The compact executive class is fiercely competitive with accomplished offerings from BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar all spoiling buyers for choice. The latest pair to take on the established class kings are the Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Audi A4.
Alfa Romeo’s previous submissions to the segment have been beautiful and fun to drive, but fell short of class leaders, so will the Giulia be able to compete at the highest level? If Audi has its way, the task will be a tough one. The latest generation of the A4 is said to be even more efficient, more refined and more dynamic than the outgoing car.
If push came to shove, which of the pair would you choose? We’ve taken a look at the pair in details to find out. If you prefer its solid Germanic image, put the Audi A4 in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save.
Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Audi A4 styling
A quick glance at the Alfa Romeo’s body shows that it couldn’t possibly get off to a better start. From pretty much any angle you approach it from, the Giulia is simply gorgeous – well-proportioned, sporty yet very elegant. It’s everything you could ask for from a small Italian sports saloon.
Similar to the previous A4, the new model is styled using solid shapes and clean lines. The brand has worked extensively to make the A4 the most aerodynamically efficient car in the class. Some changes – like a more aerodynamic flat undertray beneath the car – are hard to see, while redesigned and repositioned door mirrors are claimed to reduce wind noise.
Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Audi A4 interior
Thanks to a low-slung driving position and a high window line, the Giulia’s cabin looks snug and sporty. If that isn’t enough to get the driver in the mood, the hooded instrument binnacles and gorgeous steering wheel should do the trick. A large touchscreen infotainment system is also neatly integrated into the centre of the dash.
Like the outside, the A4’s interior is instantly recognisable as an Audi design. A swathe of silver trim runs across the dashboard, which houses the climate control system. While the huge navigation screen screen is bright and easy to use, the way it sits on top of the dash looks like something of an afterthought, especially compared to the Alfa’s sleeker look.
That isn’t the only LCD screen the A4 utilises, though. The optional Virtual Cockpit replaces regular dials with a digital display. Testers note that its clarity is “amazing”, and its customisation options allow the driver to keep all of the most relevant information in clear view.
Interior space is slightly up on the old A4, and the 500-litre boot is above average relative to its rivals. It remains to be seen how the Alfa will compare, but it is thought to have the longest wheelbase in the class, giving it plenty of potential for a roomy cabin.
Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Audi A4 driving
Alfa Romeo is confident that the Giulia will become the driving enthusiast’s choice in the class, despite stiff competition from the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE. It gets off to an encouraging start – in a departure from its predecessors, which sent the engine’s power to the front wheels, the majority of the Giulia range will be rear-wheel drive, with some models offering the option of four-wheel drive. The use of lightweight materials and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution all point towards what could be a very agile and entertaining sports saloon.
The Audi’s front-wheel drive chassis isn’t set up for ultimate driving thrills, though reviews describe it as feeling composed and reassuring. The latest generation A4 weighs up to 120kg less than its predecessor, which certainly plays a part, as does the extensively redesigned suspension.
All the changes add up to a more comfortable car than the overly-firm previous model, while also reducing the amount of noise that enters the cabin. Some testers suggest the A4 is now the most capable long distance cruiser in the class.
Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Audi A4 engines
The engine lineup for the Giulia hasn’t been confirmed yet, with Alfa Romeo only stating that there will be a range of four- and six-cylinder petrols and diesels to choose from. The petrol choices are likely to include the 1.75-litre turbocharged unit found in both the most potent Giulietta and the 4C sports car, while the firm’s 148hp 2.0-litre diesel is also likely to make an appearance.
At the top of the range is the Quadrifoglio Verde. Producing 503hp courtesy of a Ferrari-developed 3.0-litre V6 turbo, it’ll supposedly reach 62mph from rest in less than four seconds – enough to worry many supercars.
Buyers can choose from three diesel and four petrol engines for the A4 and all are faster and more efficient than the units they replace. The range starts with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol which, when combined with the dual clutch automatic gearbox (a £1,500 option), will crack the 0-62mph dash in 8.9 seconds and return a claimed 57.7mpg. Further up the range are a pair of 2.0-litre turbos, producing either 187hp or 248hp.
Two versions of both a 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre V6 diesel are also available, producing between 148hp and 272hp. The most frugal version will officially return 76.4mpg and emit 95g/km of CO2, making it a great choice for company car buyers.
Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Audi A4 verdict
We’ll have to wait and see if the Alfa Romeo Giulia can live up to its promise but, on the face of it, this latest Italian challenger has plenty going for it. It looks stunning inside and out, has all the necessary hardware to make it fun to drive and, in the form of the Quadrifoglio Verde, could be faster than all its rivals.
The Audi A4, meanwhile, might well be the new class leader when it comes to refinement and efficiency, while setting an even higher standard for build quality and interior accommodation. Once prices are confirmed for the Giulia we can give a more definitive judgement but, for now at least, it looks like buyers in the compact executive sector are going to be more spoiled for choice than ever.
If you prefer it to the Alfa Romeo, put the Audi A4 in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you still need help picking your next car, check out our car chooser.