Kurczewski, Car-ED.com | May 2018


What is this vehicle?

Let’s get it out of the way, because we know you’re dying to ask: The Alfa Romeo Giulia turns heads and is a thrill to drive, but rival compact luxury sedans from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Audi represent more sensible car buying choices.  So, is it worth taking a chance on this fun-loving Alfa?

The answer: an emphatic ‘Yes!’ (but with a couple caveats added into the mix). We can’t give away the entire plot in the first few lines of a car review, right?

The Giulia is the Alfa Romeo brand’s attempt at cracking into the compact performance luxury sedan field, which is currently dominated by cars like the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus ES, Cadillac CTS and Audi A4, to name a few. Available in rear- or all-wheel drive format, the Giulia comes powered by 280-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which is coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

A range-topping performance model, called the Quadrifoglio, has a total of 505 horsepower and is the only Giulia model not to offer the option of all-wheel drive.

Who is this vehicle for?

You’re not exactly shy if you’re considering the Alfa Romeo Giulia, that’s for certain. The Giulia is a sport sedan for someone who likes to go against the grain, the kind of person who wants to stand out from the crowd. It also helps if any prospective Alfa customer has a real passion for driving, because the Giulia delivers sharp handling and strong acceleration with every drive.

While the Quadrifoglio is the hero car – an outright sports car hiding in sedan clothing – the standard 280-horsepower turbo four-cylinder is more than enough motor for most people. Simply take one for a test drive and, if you’re not smiling after the first couple of corners, we’ll pay for the Uber ride back to your home or office. (No, not really. But this car truly is that much fun to drive!)

Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?

Alfa Romeo has only been back in the U.S. market for a couple model years, so it’s long-term record of reliability and resale value is still uncertain. After initially selling only the raucous mid-engine 4C sports car, the Giulia sedan (and its near-twin, the Stelvio SUV) arrived last year and represent the Italian automaker’s push towards the mainstream.

At the time of this review, the Giulia has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). There is also no published data in J.D. Power regarding how it fares in initial quality, along with predicted reliability down the road.

Buying a Giulia doesn’t mean you’re flying completely blind when it comes to stats and safety data, however.  The highly respected Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a not-for-profit industry group, put the Giulia through its rigorous regime of crash testing and awarded the Alfa a “Top Safety Pick” rating. The Giulia scored top marks in all crash tests, with its only notable demerit being a “marginal” rating for the ease of use of its child seat (LATCH) anchors.

Interesting facts about this vehicle!

Alfa Romeo is new to the U.S. market, but that doesn’t mean it’s a total stranger to these shores. The company sold cars in North America until the mid-1990s, though most people know Alfa Romeo best for its cameo role as Dustin Hoffman’s graduation present in the 1967 film “The Graduate.”

As for the Giulia sedan itself, the base model accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. That figure comes via Alfa Romeo but, after spending a week with the car, we can vouch it feels every bit that fast. Some enthusiasts were surprised Alfa Romeo didn’t make a manual transmission available, given the car’s sporty demeanor and its strong appeal to driving fans. Don’t worry, because the 8-speed automatic does a great job getting the power to the pavement. Shifts are quick and decisive. If you still want to take control, a set of paddle-shifters allows the driver to row through the gears manually.

Another slick feature is the bright-red starter button located on the steering wheel, not on the dashboard. To the uninitiated, it can be embarrassing when trying to figure how to start the car. Once you get the routine down, this design flourish only adds to the Alfa’s devilish demeanor.

What Impressed Us / Top Likes:

The handling of the Giulia is excellent. It’s sharp and informative at all speeds, without any need to press a “sport” button, or scroll to find a computer-generated performance mode, simply to make the car an absolute blast to drive. Even the snarling sound of the turbocharged four-cylinder will get your blood racing.

On a more practical note, the Giulia has a firm ride, but it won’t rattle you to pieces when the road gets bumpy. In corners, the car stays nicely controlled and absolutely level. An EPA-estimated fuel economy average of 24 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway is also a nice bonus, since the car’s fun-to-drive nature might cause you to fear the party ends once the fuel bills stack up.

Leather seating is standard, and the dashboard has a user-friendly design, though a few cheap-looking plastics detract a bit from the overall ambiance. For the 2018 model year, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available in the Giulia. The standard infotainment system is easy to use and informative, if you can’t be bothered to start pairing a smartphone.

Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):

The rear seat is cramped for taller adults and cargo room is only adequate for this segment. In the back, the Giulia offers 35.1 inches of legroom for rear passengers. For comparison, a BMW 3-Series sedan offers the same amount of rear legroom, while a Lexus ES delivers a total of 40 inches. So while it’s not a deal-breaker, the rear legroom of the Alfa is something to seriously consider for anyone who plans on toting more than a couple of passengers for long periods of time. The 12 cubic-feet of trunk space, with the folding rear seats in the upright position, is also on the smaller side compared to key rivals.

Segment and Competitors:

With a starting price of approximately $38,000, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is pitted against a wide range of luxury sedans, most notably the BMW 3-Series, Lexus ES and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Except, given the red-hot popularity of crossovers and SUVs, the Giulia’s hardest task could simply be convincing luxury buyers to consider a sedan in the first place. Sales of small SUVs are booming, especially among luxury brands, so the Giulia has an even harder task when it comes to getting noticed in a crowded market.

Unique Specifications:

Having the option of all-wheel drive could help the Giulia’s cause, especially among car buyers living in areas where snow can be an issue. You can’t argue that this Alfa Romeo draws plenty of attention, too. The shield-shaped front grille is flanked by narrow and angry-looking headlights. Heavily sculpted sides and the car’s tapering tail-end help give the Giulia a sense of speed and motion. It’s not the most grown-up choice among luxury sedans, and that’s a big part of this car’s allure.

Pricing and Availability:

The base rear-wheel drive Giulia starts at $38,195, excluding the $995 destination fee. Our test car carried a sticker price of $40,195 and, when fully optioned, it registered in at $50,035. Notable options included a mechanical limited-slip differential, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, adaptive suspension and sport seats with power adjustable bolsters. The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia is available now.