One of the most highly anticipated cars of the past year or so has been the Alfa Romeo Giulia, with motoring scribes from around the world singing its praises for months.
I recently had a go in the mid-spec Giulia 2.0T Super and one thing became abundantly clear from the get-go, the South African motoring fraternity is very different to that of Europe and other parts of the world.
After the sales flop that was the 159, Alfa needed something that could take the fight directly to its German, British and Swedish rivals within the hotly contested albeit shrinking D-segment.
The world was introduced to the Giulia in 2016, a car that Alfa has high hopes for, and for good reason; it’s very likely the company’s most complete product to date in terms of being a car that performs well in most areas.
There’s always one thing you’ll never have to worry about with any Alfa Romeo, and that’s its styling. The Giulia looks absolutely fantastic, even with the relatively small wheels in its base model trim, and is likely to age well.
The interior of the Giulia is where I was most surprised. The cockpit looks beautiful with a wonderfully sporty steering wheel complete with a black and silver version of the brand’s logo, as well as large aluminium gearshift paddles seemingly lifted from a Ferrari.
The instrument binnacle is simple yet looks very upmarket. Then there is the 8.8-inch infotainment setup which looks very well integrated into the centre console, with the dashboard tapering down towards the passenger side and the screen slotting in perfectly.
The infotainment system itself works quite well and offers application connectivity, Bluetooth/USB, satellite navigation and a reverse camera. I do feel that the quality of the reverse camera and resolution of the screen itself is not quite as good as its German opposition though.
Space inside is commendable, with a trip including three passengers not registering any complaints with comfortable seating, ample space and ventilation being key remarks from passengers. There’s also a large boot with 480-litres of loading space, enough for two sets of golf clubs and a few bags.
The first time I sat in the Giulia, I had this overwhelming feeling that it just felt right. This is the first rear-wheel drive Alfa sedan for over 20 years and it’s a welcome return to form.
The Super serves as the mid-range model in the three car Giulia line-up, and is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor that produces 147kW/330Nm, mated to the ubiquitous ZF sourced eight-speed gearbox, which has been programmed brilliantly. It doesn’t really matter which driving mode you’re in, this gearbox delivers fast and efficient shifts.
When selecting between the different drive modes, ‘D’ for Dynamic, ‘N’ for Normal and ‘A’ for Advanced Efficiency, you really get a broad spectrum of responses. Most of the time was spent in Normal mode where the combination of low-down torque and that wonderful gearbox made commuting an absolute breeze. Fuel consumption came to 9.0-litres/100km.
It wouldn’t be an Alfa road test if I didn’t have a few strange things to complain about. Allow me to start with the parking sensors or in this case, the left front sensor. Regardless whether an object was five metres or five centimetres away, it would go off eventually prompting me to disable the system.
Then I experienced a strange phenomenon where the infotainment screen wouldn’t turn on when I started the engine. I had to put it on manually each time which became quite annoying after a while. The most bizarre though was the alarm going off every time the car came into contact with water, resulting in me getting one of the biggest frights of my life one evening
Some would call the problems I had quirks of the brand and then go off on a tangent about passion and Italian dynamics but for me, a modern car should work, irrespective of where it’s from. The competition is simply too stiff these days and despite how undeniably good the Giulia is in many areas, I’m afraid it is simply not enough to lure consumers away from the Germans.
Article written by Sean Nurse