By Ian Strachan
Alfa has given its medium-sector Giulia a substantial spruce-up with better engines, more technology and a host of safety features. And don’t be deceived by its rather conservative side view and this car is a bit of a beast.
The Alfa Giulia is a clever mix of Italian style, performance and practicality, and it works well. From its name you may think this is aimed at the female market, but a car that performs this brilliantly will give any driver a lot of fun.
And it comes with great engines. My test car was powered by a sprightly 200 bhp 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine which will take you from 0-60 mph in not much more than six seconds.
There’s no doubt this is an Italian Alfa through and through. It has bags of Mediterranean style, with the front end adorned with the distinctive Alfa grille and offset number plate. The car’s profile may look a little staid, but smart optional 18 inch multi-spoke alloys (an extra £795) begin to tell you that this car has style.
Inside, the Alfa is – despite its practicality – a driver’s car with all effort concentrated on driver comfort and convenience. Supportive seats in striking tan leather hug you in a cockpit which is clear and classy with easily accessible dials and controls. The front passenger seat is equally comfortable, and rear seat passengers will find themselves with more room than they were expecting.
But most people buy Alfas for their handling and their excellent engines. This won’t disappoint. Nor will the suspension set-up which is capable of coping with some of the more spectacular potholes in our crumbling roads.
I drove the 2.0 turbo petrol option in Super trim. This unit has sparkling performance but is quiet (except when you floor it), willing and efficient, with reasonable fuel consumption of 47.9 mpg in mixed driving.
And it’s a real pleasure to drive. Linked to an eight speed automatic gearbox the engine is smooth and unruffled. Driving mode can be adjusted with the simple turn of a knob. It never sounds or feels under pressure and delivers power exactly when you want it.
Ride and handling are exceptional, with crisp and positive steering response. The Alfa’s grip on the road is never uncertain, even when cornering at speed.
Equipment levels are good, particularly its safety features which include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
Stabdard features on this spec include seven-inch touchscreen satnav with integrated eight-speaker DAB radio, Bluetooth and MP3 player, dual-zone climate control , electric folding wing mirrors, rear parking sensors, electric front and rear windows, cruise control, fog lamps, automatic stop/start, keyless entry and ignition with steering-wheel mounted start button (you can pretend you’re launching an F1 racing car!), automatic headlights and nicely-crafted aluminium shift paddles (£275).
You also get steering wheel mounted controls, leather-trimmed upholstery, nice alloys as standard, and front armrest with storage. My test car was fitted with up-rated upholstery and dash trim (£2,750), run-flat tyres (£205) split rear seats (£275) and a lighting pack with ambient lighting (£950)
This is an easy car to like and I was sorry to see it go. The whole thing, without options, comes at £31,575 on the road. The Giulia range starts at £28,654.