The Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of the most highly anticipated cars of 2017. For many years, the American market has been limited to sports sedan offerings from German or Japanese manufacturers. The Giulia promises a stunning, high-performance alternative to the establishment. Though some Americans might remember Alfa Romeo as the manufacturer of unreliable vehicles, others will remember the passion and excitement instilled in each of the Italian automaker’s products. BMW’s 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class, Cadillac’s ATS, and Lexus’ IS may be dragged into an all-out war once the Giulia hits showrooms early this year.
A Rich History
In 1962, Alfa Romeo’s first Giulia, the Type 105, helped create the 4-door sports sedan segment. Lightweight bodies with relatively powerful 4-cylinder engines translated into segment-leading acceleration and handling. In 1978, Alfa Romeo ended production of the Giulia with the Nuova Super variant, but successor nameplates like the Alfa 6, 164, 155 (the Milano in the U.S.), and 159 carried on the Italian automaker’s performance spirit.
Only a small number of these 4-door Alfas were shipped stateside before the automaker abandoned the American market in 1995. Alfa did return to the U.S. nearly 20 years later with the 4C 2-door coupe, but the lineup lacked a mainstream product. Now, however, that car has arrived: the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia.
The Giulia Packs A Punch
Entry-level Alfa Romeo Giulia models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 280 horsepower and 306 lb.-ft. of torque and are equipped exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission. RWD comes standard, but AWD is available. It’s a bit of a shame that the base-spec Giulia isn’t available with a manual transmission, but with the shrinking sales of stick-shift cars, we can’t fully blame Alfa.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio model takes performance to a whole new level thanks to a Ferrari V8-derived 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that delivers 505 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. Like the base model, the Quadrifoglio only comes with an 8-speed automatic to transfer power to its rear wheels.
It’s Lightning Fast
Though one might not expect blistering acceleration from a turbocharged 4-cylinder, the Alfa Romeo Giulia hits 60 mph in only 5.1 seconds, for both RWD and AWD cars. Top speed is limited to 130 mph, but if you need a higher ceiling, the Quadrifoglio has you covered. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 3.8 seconds, and the Quadrifoglio won’t run out of pep until it hits 191 mph. The quarter-mile is dispatched in a brief 11.9 seconds.
Another lofty performance benchmark: A Giulia Quadrifoglio lapped the famed Nurburgring in just 7 minutes and 32 seconds. That’s faster than a Lexus LFA, Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, and a 997- generation Porsche 911 GT3 RS. With its 50/50 weight distribution, adaptive suspension, brutish power, and aerodynamic tricks, the Giulia is a true track monster.
Straight-line speed isn’t the only thing this Alfa Romeo has going for it. Massive 4-piston front and rear Brembo brakes come standard on the Giulia Quadrifoglio, while optional carbon-ceramic brakes (6-piston front/4-piston rear) haul the sedan down even quicker.
Tremendous grip comes courtesy of optional Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires—245s in front, 285s rear. Aiding the endless quest for traction is a limited-slip differential that’s optional on the entry-level Giulia and standard on the Quadrofoglio. The spiciest Giulia can pull a full G on the skidpad, but if you’d prefer to go around corners sideways, this Alfa relishes some drifting fun.
The standard Alfa Romeo Giulia is equipped with fixed dampers, but a sport package adds three-mode adaptive dampers tailored to performance, comfort, or efficiency. Alfa calls it “DNA,” and this suspension management system is fully optimized in the Quadrifoglio. DNA Pro adds a higher-performance Race mode that sharpens the throttle response, quickens shifts, disengages the stability control system, and opens the exhaust baffles to let that Ferrari-bred V6 howl.
The Giulia ride quality is sublime—in all modes, the suspension soaks up road imperfections while still mitigating body roll effectively in turns. Even the harsher Race mode doesn’t punish occupants, as is the case in some other high-performance vehicles. DNA Pro is the ultimate blend of refinement and agility.
Alfa Romeos are known for their provocative styling, and the Giulia maintains that tradition. Flared fenders and a low-slung stance give the body an aggressive presence, but front, rear, and side views vary dramatically in the tug-of-war between form and function.
