The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the storied Italian brand's first real volley in its battle to return to the US market after years of teasing. Originally introduced in 2017 to rave reviews of its driving dynamics and well-deserved criticism of its reliability, this beautiful sedan remains one of the most intriguing offerings in the compact premium sports sedan segment.
USED 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia FOR SALE NEAR ME
Hamilton Nissan of Hagerstown, MD (41 mi)
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Overview
What's New for 2018
Despite its youth, Alfa Romeo's parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is making some welcome additions to the Giulia line. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available on all trim levels, freeing owners of the woeful standard infotainment system. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking (marketed as Forward Collision Warning Plus) and a Harmon Kardon audio system are now standard on the range-topping Quadrifoglio – both items remain optional on the base and Ti trims.
New wheel options and minor packaging changes round out the rest of the updates for 2018.
Choosing Your Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo offers the Giulia with a choice of two powertrains, and a simple look at their outputs should be enough to tell you which you'll want. The base is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder with 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque.
This well-balanced engine can scoot the Giulia and Giulia Ti to 60 miles per hour in a brisk 5.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 149 mph. It's also significantly more potent than the equivalent four-cylinders from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. It's just as thrifty, too, returning 24 miles per gallon in the city, 33 highway, and 27 combined. Adding the optional all-wheel-drive system raises the Giulia's price $2,000 and lowers those figures to 23, 31, and 26, respectively.
For those that need a bit more velocità, there's the Giulia Quadrifoglio and its 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6. This engine is a gem, producing 505 hp, 443 lb-ft of torque, and blessing the Quadrifoglio – Italian for four-leaf clover – to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. This engine will keep going right up to 191 mph. It also sounds like God's own pit bull under hard throttle, a vicious, enthusiastic exhaust note that bellows at every opportunity.
Unsurprisingly, that furor doesn't do well at the pumps. The Giulia Quad returns EPA estimates of 17 mpg city, 24 highway, and 20 combined (although if you drive it as Alfa intends, those figures will be far lower) and is only available with rear-wheel drive.
Both four- and six-cylinder Giulias put their power down through a rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Sorry purists, the only way to get a manual Giulia is to cross the pond.
The Giulia's enthusiastic powertrains are just a gateway drug to Italian driving nirvana. All Giulias feature super-fast, direct steering and firm suspensions – adaptive dampers are available on Ti models with the Sport Package and standard on the Quadrifoglio – that deliver what's arguably the nimblest handling character in the class. The Giulia is a pure joy to fling around. Brembo brakes are standard, although they're electronically controlled, so brake feel isn't great except in aggressive cases.
The Giulia and Giulia Ti share a few common option packages. A $950 Navigation Package upgrades the standard 8.8-inch infotainment screen with a dedicated navigation option (which is redundant, now that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available), while the $1,500 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package adds a slew of active safety systems. Look for adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams. The 14-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system rings up at $900, while a panoramic sunroof is a $1,350 option.
The Giulia is available in three dedicated trim levels.
Tempting though it may be, the Giulia is a driver's car and works best when optioned with sporty features rather than luxurious ones. Grab a Ti Sport with the Performance Package for under $45,000 and find a twisty road – if that doesn't appeal to you, the best recommendation we can make is to buy a Mercedes-Benz C300 instead.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review
Decades after it left the US market, Italian icon Alfa Romeo returned last year to much fanfare from driving purists eager for the charms of a balanced, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan. The first mainstream member of the brand's reentry, the Giulia sedan, runs the gamut from high-$30,000 sport sedan to $50,000 luxury car to $75,000-plus super sedan.
We want nothing more than to suggest the high-performance, 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio is the best value in the Giulia range, but with a starting price of $75,295 (including a hefty $1,595 destination charge), we just can't. Nor do we suggest grabbing the non-Ti base model, owing to not only its lack of standard equipment but its lack of upgrades.
Instead, the sweet spot is the Ti. Grab the Sport Package, because this is an Alfa Romeo and optioning it as a luxury car is a waste of its talents. It's only a $2,500 addition but adds 19-inch wheels in Alfa's awesome five-hole design, as well as more stylish front and rear fascias, super-supportive front seats, a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, and the best paddle shifters in the business.
The Driver Assistance Static Package is an affordably priced upgrade at $650, adding blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and auto-dimming rearview mirrors. Enthusiasts should grab the $1,200 Ti Sport Performance Package for its adaptive suspension and mechanical limited-slip differential, but the average consumer won't notice the difference.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, but customers that live somewhere that gets regular snow will want to consider the $2,000 all-wheel-drive system.
Here's how we'd configure our Giulia.
- Model: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti
- Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output: 280 hp / 306 lb-ft
- Transmission:Eight-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
- MPG: 24 City / 33 Hwy
- Options: Sport Package ($2,500, paddle shifters, sport seats, sport steering wheel, 19-inch wheels, sport front and rear fascias), Driver Assistance Static Package ($650, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and auto-dimming mirrors), navigation ($950)
- Base Price:$42,140 (including the $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$45,290
How does the Giulia perform? In a word, it's stunning. That's true of both the base four-cylinder car and the high-performance Quadrifoglio. Both cars share super-fast steering racks, amplifying even tiny inputs to give the Giulia a darty, sharp handling character. Firm suspensions and stellar tuning mean feedback both through the chassis and the steering is among the best in the class.
