First Drive

First Drive: ALFA ROMEO GIULIA

The story:
A mid-life refresh improves the Alfa exec saloon’s infotainment
Category:Compact executive
Key rival:BMW 3-Series
ALFA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT 2.0 TURBO
Price:£31,100
MPG:39.2mpg
Emissions:164g/km
On sale:Now

Alfa Romeo has tweaked its Giulia saloon, with the compact executive model getting a welcome infotainment improvement.

The new 8.8-inch system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is a much neater and more user-friendly system than its predecessor, as has also been implemented to the Stelvio SUV.

The line-up has been rationalised to three petrol alternatives, the 200hp Sprint driven here, and the 280hp engine in Veloce or Veloce Ti trim levels. The 510hp Quadrifoglio remains the high-performance range-topper.

The lack of a diesel or any form of electrification hampers the Giulia from a company perspective, with the emissions figure starting from a lofty 164g/km, although the higher-powered engine is no less efficient, giving an incentive to make the £4500 jump to the more powerful alternative Veloce that also brings extra standard equipment. A BMW 320i, for comparison, is at 146g/km.

First Drive- June 2021 - Alfa Romeo Giulia - Image 6But the things that make the Giulia so appealing are still present and correct. The start button mounted on the steering wheel and huge motorsport-style gearshift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel give a sporting attitude that the Giulia follows through on, being one of the few exec saloons to give the BMW 3-Series a run for its money from a driving enjoyment perspective. The only negative aspect of the drive is a brake pedal that’s a little softer than would be ideal.

The cabin is a little cramped; it’s cosy and seems to wrap around the driver in a positive way, but rear seat-passengers won’t be delighted by the space on offer.

First Drive- June 2021 - Alfa Romeo Giulia - Image 5The Giulia is still very much a niche choice against the big German premium players, and is certainly not faultless aside from the lack of a diesel or electrified alternative, but it’s a pretty saloon with a great driving experience and is now slightly better than it was before the latest model year update.

paul barker

 

First Drive: Alfa Romeo Stelvio

 

The verdict

Efficiency isn’t good enough to make a sensible company car case, especially with no diesel or electrification, but it’s an appealing and characterful car that isn’t hard to justify the extra cost from an enjoyment point of view, although German premium rivals are compelling and better all-rounders.