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Thursday 30 March 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Dave Humphreys
# Review
The Alfa Romeo Giulia has been a long time coming. Was it worth the wait?
Is the Giulia the hit that Alfa Romeo so desperately needs?

WE HAVE BEEN waiting 25 years for Alfa Romeo to make a rear-wheel drive saloon since production of the 75 ended in 1992.

And this is what Alfa have come up with: the new Giulia. Has it been worth the wait?

The first thing to note about the Giulia is that it is all Alfa – not a Fiat in disguise. It is built on a new Alfa-designed longitudinal-engined, rear-wheel drive platform, the development of which was overseen by former Ferrari engineer Philippe Krief. It was penned in Alfa’s Centro Stile in Turin and all Giulias are built in Italy at Fiat’s Cassino plant. So it is full of pure, Italian DNA. 

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And you can see this in almost all aspects of the car – none more obvious than its beautiful, head-turning good looks that will only get better with age. It is brimming with Italian flair with its low stance, curvaceous lines and that face, which is pure Alfa. It looks strapping indeed.

There is a sense of Italian style and sophistication in the cabin, especially with the tan leather interior and elegant wood trim. My main criticism is the thick A pillar and the blind spot that it creates, but other than that it is a driver-centric cabin and has some lovely details – like the infotainment system integrated into the dash area and the perfectly positioned rotary dial to operate it.

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The (standard) leather flat-bottomed steering wheel with the stop/start button is a joy to hold. As are the aluminium paddle shifters that are attached to the steering column, meaning they stay in place as you turn.

(Usually paddle shifters are plastic and stuck on to the wheel itself, the ones on the Giulia are more akin to a Ferrari – thanks Philippe Krief.)

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Speaking of which, the Giulia is only available as an automatic but the eight-speed gearbox is terrific. It’s the same ZF sourced one as the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE. It shifts smoothly and reacts promptly when you ask it to kick down to accelerate hard.

The car I was testing was the 2.2-litre 150hp turbodiesel version, which, I hate to admit, rattled and grumbled at me when I first started it up. It did quieten down once it got up to operating temperature but it is a bit grittier and rougher than those powering its German rivals. The engine provided adequate power for my needs with peak torque of 450Nm from as low as 1,750rpm ensuring that progress is smooth and swift.

However, I can’t help but think the 2.0-litre 200hp turbo petrol or 2.2-litre 180hp turbo diesel units might be better options, or at least more fun.

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That said, the Giulia is plenty of fun as it is with its brilliantly engineered chassis making the car agile and reactive. It has perfect 50/50 weight distribution and it corners with confidence, even at speed.

The suspension is a little on the firm side and combined with the large 18-inch wheels the ride was a bit fidgety but the 17-inch wheels should offer a bit more compliance over bumps. You can also opt for the €2,400 optional Performance pack which gets you those fab steering column mounted gear shift paddles, a limited slip diff and Alfa active suspension.

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Alfa has race cars in its DNA and you can channel this by selecting the Dynamic drive mode, which quickens throttle response, provides later upshifts and earlier downshifts, increases steering weighting and firms up the suspension. In other words, it dials the Giulia up to eleven.

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The precise steering, sporty steering wheel, supercar-like paddle shifters, slick gearbox, Dynamic mode, and sweet chassis combined with the feeling of being pushed along the road by the rear wheels make the Giulia one of the more exhilarating executive saloons to drive. It is a true Italian car in the sense that it stirs the emotions and is all about passion, excitement and engagement.

To top it all off, the Giulia scored a full five-star Euro NCAP rating and received a 98 per cent score for adult occupant protection – the highest of any car ever tested.

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With a starting price of €39,995 and a decent amount of kit as standard the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a serious challenger to the German triumvirate.

And yes, it has indeed been worth the wait.

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