The Giulia’s nose features a traditional Alfa Romeo upside-down triangle grille, and the piercing LED headlights and massive air intakes (features of the Quadrifoglio) instantly communicate the car’s high-performance intentions. In profile, the Giulia’s available 5-hole 19-inch wheels and four-leaf clover badges are other signature Alfa designs. Slender LED taillights, a carbon-fiber lip spoiler, dominant rear diffuser, and quad exhaust ports are the last styling cues the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s competitors will see as the car fades from view.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia looks like nothing else on the road. In contrast to the sharp angles of its German and Japanese rival, the Giulia looks both artful and terrifying. A diverse color palette can dramatically change the Giulia’s first impression, but not even jet-black paint can make the car look subtle.
A gorgeous exterior is no surprise, but the Italian automaker’s interior design and available technology will astound critics. Alfa’s driver-oriented cockpit is packed with leather, metal, and soft-touch materials. Higher-trim models can be equipped with carbon fiber and Alcantara suede microfiber. A flat-bottom steering wheel feels excellent in the hands, and buyers will appreciate the standard 6.5-inch instrument display.
The Giulia’s 8.8-inch infotainment system has an industry-first integrated design that helps the screen disappear into the dashboard aesthetic when not illuminated. Controlling the system are steering wheel-mounted controls and a rotary dial with hand-written gesture recognition. Occupants can access real-time vehicle performance info, 3D navigation, and media settings via the center stack dial.
The view out of the new Guilia is excellent in all directions, and the standard sport seats are supportive. Rear legroom and headroom isn’t especially abundant, but it’s sufficient enough for two adult passengers to ride in back comfortably.
Alfa Romeo has been out of the U.S. sports sedan market for quite some time, and in its absence, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac have stepped up their game. The BMW M3 is ubiquitous with the high-performance sedan segment, and has only recently shown signs of weakness. It’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 churns out 425 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque to motivate 3600 pounds. Upping the power game is Cadillac’s ATS-V, which churns out 464 horespower and 445 lb.-ft. of torque to move 3800 lb. Just below the Giulia Quadrifoglio in output is the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, which delivers 503 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque in a 3850-lb. car.
This puts the 505-horsepower Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio on top of the power chart, and its 3.8-second dash to 60 mph is quicker than every rival. No other compact sports sedan can touch the Giulia’s 191-mph top speed, either. For this segment-busting performance, the Giulia Quadrifoglio charges a premium, but if you truly want the best, chances are you’re willing to pay for it.
Broad Price Range
Prices for the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia start at $38,990 for the 2.0-liter turbo-equipped RWD models. Adding AWD to the mix tacks on a $2000 premium. All Giulias will come standard with leather-covered 10-way-adjustable power front seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, proximity ignition with remote start, a backup camera, LED taillights, xenon headlights, parking sensors, 17-inch wheels, and a 6.5-inch infotainment display. For those who want a sportier look, 18-inch wheels, colored brake calipers, black exterior trim, and redesigned front/rear fascias can be had for $1250.
A mid-range Giulia Ti ($40,990) comes with unique 18-inch wheels, wood trim, heated seats and steering wheel, and an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Going for the sport package on top of the Ti means 19-inch wheels, 14-way power seats with power side bolsters, a unique steering wheel, limited-slip differential, and aluminum paddle shifters, all for $2250. The Lusso package (also $2250) replaces the sporty bits with a leather-wrapped dash and door trim, softer leather seats, and a different steering wheel.
Finally, there’s the range-topping Quadrifoglio, which jumps all the way up to $72,000. Besides the performance gains, the Quadrifoglio has just about every option as standard—but there are one or two neat extras.
Alfa Romeo makes some very special options available on the high-performance Giulia Quadrifoglio. Replacing the standard sport seats are a set of Sparco-designed carbon-fiber buckets with leather bolsters and Alcantara inserts. An active carbon-fiber front splitter that adds 220 lb. of downforce is also available (and is the only of its kind on a 4-door sedan). As previously mentioned, optional carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes are among the best you can add to any production sedan. Lastly, audiophiles will also appreciate two sound system options: a 10-speaker setup or a 14-speaker Harman Kardon unit.