While Alfa Romeo builds the Giulia with both a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic, only the auto is available in the US. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because the eight-speed is one of the brilliant German-built units used not only by Fiat Chrysler, but by BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, and a host of other high-end automakers. It's excellent.
In manual mode, there are fast, aggressive upshifts and downshifts. But leave the Giulia in automatic, and it's a calm, intelligent transmission that matches throttle inputs well and does a good job of blending into the background. This is true with both the four- and six-cylinder model.
But the heart of the Giulia is its two engine options. The base four-cylinder, a 2.0-liter, turbocharged unit, is smooth and capable. Low-end torque is impressive, and the engine pulls hard all the way up to the redline. It sounds good too, lacking the buzzy nature of some of its rivals while still offering more presence. It's a very likable engine and is one we can't wait to see FCA use in other vehicles (a version of this engine is already slated for the new Wrangler and the updated Cherokee).
The Quadrifoglio's engine is an entirely different beast. Essentially a Ferrari California T's 3.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 that's had a pair of its cylinders cleaved off, this 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 generates 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. That's only slightly less than the 552 ponies from the Ferrari unit this engine is based on. Unsurprisingly, its performance is blistering.
Remarkably powerful and willing to rev, there's never a shortage of power from the V6. Drive it properly, and the 2.9-liter can move the Giulia Quadrifoglio from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.8 seconds. It sounds great, too, with a bellicose exhaust note that stands apart from the muscular V8s favored by Mercedes-Benz and the straight-sixes from BMW.
That said, the 2.9-liter isn't for the faint of heart. Its power is occasionally difficult to manage, particularly if drivers don't take the time to warm up the rear tires – unlike the four-cylinder Giulia, the Quadrifoglio is only available with rear-wheel drive.
Shortcomings are few but aren't easy to ignore. The biggest problem the Giulia faces is its all-electric brake pedal. It's great for aggressive driving, but around town, the pedal is maddeningly vague and hard to modulate. The line between smooth stop and neck-jerking brake at low speeds is remarkably thin, although the pedal is better at freeway speeds.
The ride can also get too firm, specifically on the Quadrifoglio. We spent a lot of our time behind the wheel with the adaptive suspension in its softer setting, simply because the default was too firm. Wind and tire roar – the latter was a particular issue in the Quadrifoglio, with its takes-no-prisoners tires – are also constant. We'd advise avoiding the optional panoramic sunroof and going for smaller wheels if you're looking for more refinement from this Italian.
The Giulia is lovely from every angle. Its iconic triangular grille and aggressive headlights present an attractive face, while the subtle styling touches in its profile and a long-hood, short-deck layout emphasize its sportiness. Go for the Quadrifoglio, and you'll get a more aggressive body kit, larger wheels, a pair of hood vents, an almost-silly quad-tipped exhaust system, and a prominent rear diffuser.
The cabin is more of a mixed bag, though. The layout is wonderfully functional – we dig the steering-wheel-mounted start button and the flat-bottomed wheel itself, while the available column-mounted paddle shifters are among the best on the market. Unlike wheel-mounted paddles, these real metal units stay put when turning the wheel, so upshift is always on the right and downshift is always on the left. They're huge, beautiful to look at, and have a perfect action.
But some disappointing plastics, both at and below eye level, hurt the experience. Consider grabbing the optional leather-wrapped dash, which hides some of the more offensive materials. It can't do anything for the cheap uppers on the door panels, though.
The front seats are very supportive, although we're leaning toward the snugger seats available as part of the Sport Package than the nicer upholstery of the Lusso models. The bolsters are big and keep both front and back seat passengers in place. Unsurprisingly, it's easy to settle into a comfortable driving position, while sightlines fore, aft, and laterally are impressive. The second row isn't quite so nice. Legroom is tight and the seats themselves aren't all that comfortable.
The infotainment system is also a pain in the neck. Unlike the rest of Fiat Chrysler's products, which use a fantastic Uconnect system, Alfa Romeo gets its own setup on a horizontally-oriented 8.8-inch display (a smaller 6.8-inch unit is available, although we haven't been able to sample it yet). The non-touchscreen display operates via a left-to-right menu system and a large, flimsy feeling dial. Flanked by a pair of buttons that allow quick access to the main menu, it's a difficult and unintuitive system that's also occasionally slow to respond to inputs.
The Best and Worst Things
The Giulia's steering and general handling demeanor is just so perfectly tuned in for driving pleasure that it's hard to get out of this car without a smile on your face.
While we didn't experience any issues during our loans, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the widespread reliability issues that have impacted other members of the media while testing the new Giulia. These are new cars, and issues are expected, but multiple outlets have reported problems with their test vehicles, including CarsDirect's sister site, Motor Authority.
Right For? Wrong For?
Driving enthusiasts should crave the Alfa Romeo driving experience. Put the Giulia toe to toe with any other vehicle in its segment, and it will almost certainly deliver a superior driving experience.
The Giulia has too much wind and tire noise and lacks the solid construction demanded by today's luxury shoppers.
The Bottom Line
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a sports sedan without compromise, delivering a charming driving experience at both ends of its nearly $40,000 price delta. But that uncompromising nature means it struggles with its luxury aspirations, making it a vehicle that requires careful consideration among today's shoppers. If driving fun is your number one priority, though, there's no better option around.