2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
December 5, 2018

The 2019 Alfa Romeo is the cognoscenti’s sports sedan, and not just because it’s Italian.

Few sports sedans bristle with personality like the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia. An eager terrier with curvy styling and performance tires, the 2019 Giulia entertains more than it frustrates.

But it does frustrate at times, which is how we land at 6.4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the Giulia lineup gains a host of new wheel designs and revised trim packages, none of which dilute its character. Whether in Giulia, Ti, Sport, or Quadrifoglio guise, Alfa Romeo’s four-door is a spicy foil to staid Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi rivals.

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Base Giulias use a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 280 horsepower to shuttle power to the rear or all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Giulia Quadrifoglio—that’s Italian for four-leaf clover—models keep the 8-speed and rear-wheel drive but swap in a Ferrari-massaged twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 rated at a thundering 505 horsepower. No Giulia is mild, but the gap between the two engines is enormous.

Quick, fast-reacting steering makes the Giulia enjoyable to shuffle down a winding road and a bear to keep straight on a long highway. Strong brakes bring the four-door to a halt with a quickness. Regardless of wheel choice, the Giulia’s ride is firm and composed. It’s not a match for the Mercedes C-Class’ serenity, but it suits the Alfa’s character. Quadrifoglios ride on an an adaptive suspension that makes for a worthwhile option on the Ti. At the twist of a knob, the Giulia morphs from commuter comfortable to track-ready monster.

No matter where it’s driven, the Giulia draws eyes. It’s well-proportioned and intricately detailed, with nods to Alfa’s considerable heritage at every corner.

Inside, the Giulia’s dashboard isn’t as imaginative as its exterior, although wood and aluminum trim options dress it up enough. Alfa’s 6.5- and 8.8-inch screens have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility accessed via a chintzy control knob. The baked-in infotainment software is balky and is paired to a screen as bright as a winter day in Winnipeg, however.

Front-seat riders have tight, but comfortable seats. Rear-seat passengers won’t be as happy.

The Giulia has done well in crash tests, but active safety tech is optional on most versions.  

The base Giulia costs about $40,000, which is competitive with its direct rivals. Leather upholstery and power front seats make for a good starting point. Numerous individual options and packages ensure that few Giulias leave Alfa’s Cassino, Italy, assembly plant dressed in the same designer duds.

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2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Styling

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia has curves in all the right places.

Inside and out, the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia is the kind of style icon we’ve come to expect from an Italian car.

We give it two points above average for the 2019 Giulia’s exterior, especially with its new wheel designs this year, and another for a well-wrought interior. That brings it to an 8 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Outside, the Alfa’s shield grille is a nod to the brand’s past. Squinting headlights rise from above its grille and then deep into its fenders. At the rear, a pert decklid with taillights that echo the Giulia’s eyes up front finish it off well. Quadrifoglios are subtly sportier with a larger body kit.  

An unusually large selection of wheels and paint colors lets owners ensure that their Giulias don’t look like all the other Giulias on the block.  

Optional Sport trim packages for the Giulia and Giulia Ti give a hint of Quadrifoglio inside and out, but they do without the big four-leaf clover fender badges that tie the Quad in with Alfa’s racing cars.

Inside, the Giulia’s dashboard cants toward the driver. Controls are largely grouped below the air vents and on the center console. The standard 6.5-inch infotainment screen looks lost in its big housing, but the 8.8-inch widescreen unit fitted to Giulia Ti and Quadrifoglio variants is better integrated.

Alfa offers the Giulia in a variety of interior hues with various aluminum, wood, and carbon fiber trim options.

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2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Performance

In any guise, the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia is thrilling—if not exactly relaxing—to drive.

No matter what’s under its hood, the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a fun sports sedan.

On our scale, it earns accolades for its sharp steering, its strong engines, and its composed handling. That puts it at an 8 out of 10—and the Giulia Quadrifoglio would rate even higher. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base Giulia and Giulia Ti trims use a 280-hp turbo-4 that shuttles power to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional.

The Giulia’s base engine is quiet, smooth, and plenty powerful. Response from any speed is quick, although it’s not quite as refined as the BMW’s turbo-4. The engine mates well to its transmission, which features paddle shifters for sportier driving.

The Giulia’s standard suspension is firm but not punishing, and the relatively tall sidewalls on its standard 17-inch alloy wheels are a good match for pockmarked roads. Live where the pavement is glassy smooth and we’d recommend opting for the available 18- or 19-inch wheels. No matter the roads near you, the optional adaptive dampers are worthwhile—they’re softer than the standard setup in normal mode but tighten up nicely for more spirited driving.

A thick-rimmed steering wheel hints at the Giulia’s sporting intentions immediately. It’s a delight to hold and even more fun to operate. Unlike its rivals, the Giulia filters out little—its steering makes for a tactile, entertaining experience, even if it can feel a little too quick for comfortable highway cruising.

A control knob with Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency—DNA, get it?—modes changes the Giulia’s throttle, transmission, and steering responses. Opt for the adaptive suspension that’s paired with a limited-slip rear differential and Dynamic mode dials in a tighter, but not too harsh feel.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio performance

Opt for the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Alfa discards its base engine in favor of a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated at 505 horsepower paired to a modified version of the 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Alfa brags that the strong V-6 is Ferrari-derived, and it shows. It’s a screamer of a powertrain, eagerly revving toward its 6,500-rpm redline. All 443 pound-feet of torque comes on at a relatively low 2,500 rpm, but the V-6 begs to be pushed hard. The automatic fires off quick, firm shifts in Dynamic and Quad-exclusive Race modes.

