When we drove the Giulia back in 2017, we unashamedly loved it. As a tonic to the ‘Kraut Rock ‘of Audi, BMW & Mercedes premium saloons, Alfa produced a sexy, drivers car, but as with all things Alfa, there were some typical Italian gripes, especially in the cabin. Thankfully, in 2019 Alfa spent some time & money on the Giulia & upgraded the interior, which is now much more user-friendly. As a company car publication, we took delivery of the entry level petrol Sprint version, which at present, is the most cost effective way into the Giulia range.
The Giulia is offered in four versions; 2.0 TB Sprint 4dr Auto, 2.0 TB 280 Veloce 4 dr Auto, 2.0 280 Ti Veloce or mind boggling 2.9 V6 biTurbo Quadrofoglio 4dr Auto.The engine range is made up of two 2.2-litre diesels in 158bhp or 187bhp, plus two 2.0-litre turbocharged petrols with 197bhp or 276bhp, plus a range-topping twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 with 503bhp, the Quadrofoglio.
Exterior & interior
From the outside, the Giulia is still way better looking than it’s rivals. And, with the cabin update is almost as good inside too. For a start, the build quality has improved & you’d be hard pressed to find fault with any of the plastic finishes inside, even on entry level Sprint. The dials are beautiful & the steering wheel’s leather finish is lovely to the touch. The old Giulia’s cabin storage was pants, with small narrow door pockets & two drink holders that when used, obscured some of the controls. Alfa have moved these back a bit, so larger bottles can now be used & the rotary infotainment controller, which sits behind these, now feels more sturdy. Alfa have also added an Italian flag motif at the base of the gear shifter with adds a touch of class.
Every Giulia comes with a 7″ digital display between the analogue instrument dials, allowing the driver to configure the display to show SatNav, driving performance or fuel economy. And there’s a more user-friendly 8.8″ colour infotainment screen, that can be controlled by the rotary dial, or you can physically touch ‘widget-like’ buttons on the screen. It’s not as sharp to look at as German rivals offerings, nor as large to view. The good news, is that it offers Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which are included as standard. Alfa also provides a smartphone app that allows you to remotely operate features such as the central locking & you can even access features through a smart speaker at home, using a smart assistant such as Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa.
Our entry level Sprint model featured Active Cruise Control, ambient front & rear LED lighting, bi-xenon headlights, dark finish ‘Giulia’ badge, ports pedals, a dual exhaust, Lane Departure Warning & leather sports seats, steering wheel & gear stick. Front & rear parking sensors & a reversing camera are standard on all trims.
Up front, there’s loads of space for both front seat passenger’s & in the rear, passengers 3 & 4 are also well catered for. Passenger 5 though, will struggle on longer journeys, exactly the same as they would in all cars in this sector. There’s an assortment of cubbyholes for stowing your odds & ends, including space underneath the centre armrest. The door pockets both front & rear, are slim & not very useful. Better news are the USB connections. One in the dashboard & two, plus a 12v socket, located under the centre armrest, plus one in the rear. Boot storage is class average at 480 litres, exactly the same as the 3 Series.
Performance & fuel economy
Top speed is 146 mph & you’ll hit 62mph from standing start in just 6.6 seconds. Combined fuel economy is 36.2 mpg with CO2 emission of 176g/km
Brilliant to drive, gorgeous in the flesh, even in lowest trim. Improved interior & infotainment over the launch model. Since we drove a diesel version in 2017, the UK government has massively incentivised company car tax payers towards choosing an EV, hybrid or plug-in hybrid & therefore, none of the engines will prove cost-effective as a company car. However, it’s not all doom & gloom, because the leasing companies are reporting that more business users than ever are opting out of company schemes & this is where the Giulia can make hay, because as a package it’s pretty damn good !
No plug-in hybrid offering. Some poorly designed switchgear, such as the wipers & a lack of cabin storage do let it down when compared to rivals. From a company car perspective, the high BIK is a problem.
The automatic gearbox which is standard on all UK cars, provides enjoyable, smooth, fast shifts. If desired, you can utilise the large paddles behind the wheel which might for some, bring back the driver engagement that has been lost with the lack of a manual model. I stuck in the auto mode & I was never disappointed.
Perhaps with a sideways glance at the BMW, the Giulia is wheel rear driven, with a 50:50 weight distribution. The suspension is quite stiff, but nonetheless it offers exceptional cornering & even copes well on bumpy roads. Alfa’s D.N.A drive, allows the driver to select three driving modes; Dynamic, Natural & Advanced Efficiency, which basically alter the steering weight & throttle response. Even in the Efficiency setting the Giulia is fun & improves fuel economy. Select Dynamic & it does feel sharper & faster, but for day to day Natural works just fine.
I was driving the smaller engined 200 bhp version of the Giulia & despite coming with less oomph than the more powerful engines offered in the range, still emits a lovely roar. It’s more fun to drive quickly than the Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class & runs the 3 Series pretty close for all out fun. Top speed is 146 mph & you’ll hit 62mph from standing start in just 6.6 seconds.
On the motorway, the Giulia’s a comfortable cruiser. All models feature Active Cruise Control, so when we were on the motorway, we tended to get up to speed quickly & then settle into Efficiency mode whilst selecting Active Cruise, then sit back & relax.
There’s no noticeable road or wind noise entering the cabin & therefore it’s easy to take or receive a hands-free phone call, or listen to your favourite DAB station or podcast undisturbed. Connecting to AppleCar Play was simple & the improved infotainment set-up is simple enough to understand.
Even with the interior improvements, the Giulia still comes with a lot less satisfying a dashboard & infotainment systems than you’ll find on the BMW or Audi. And whilst the Merc’s offerings are compromised, the C-Class features the best looking dash & set-up of all.
However, put this aside & as a driver’s car & from a purely aesthetic point of view, the Giulia is by far the most attractive car in the class. On the road, entry level Giulia knocks the spots off any of the German’s offering end of story. From a company car perspective, it’s a shame there’s no plug-in version yet, but you never no ?
An Atalanta 3.5/5