Even with much of the market's momentum shifting to high-riding crossovers and SUVs, the venerable sport sedan still plays an important role in an automaker's lineup. Just look at something like the BMW 3-Series – it's matured from just a mere automobile into an institution. With the Alfa Romeo Guilia, there's none of that kind of long-standard heritage to lean on (at least stateside). Yet, this spunky four-door has enough verve and vivacity not to need it. It's not a stretch to say that this is the most emotive and impassioned sport sedan out there at the moment; compared with the stoic Germans and reserved Japanese, this hot-blooded Italian is happily perpetuating the stereotype of the archetypal Italian automotive experience.

Best Value

Alfa breaks the Guilia into three distinct tiers: the base model, the volume Ti trim, and the flagship Quadrifoglio. We'd love to say the mighty Quad is the best value here, but fake news doesn't fly here at CarsDirect, even if it does sound like a thoroughbred six-figure exotic. We'll instead put our dreams aside and begrudgingly make a concession for price, which immediately brings us to the Ti Sport model. Compared to the other base and Ti models, it looks the business of a performance sedan. More importantly, when equipped with the must-have $1,350 Performance Package option, it'll act the business of a performance sedan. Standard on the Ti Sport are aluminium column-mounted paddle shifters, performance all-season tires, uniquely bolstered 12-way power seats, and a sport steering wheel.

Spend the extra $1,350 for the performance hardware and the Ti Sport becomes the best driver's car out of all the non-Quad models, while also capturing the fundamental spirit of what both Alfa and the Guilia are all about. Here's ours as it'd be delivered:

  • Model: 2019 Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti Sport
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 280 hp / 306 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 24 City / 33 Hwy
  • Options: Ti Sport Performance Package ($1,350, active suspension, limited slip differential rear axle), Driver Assistance Static Package ($650, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert), Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus ($500)
  • Base Price: $44,190 (including the $1,295 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $46,690

Performance

Alfa-Romeo Giulia

Performance is part and parcel of the Alfa Romeo experience. It's why the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the most powerful engine of its kind in the segment. It's also why it's easier finding an auditory clip of said engine on the Alfa website than it is finding the fuel economy estimates. Who cares about mileage when you can listen to that raspy four run up to redline?

The class-leading 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque is an ample amount of gusto for a turbo engine with only four cylinders and two liters of displacement. The Guilia translates these numbers into a 5.1 second zero-to-60 mph run and a top speed limited to 130 mph. This is an engine that's smooth and responsive across the powerband, and the eight-speed automatic transmission that it's paired with has a good knack of knowing what gear to be in at all times. As good as it is, though, it can't quite match the refinement of BMW's four that can be found in the 3-Series.

Trying to punish the Guilia on lumpy and bumpy roads leads to the refreshing realization that this isn't a car with an uncompromised sport suspension. Yes, it's firm, but engineers left enough leniency in the tuning to let it absorb all the imperfections that scar America's timeworn pavement. Base models with their small 17-inch wheels ride the best, thanks to that big sidewall; the better-looking 18-inchers are a tad more firm over the road, but such is the price paid for style.

Hands down, it's the steering that constantly reminds drivers they're piloting an Alfa. Other sport sedans feel like they've been drugged and numbed compared to the Guilia's downright antsy tiller. It's a joy on the back roads, where every pebble, dip, and divot is transmuted to the driver. It's another story on the highway, where just the tiniest input leads to a spastic dart toward another lane.

As for the Quadrifoglio, it's another beast entirely. The centerpiece of the Quad is its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, a mill that traces its roots directly from the House of Ferrari. With 505 hp and a sound to die for, the visceral thrill it provides alludes to what a four-door Ferrari might be like, were the Prancing Horse marque ever to build such a plebian machine. The zero-to-60 mph time is a 3.8-second affair, and top speed is 170 mph.

Interior and Exterior

Alfa Romeo didn't return to the US only to blend into the background, and the Guilia drips with an Italian style. The large triangular grille up front alludes to the history and heritage of the brand; the rear end doesn't share the same distinctiveness but is handsome and attractive. Purposeful wheel wells, sculptured flanks, and excellent proportions tie it all together.

Quadrifoglios don't go over the top to tell the world what they are, but their subtle touches are worth taking the time to appreciate. Fender flares are larger, diffusers are more pronounced, and four pipes hang out off the back. Like the BMW M5, Mercedes E 63, and other high-dollar super sedans, it doesn't yell out what it can do but instead hints to it with reserved, functional touches.

Inside, it's a driver's cockpit through and through. A fat three spoke steering wheel, nicely bolstered seats, and big windows make the cabin a comfortable place to spend time in, especially if you're the one sawing at the wheel. Back seats are a bit difficult to get into, but there's enough leg room to make shimmying through the narrow door openings worth it. Ample head room can be found both front and rear. The trunk holds only 13 cubic feet of cargo, but there's at least a low and wide trunk floor and a wide-opening trunk lid.

Notably, leather comes standard – something not exactly common in a class that loves to dole out vinyl interiors on lower-spec cars. A standard 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard, but we'd spend the money to trade up to the 8.8-inch system that's optional on base cars and standard on Ti and Quadrifoglio models. Not only does it look better in the center stack, but it's also easier and more intuitive to use. That said, neither system can match the standard set by the Uconnect infotainment system used in nearly all other cars sold by parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The Best and Worst Things

The Guilia is a polarizing car. There'll be those who love it and those who hate it, and not too many in between. The folks who fall into the first camp will be smitten by the eager steering, powerful and responsive engines, and the generous amount of standard features.

And those who will hate it? The first things they'll point to is the steering and the car's generally frazzled demeanor. They'll also dock points for the small trunk, cumbersome infotainment system, and some of the cheap-feeling controls scattered throughout the interior.

Right For? Wrong For?

Alfa-Romeo Giulia

Without a doubt, this is the only choice of sport sedan for the few and proud Alfisti eager to represent the marque. For those who aren't die-hard fans of the brand, the Guilia would be a good fit for those who want a sport sedan in its purest state. Those who are looking for something softer or more mild-mannered would be better off in something like a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or a Lexus IS.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Guilia is a sport sedan boiled down to its essence. The elemental goodness didn't get buried behind layers of electrical dopamine or hundreds of pounds of extra weight, like what's happened with the late model BMW 3-Series. Here, instead, is a car that offers the tactile and emotional feedback that's reminiscent of what this segment used to represent. For those who have been mourning the death of unfiltered analog driving, the Guilia is an Italian tonic that goes down as sweet and smooth as a glass of Sangiovese.