Alfa Romeo's triumphant return to North America has not been without stumbles, but the Giulia is absolute proof that the legendary performance brand can deliver the goods. An athletic chassis, rowdy turbocharged four-cylinder engine, available adaptive suspension, quick steering, and tenacious brakes make the Giulia a joy to drive—for novices and professional drivers alike. Within its muscular body is a cabin that can be dressed in either a sporty or chic motif. To allay the concerns of potential buyers, we're happy to report that Alfa's initial build-quality issues seem to have been resolved. Standard Giulias that have recently visited our office performed flawlessly, without any mechanical or electrical glitches that plagued earlier examples. We can't say the same for the high-performance Giulia Quadrifoglio (which we review separately), however, as our long-term test vehicle spent plenty of time at the dealer during its 40,000-mile stay with us.
What's New for 2019?
The 2019 Giulia is available with two new appearance packages. The first is the Nero Edizione package which is available on all Giulia models and adds darkened exterior trim, headlamp bezels, exhaust tips, and wheels. The second is the Carbon Fiber package that's available only on the Ti Sport model; it, too, includes mostly exterior styling bits rendered in carbon fiber but also dresses up the interior with a leather-wrapped dashboard and carbon-fiber trim. Three new wheel designs, two new colors, and a new Ice (light gray) interior theme round out the styling changes for 2019. A premium car alarm system and heated rear seats join the options sheet this year as well.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Our pick of the range is the well-equipped Giulia Ti. To that, we'd add the Ti Performance package, which includes an adaptive suspension with a driver-selectable three-setting dial, beautiful aluminum shift paddles mounted on the steering column, and a mechanical limited-slip differential.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Rich-sounding exhaust note, perfect steering feel, agile and lively handling.
Dislikes: Not as quick as lower-powered rivals, rough shifts in Dynamic mode, ride is sometimes too firm.
The Giulia's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 280 horsepower, sounds intoxicating, and feels gutsy when driven hard. The Giulia pulls away from stoplights with zeal while singing soaring Italian arias. Our rear-wheel-drive test car's 5.7-second zero-to-60-mph time and an all-wheel-drive model's time of 5.5 seconds places the Giulia at midpack in its segment in our acceleration testing; the Audi A4 did it in 5.2 seconds and the four-cylinder BMW 330i managed 5.4 seconds despite the fact that both cars have less horsepower than the Alfa. All Giulias come with a drive-mode selector with three unique settings: Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency—cleverly making the acronym DNA—each of which alters the car's transmission, engine management, and steering feel. The transmission works best in the comfort-oriented Natural mode; Advanced Efficiency dulls the transmission's responses and makes it slower to downshift, while the sportier Dynamic mode results in unnecessarily harsh gear changes.
Agile and lively at all times, the Giulia is a driving enthusiast's sports sedan. The front tires are very responsive to driver inputs and speak clearly to the driver through the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Body roll is well controlled, and in hard corners the Giulia remains flat and predictable. It's easy to drive quickly and aggressively, but it's equally comfortable when driven sedately. Even with our test car's optional adaptive suspension on its firmest setting, it absorbed bumps nicely, but don't expect a cloudlike ride in any mode.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Among its turbocharged four-cylinder rivals, the Giulia has competitive fuel-efficiency numbers from the EPA, just shy of class leading. All-wheel-drive models see a slight deficit, but that's common in this class. In our real-world highway fuel-economy test, our rear-wheel-drive Ti test vehicle nearly delivered on its EPA number with a 32-mpg result.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Upscale interior styling, comfortable and supportive seats, plenty of space in the front seats.
Dislikes: Tight rear-seat passenger space, laughably small sun visors, limited cubby storage.
The interior of the Giulia features soft-touch plastics, fine leather, and either textured metallic or genuine wood trimmings. Cheaper plastics in the center console near the gearshifter strike the one discordant note. It's an elegantly styled cabin, with a wide, sweeping dashboard that acts as a visor to shade the integrated infotainment screen from the sun. The seats are comfortable and well bolstered, especially in the optional sport seats. Pack your sunnies, though: The Giulia's sun visors are laughably small and ineffective when driving head-on into the sun.
All Giulias feature Alfa Romeo's Information and Entertainment System, displayed on either the standard 6.5-inch or optional 8.8-inch display, tucked in between the dashtop and the central climate-control vents. Three USB ports, an auxiliary input jack, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity are all standard. The system is controlled by a rotary knob on the center console or by using voice control. The system is reasonably responsive, and using it is a snap. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and a 14-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system is optional.
The Giulia managed to fit five of our carry-on cases inside its trunk; with its rear seats folded, it managed 14, lagging segment leaders by just one carry-on. Giulia and Giulia Ti models have a split-folding rear seat that folds flat easily to expand cargo-hauling capability.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Alfa Romeo offers two different bundles of driver-assistance features as optional packages on the Giulia; its crash-test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earned the Giulia a 2018 Top Safety Pick designation. Key safety features include:
- Standard rear parking sensors
- Available automated emergency braking
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Warranty coverage may be an important issue to keep in mind when buying an Alfa Romeo; the brand's reputation for reliability is among the worst in the business. Alfa Romeo's warranty coverage follows the same convention as most of its rivals, although Jaguar bucks the trend here with lengthier warranties. Giulia owners are treated to complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first year, but the 3-series and the Jaguar XE both offer better value here.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles