If you follow what goes in the Automotive world, you would have probably noticed how some manufacturers take their time when it comes to producing a car worthy of a Petrolhead’s attention. Alfa Romeo is one of the most recent examples, and have been in the shadows for some time. Sure, they gave us the 4C which is an astonishing little beast, and about a decade prior, they gave the world the 8C which had all the right ingredients to be a proper sports car.
But let’s face it, they needed a car like the Giulia. They needed a sport saloon, which embodies everything that makes a good Alfa Romeo. They needed a successor to the old Alfa Romeo 75. And, indeed they did a good job at making one.
I am delighted to say, I have driven most variants of the Giulia, with the exception of the Ferrari-powered Quadrofoglio version…sadly. The Giulia QV, like its predecessor, the 75 QV, has the same ingredients – rear wheel drive, gearbox at the back, and a powerful V6 engine at the front. Of course, the 75’s 190 BHP don’t come anywhere close to the Giulia QV’s 510 BHP, but that’s not the point.
Enough about the high performance version. What happens when you don’t really need to be the fastest Alfa-ist in town? Can the “lesser” version compete with the benchmarks of the segment?
Once again, I am happy to say – Yes! My Giulia experience started in 2017 when I compared the 2.2 liter, 180 BHP diesel version with the BMW 320d F30, and although the BMW was a bit more spacious and comfortable in the back, the Alfa dominated in the pleasure department. It was more playful, nimble and quicker, even though it had a bit less power, and weighing about the same. The 6.8 second time from 0 to 100 km/h was also impressive for its power to weight ratio. It was also one of the smoothest diesel engines I have ever had the pleasure of driving, and I am not even a fan of diesel cars.
Recently I was given a Q2 – 2.0 liter turbo petrol rear-wheel drive Giulia. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. Its 200 BHP was more than adequate for a small place like Malta. And with a 6.6 second time of 0 to 100 km/h, it’s not what you would call slow.
Not surprisingly however, I had the most fun in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe when they gave me the 280 BHP Giulia Veloce. All the two liter petrol engines were astonishingly torquey, and responsive. The 5500 RPM redline was a bit unusual to me, especially when you consider the fact that many diesels can now rev to 5000 without an issue.
Even though the Veloce stands for All-wheel drive, the turn-in was almost as crisp as the rest of the versions I tested. The front end of the car doesn’t really feel like it’s any more tasked than in the Rear-wheel drive versions.
The chassis is well dialed in, playful and manageable. Quite possibly, the best I have driven in the segment. The car feels stable and gives you confidence, even when tackling more technical courses at high speeds. Weight distribution is bang on – the engine is further back, the prop-shaft and other elements are made out of carbon-fiber, and the gearbox is at the back.
Those 280 horsepower, actually feel like more than the advertised figure. Acceleration from not to 100 km/h is achieved in an impressive 5.2 seconds. Of course part of that is thanks to the ZF 8-speed automatic. I have experience with that gearbox, as it is widely used by many car manufacturers. I have to say, in the Giulia this gearbox is surprisingly responsive. The only other car I drove, where it felt this eager to shift was probably the Jaguar F-type V6 S. The gear changes are as fast as you can expect them to be for a non-double clutch transmission. When using the shift paddles, there is just a slight delay, but we can forgive that, as it is not a full-on sports car.