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First Drive

First Drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia

The story:
The revamped version of Alfa’s executive saloon gets updated tech rather than revised looks

Category:Executive
Key rival:BMW 3 Series
Alfa Romeo Giulia 190D Sprint
Price:£37,500 (est)
MPG:57.6 mpg (est)
Emissions:126g/km
On sale:January 2020

Having won plaudits for the styling of its Giulia saloon since it was launched in 2016, it is perhaps little surprise that Alfa Romeo’s mid-life facelift of its executive four-door makes only minor visual changes.

Instead, Alfa Romeo has left things largely as they were, to the extent that if you were to park the updated version next to an outgoing model, only those in the know are likely to be able to tell the difference.

This merits the question as to why you should bother going for a brand-new version of the updated Giulia, then, or why you should chop your three-year old model in for a new one?

Most of the answers lie beneath the skin and in the cabin. The interior features the most obvious tweaks, with a notably redesigned central console the most striking. A new gearlever, more storage space and a wireless charging slot are handy, although there is still no obvious cubby into which the key can be popped.

First Drive-December 2019-Alfa Romeo Giulia-Image 7The level of quality has been upped slightly, too.

A new steering wheel is no great evolution, but the buttons on it are logically placed and feel satisfyingly tactile, although the vast gearshift paddles set behind it are prone to getting in the way during manoeuvres.

Alfa has concentrated most of all, however, on offering upgrades to the technology on the Giulia. The new infotainment system is the most welcome, because the outgoing low-resolution screen has now been replaced by a smarter system. An 8.8-inch central display is clear and crisp and allows owners to customise the home screen by dragging and dropping different elements to places of their choosing. It’s simple and slightly gimmicky, but it is a welcome touch that you can control the functions either through the touchscreen or a rotary knob, which could prove safer on the move. It’s handy, given that some of the on-screen buttons are small and difficult to hit, even when stationary. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range, though, so this will be a moot point for many.

First Drive-December 2019-Alfa Romeo Giulia-Image 5Other serious upgrades affect the level of autonomous driving capability. The adaptive cruise control works really well, especially on the motorway. It picks up the speed signs accurately, allowing you to then flick a switch to set the cruise to the legal limit. It’s rather abrupt when coming up behind slower-moving traffic, though, braking rather sharply and late rather than easing off the speed.

The engines on the Giulia remain unchanged, with one diesel and one petrol per trim. Alfa is yet to confirm the final UK specification levels at the time of writing, but it has simplified the range, with Super, Sprint, Lusso Ti and Veloce now the models on offer.

 

tom webster

The verdict

Style remains unchanged and is still the Giulia’s biggest selling point, although elements have been improved.