The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a sleek, stand-out saloon car that’s spacious and enjoyable to drive. Audi and BMW alternatives beat it on interior quality
If you’re looking for a mid-size saloon car, but don’t want to lose it in a corporate car park among all the BMWs and Audis, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a solid contender. Its characterful looks are joined by efficient engines and pretty good practicality.
Unlike similar alternatives such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, the Alfa Romeo Giulia has a much bolder exterior design and is a sure head-turner if you spec it in Alfa Romeo’s signature bright red. There are, of course, tamer colour choices but even in grey, the Giulia looks more exciting than its German alternatives.
The stylish design continues inside. There, you’ll find a cockpit that’s slightly angled towards the driver, giving you better access to all the knobs and buttons. That said, some of the plastics you touch, such as around the centre console, are a step behind what you’d find in a BMW.
Unfortunately, the Giulia’s infotainment system is also a step behind the iDrive system in a 3 Series. As standard, you get a 6.5-inch infotainment system, but it doesn’t have sat nav or smartphone screen mirroring so it’s worth updating to the 8.8-inch system. This does have sat nav, but the graphics, ease of use and functionality aren’t up to par with the best in class.
The Giulia claws back some points thanks to it’s great driving position that puts you low down, a bit like in a sports car. There’s good amounts of space up front and good kneerom in the back, once you’ve maneuvered around the protruding rear wheel arch, that is. Headroom in the back is better than in German alternatives, but the middle seat is too narrow for an adult passenger.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a car you buy mostly with your heart, but there's more than enough practical reasons for your brain to be happy too
You can get the Alfa Romeo Giulia with a selection of petrol and diesel engines, but there’s no hybrid yet. There’s also a 510hp performance model, but the 2.0-litre petrol should serve you well without the crazy running costs of the quickest model. Only pick the diesel if planning to do lots of long journeys since it’s a little loud and grumbly around town.
Arguably the Giulia’s best feature is the way it drives – put simply, there isn’t an alternative that can match its agility around fast corners, the directness of its steering wheel or the planted feel you get on twisty roads. The Jaguar XE comes close, but can’t quite match the Giulia in overall joy of driving. If there had to be a criticism, it has to be towards the ride, which is a tad unsettled over bumpy roads.
If you’re a keen driver, it’s worth going for the performance pack, which adds adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential that’ll help shuffle power between the rear wheels for better traction. It’s a worthwhile upgrade not only because it improves the handling experience, but also because the adaptive dampers, when set to the softest setting, do take the edge of the worst bumps in the road.
All this adds up to a car that’s an absolute joy to drive with head-turning looks and an individualistic interior design. Yes, German alternatives beat it on quality and technology, but by looking at out Alfa Romeo Giulia deals, you can treat yourself to a level of equipment that may be out of budget on a BMW, for example.