What is it?
Alfa Romeo’s Giulia has gained something of an instant cult-status thanks to the high-performance Quadrifoglio model — but this is the model it hopes will bring home the bacon, the Super.
For the Giulia to be considered a commercial success, the Italians will need to lure customers from established mid-sized German cars such as the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class over to the brand.
Alfa’s last attempt to capture that market came in the form of the 159, which failed to make an impact — it’ll be hoping things are different this time around.
The only thing not-quite-so-new about the Giulia is the name — last used in 1978.
The saloon is the first car sporting an Alfa badge to use a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup since 1992, on the 75 compact saloon.
In the case of the Super, there are also three new four-cylinder engines for the Italian brand. A 2.0-litre petrol version is on offer and starts the range, with two 2.2-litre diesel units available. Other models include the Veloce — which packs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and the range-topping Quadrifoglio, propelled by a 2.9-litre V6 engine.
Fallen in love with this drop-dead gorgeous thing, just wish it was blue… pic.twitter.com/WleelY6OgC
— Ryan Hirons (@RyHirons) December 10, 2017
What’s under the bonnet?
Our test car was fitted with the most powerful of the two diesel engines on offer for the Giulia Super, a 2.2-litre unit producing 176bhp and 450Nm of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The combination is capable of taking the saloon from 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 143mph. As for efficiency, fuel economy is claimed at 67.3mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
This is an engine well suited to chewing up the motorway miles, with sufficient mid-range torque perfect for merging on slip roads and overtaking, while the lack of noise from the motor helps create a relaxing ride.
It proves useful too should you take on some more interesting roads, although the automatic gearbox proves quite hesitant at times even in the Dynamic driving mode, which can hamper the fun a bit.
What’s it like to drive?
The Giulia manages to feel nimble despite the saloon car size, which lends itself well to spirited driving. Switch to Dynamic mode, and the steering becomes well-weighted and the suspension firms up to provide an engaging experience — although a little more feel through the wheel would be appreciated.
Fancy taking it easy? Switch the rotary dial to Normal and you’ve now got light — but not overly so — steering to get around without hassle, and softer suspension settings, which provide a supple ride. Visibility around the car is great too, which bodes well for town driving and parking.
All Weather mode takes that and adds more sensitivity to the car’s safety assistance, which does come over as intrusive at times.
How does it look?
The Alfa Giulia takes classic design style cues from the manufacturer’s historically stunning cars and brings them into a modern and sharp package.
Everything is well-proportioned and it’s a dramatic thing to look at from any angle. If street cred is something you want from your mid-sized saloon, look no further.
Sadly, the fit-and-finish of the bodywork is far from that of the Giulia’s rivals, with thick panel gaps somewhat disrupting the otherwise clean styling.
There’s also the badge appeal that comes with owning an Alfa Romeo and you’ll no doubt stand out from the crowd on most roads.
What’s it like inside?
Inside the Giulia, you get the impression that the pursuit to perfect the Quadrifoglio halo car has resulted in an ergonomically designed interior that’s carried through the whole range, lending well to the saloon being a driver’s car. The driving position itself is among the best in its class, slung low and with both pedals and wheel placed near-perfectly.
As for the quality of the interior, partial-leather upholstery and full-leather seats result in a premium-feeling cabin, with little in the way of cheap materials in sight. There are some niggles, though, with sections of the centre console feeling so flimsy, they might break at a touch.
In the back, there’s plenty of space for two adults and as for cargo, there’s 480 litres of boot space — matching that of its rivals.
What’s the spec like?
Standard equipment on Super models includes 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, an eight-speaker audio system, cruise control and an eight-inch infotainment display with Bluetooth and navigation.
Our test car came with £7,720 worth of options including 18-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers, bi-xenon headlights, active suspension and a 14-speaker sound system — bringing the total price to £41,285.
While the list of equipment is good, you’re not quite getting as much for your money as the German rivals, with most similarly-specified coming in shy of £40k.
Also unlike its rivals, the Giulia’s infotainment display is poor. There’s no touchscreen, with the entire system controlled by a singular rotary dial that makes navigating the menus, as well as controlling the sat-nav, frustrating. It feels out of place in 2017.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia manages to pack an engaging and fun driving experience into a sharp-looking package, setting it apart as a genuine alternative in the mid-size saloon market.
In its own right, it’s a superb machine but it’s still unlikely to dethrone the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class as class leaders anytime soon.
It doesn’t offer quite as much value as the Germans, and we suspect the superior fit-and-finish of the rivals will be more appealing to the type of customer in this segment despite the engaging driving experience.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Alfa Romeo Giulia Super
Price as tested: £41,285
Engine: 2.2-litre turbodiesel
Power (bhp): 178
Torque (Nm): 450
Max speed (mph): 143
0-60mph: 6.9 seconds
MPG (combined): 67.3
Emissions (g/km): 109