The Giulia Quad’s steering is even quicker than the standard model’s, which seems hard to believe until they’re driven back to back. Underneath, the Quad rides on its own version of the adaptive dampers, but it’s still remarkably plush around town in Natural mode and race-car tight when switched into Dynamic or Race mode.

Pushed hard, the Giulia Quadrifoglio has a balanced, neutral feel aided by its sticky 19-inch performance tires. It’s not hard to kick its tail end out with liberal throttle application, but overall it’s a controlled, predictable car that rotates precisely through corners.

The Quad’s standard Brembo brakes are plenty strong and resist fade well. For $8,000, Alfa will fit its flagship sedan with carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes that stop things with authority but get balky in stop-and-go traffic.

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2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a driver’s car—passengers and cargo are not as much of a priority.

Sink into the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia’s firm, well-bolstered driver’s seat, grip its thick three-spoke steering wheel, and take in its excellent forward visibility. The 2019 Giulia is a car for those thrilled by driving.

Rear-seat riders and cargo are not its goal, so we rate the Giulia at 6 out of 10 for its comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Up front, the Giulia’s seats are 10-way power-adjustable and the driver’s seat has memory. Rear-seat riders will find relatively narrow door apertures for access, but decent leg room once they’re back there.

Opt for the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Alfa Romeo will offer you $3,500 Sparco-branded carbon fiber race-style seats wrapped in leather. They’re firm and confining, but just the ticket for a track day. Try before buying, though.

The Giulia’s trunk holds about 13 cubic feet of cargo. That’s low for a compact sports sedan, but what’s there is accessed by a wide opening and the space is flat with few intrusions.  

Standard leather upholstery elevates the 2019 Giulia’s interior against rivals with standard synthetic hides, but some of its controls have a low-buck feel. Optional nappa leather and open-pore wood trim inject some Italian style into the Giulia’s interior, too.

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2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Safety

In what crash tests have been performed, the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia held up well.

It’s a shame to see the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia subjected to crash tests, but at least it earned good scores from the IIHS. Until the NHTSA weighs in, we’ll resist assigning the Giulia a score, however. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For now, the 2019 would earn a 6 out of 10 with a point above average for good independent scores.

The IIHS called the Alfa Giulia a Top Safety Pick in 2018 and noted that its curve-adaptive HID headlights earned a “Good” rating. The standard HID headlights and those with only automatic high-beams scored a concerning “Poor,” however.

For $500 on Giulia and Giulia Ti trims, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is a worthwhile option. That gear is standard on the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

All trims offer additional option packages that bundle features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, lane-departure warnings, and blind-spot monitors. Oddly, active lane control isn’t available on the Giulia.

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5

2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Features

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a good value, but it’s light on some key features.

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia’s price undercuts some of its key rivals and it’s well-equipped from the get-go. It’s held back by a subpar infotainment system with a lousy controller and the lack of standard active safety tech on our scale, however.

We rate it at 5 out of 10—a point above average for its wide range of options and packages that we take back for our gripes with its infotainment software. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Giulia comes in three basic flavors, each with a host of options: base, Ti, and fire-breathing Quadrifoglio.

At around $39,500, the base Giulia has leather trim inside, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, keyless ignition, and a few other features its direct rivals tend to make optional. A Sport package adds $1,300 and includes 18-inch wheels and some appearance upgrades inside and out.

The Giulia Ti builds on that for about $43,500 with heated seats, an 8.8-inch widescreen infotainment screen, wood interior trim, and a few more items. For $500 more, the Giulia Ti Lusso features upgraded wood and leather trim for a more luxurious feel. A Giulia Ti Sport trim throws in 19-inch wheels and a body kit outside for about $44,000.

All-wheel drive costs $2,000 on the base and Ti trims.

With active safety features, adaptive dampers, and a few other option boxes ticked, the Giulia Ti Lusso or Sport we’d buy costs about $47,000. That’s not inexpensive, but it’s less than rivals charge for a similarly optioned model.

At about $75,000, the Giulia Quadrifoglio lacks little. Options include beefy Sparco leather and carbon fiber racing seats, advanced active safety tech, and a handful of cosmetic upgrades. It’s possible, but not necessarily recommended, to buy a $90,000 Giulia Quad. We’re purists and would be just fine with the base model, grazie.

The Giulia’s infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. That’s a good thing since its standard software is a bear to use and isn’t made better by a single knob controller that would feel out of place on a Fiat a third the price. The 6.5- or 8.8-inch widescreen displays are not particularly bright, either. Alfa would be wise to leverage parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ nearly perfect system used in almost every other model.

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2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia’s engine balances performance and efficiency well.

Credit for the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia’s 5 out of 10 score on our green scale goes to its 8-speed automatic transmission. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The gearbox does a great job of keeping revs down at highway speeds, reducing fuel consumption to the tune of 24 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined with rear-wheel drive. Models with all-wheel drive sip a little more gas and are rated at 23/31/26 mpg. Those figures don’t lead the sports sedan class, but they’re competitive and are pretty good considering the Giulia’s 280-hp rating.

Most of the Giulia’s rivals earn in the neighborhood of 27 mpg combined, too.

The Giulia Quad’s Ferrari-bred V-6 is thirstier, but not painfully so for 505 hp. It’s rated at 17/24/20 mpg.

All Giulias require premium fuel.

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$38,195
MSRP based on RWD
 
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6.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 5
Fuel Economy 5
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