Alfa has been in the doldrums of late, two mainstream models have propped up the brand for nearly a decade. But the comeback has begun, spearheading the resurgence is the Giulia.
Now you’ve probably heard of the Giulia due to the Ferrari derived V6 Quadrifoglio version. This firebreathing Biturbo variant pumps out 503 bhp and can hit 62 in 3.9 seconds.
We didn’t get that one.
What we did get is the most potent mainstream version on offering, that you know, semi-sensible people will buy as a daily or rep mobile.
This one is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine packing 280 horses. It will sprint from a standstill to 62 in 5.7 seconds. That’s quick. It’s called the Veloce.
I’ve not met a single person that dislikes the way the Giulia looks. It’s a quintessential Italian masterpiece.
All the proportions are perfect, it sits low, hunkered down, it’s pointed nose featuring just a matte chrome V. Some mean daytime running lights frame the front end perfectly, as do the huge great intakes at the bottom of the front bumper.
Its derrière is just as delectable. A deep rear diffuser is met with substantial oval exhausts pushed out to the edges, in fact, I dare say this set up looks meaner than that of the Quadrifoglio. There’s no rear spoiler here, but it doesn’t need one.
The Veloce screams subtlety without uttering a sound. It’s the perfect sleeper.
Rarely do you come across a well-sorted saloon when it comes to handling. Alfa Romeo has hit the nail on the head with the Giulia. A peek under the bonnet shows a similar suspension setup to that of the Jaguar XE, suspension set at an angle, engine pushed far back in the bay.
On the open road, you can throw the Giulia into a corner without it so much as thinking of getting onto its sidewalls. Pushing the speed ever higher and still it grips. There’s not even so much as a squeal from the tyres as they hang on to every last atom of asphalt.
Steering is also well sorted in this age of numbness. Granted it’s still without feel, but the urgency and directness is quite incredible for a saloon. It reacts instantly with a heft that’s on point.
Now you can’t turn off the ESP in the Veloce. This is no hoonigan mobile, but you only find it stepping in when you’re on the limits. Too much speed, or flooring it on a loose junction will make the little flashing light appear.
Quite a few owners have commented on how intrusive the system is, but it could only be activated on the edge of grip in our Veloce.
Mashing the throttle early on in a corner isn’t met with that flashing guardian angel, it’s met with grip and acceleration. You can get on the power so early, it makes the Veloce feel like a real Italian sports car.
Performance is blisteringly fast, especially when you switch into manual mode. Here you can have full control over the 8-speed auto ‘box. When it hits the red line, it just stays there. Perfezionare.
As with all Alfa Romeo’s you get the DNA switch, Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency. Around town in ‘N’ everything is silky smooth, Dynamic heightens the gearbox, throttle and steering for when things need to get done. ‘A’ is the most chilled mode, designed to save fuel. We didn’t use that one much. I doubt you will either.
All that superb handling and performance is down to the ridiculously low kerb weight. The Guilia tips the scales at just 1,429 kg, that’s the same as the last gen Fiesta ST 2. Plastic front wings and boot help achieve that bantamweight figure, the latter being a bit on the wobbly side when you give it a slam.
Once inside this Italian you’ll find a pretty minimalist centre console, the only controls at your fingertips are for the heating system while the infotainment is all dial controlled from just behind the gearstick.
A touchscreen would have been nice, as would a full screen. When switched off the large matte black area looks to be the infotainment system. When the car is switched on however you find that it’s just a portion of that. A small rectangular screen sits behind it. You can’t help but think that if this were in a BMW or an Audi the whole real estate would be juicy LCD goodness.
Behind the steering wheel, you’ll find large metal paddles for when you want to attack the tarmac, the size makes them easy to locate, and the fact they’re metal is a delight. Metal paddles aren’t even standard on an F-Type you know.
A start button on the steering wheel makes it all the more race car inspired.
Then there’s the top of the dash. Which just looks like a trophy hunter has cut the arse out of an elephant and laid it before you.
It’s a real let down as the rest of the plastics are fine-grained and of high quality, but for some reason, Alfa saw fit to clad the Giulia in some early 90’s mock elephant hide.
Please fix this for the facelift.
Rear seat space is on the tight side, the middle seat sits on the transmission tunnel, so there’s no leg room at all unless you spread eagle. Knee room is on the slim side, but an average sized adult can sit in there with ease, as long as the driver isn’t a giant.
Boot space is the same as BMW, Audi and Merc have to offer at 480 litres
Alfa have hit a home run when it comes to driving dynamics, the Veloce is easily on par with the handling characteristics of the ever lauded 3 series. It also has a crispness to the steering that BMW seem to lack of late.
That interior is a bit of a letdown, a few minor changes and it could be up there with the likes of Audi and Merc in terms of tech offering. Some of the textures aren’t the best either, fingers crossed these will be fixed in time.
But just look at those exterior lines. You have to have one for looks alone, couple those with the handling and you can forgive the few minor interior niggles.
Don’t drive German, drive Italian.