The Giulia is Alfa's entry in the compact-luxury sport sedan segment, aiming to combine performance and premium to serve as an alternative to the BMW 3 Series.
This Italian sedan is brimming with style and character, and thanks to its super agile handling, it's fun to drive. We found it to be quick and fuel efficient. But ultimately, compared to some of its near-perfect peers, the Giulia falls short on interior quality, quietness, and ergonomics, among other things. These and other setbacks all play out as major annoyances during daily driving.
When it comes to performance, there's no question that the Giulia has the handling credentials for a driver's car; it puts the emphasis on "sport" in the sports sedan category. With its super-quick steering and perfectly balanced handling, the Giulia is a delight to drive. The 280-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine does its part with robust acceleration and a snarly exhaust sound. But even with these strengths, it isn't a complete achievement. When it comes to ultimate cornering grip and braking performance, the Alfa is compromised by its pedestrian tires, while the eight-speed automatic transmission lacks polish in smoothness and response.
At least the Giulia's 27 mpg fuel economy is one of the best in the segment.
Ride comfort is civilized and commendable considering that agile handling, but there's a firm edge that makes it less plush than, say, an Audi A4. The Alfa is fairly quiet inside, but it is missing the level of substance and solidity you find in most competitors.
Inside, you're treated to a few quirky touches that add personality, such as the start button located on the steering wheel. While there are some interesting details, the Giulia is ripe with frustrations. The shifter is a nuisance to use, requiring the press of a button when going from Reverse to Drive. The infotainment system consists of a rotary knob and a screen which, at face value, looks similar to the Audi or BMW systems. However, actually using the system is cumbersome, too distracting and downright annoying. The center dash vents are too low, causing your elbows to freeze when the A/C is running. The driver's seat is limited in its adjustments, compromising the driving position. The rear seat is cramped -- not entirely unusual for this class -- and the trunk is small, as well.
Other daily bothersome details include the startling lane-departure warning system, as well as the overly sensitive parking sensors that go off in tight urban environment for no reason at all and even stay on when the car is in Park. That makes us wonder if Alfa engineers actually took the time to test the car outside the handling course on their test track.
Fit and finish is hit and miss. While the matte wood inlays and the texture of most surfaces are attractive, there are some cheap switches throughout the interior.
Advanced safety systems consist of optional forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. However, there's no lane-keep assist.
Ultimately, its sporty character and styling notwithstanding, the Giulia is half-baked and pricing seems to be ambitious. Even if you're a true die-hard Alfa aficionado, we think that buying a Giulia is a gamble, especially given the Fiat-Chrysler track record on reliability.