When the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan was reborn in 2016, it was billed as the beginning of the iconic brand's rebirth. While the late Sergio Marchionne's audacious plan has met many a stumbling block, the product itself remains under-appreciated.
That is presuming you want the sportiest and sexiest four-door, with an outsider badge to kill for. The Germans may produce more accomplished all-rounders, but great love affairs are tempestuous right?
That previous sentence paraphrases what Alfisti have claimed for years, and I’m inclined towards sympathy.
After all, it was Alfa Romeo driver Enzo Ferrari who founded his eponymous company in 1929, and it was Alfa Romeo that gave us all-time classics from the 1931 8C to the 1965 GTA, and the original Giulia sedan made between 1962 and 1978. You get the drift…
Here we are revisiting the Giulia Veloce spec, which sits below the hardcore (sort of) Ferrari-engined Quadrifoglio. It’s priced at $72,900 before on-road costs. That figure lines up against the BMW 330i ($70,900), Mercedes-Benz C300 ($72,700), and Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE ($71,490).
This all makes the Veloce particularly important from a sales perspective, since this is the 'sweet spot' for mid-sized sedan buyers – the pricepoint most are inclined to shoot for.
Frankly, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to spend an extra $7000 over the mid-range Giulia Super if you have the means, since that car has a shorter features list and less power.
The 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce spec’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine makes 206kW and 400Nm (a 330i’s 2.0-litre offers 190kW/400Nm), and is mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. This is 59kW/70Nm more than the entry-grade Giulia and Giulia Super variants.
Like all its main rivals, the Giulia sits on a rear-wheel-drive platform, which Alfa codenames ‘Giorgio’. That’s a bit more evocative than BMW’s ‘CLAR' or Mercedes-Benz’s ‘MRA’...
The zero to 100km/h dash is dispatched in a sprightly 5.7 seconds, which is nowhere near the Quadrifoglio’s neck-snapping 3.9s time, but superior to most competitors including that 330i (5.8s).
It’s not the most sonorous engine really, lacking the growl that old Twin Spark units had, and I’d love an effective active exhaust with flaps linked to the driving mode selector dial.
But it sure is punchy, hitting its power peak at 5250rpm and offering all its torque at 2250rpm. Stab the throttle and you’re pinned to the seat as firmly as anyone would rightly expect at this price.
I adore the steel paddle shifters attached to the column rather than the wheel, which have a lovely smooth finish and a damped pull action. They’ll also let you flirt with the redline, and given the gearbox’s tune isn’t as slick as BMW’s in terms of rapid downshifts, they’re often begging to be used.
Claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption is 6.1 litres per 100km using premium petrol, once you choose the eco mode on the DNA Driving Mode dial that retards throttle response and upshifts quickly.
By contrast, over my combined country and city driving loop of 180km, with an average speed of 51km/h and one 20km stretch of twisty stuff, I averaged 8.8L/100km.
The suspension comprises a dynamic double-wishbone front set-up, and a multi-link set-up at the rear called ‘Rear Alfa Link Suspension with Vertical Rod’. The weight distribution is near 50:50.
The Veloce also gets active dampers that can add or subtract stiffness and control depending on the surface you’re tackling, thanks to a solenoid valve that modifies the hydraulic flow inside the shock, plus a rear limited-slip diff to tame torque sent across the axle.
The variable steering is incredibly reactive right from centre which, coupled to the stiff chassis, gives the car a zest for turning into corners. Push harder and you’ll feel that rear-biased oversteer kick in. The low-slung driving position inspires you to find dynamic roads.
The ride quality on standard 19-inch darkened alloy wheels (with signature five-hole spoke design) and hard-sidewall run-flat tyres is actually decent at high speeds, firm but rarely brittle or crashy. At low speeds in the wet, sharp turns will cause the front end to slip and skip a little.
When you’re up and running, you have tech such as a blind-spot monitoring system in the side mirrors, active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and AEB. There’s a lane-departure warning that beeps when you’re leaving your lane, but it doesn’t steer the car for you like a BMW or Benz.
The Giulia’s cabin is a mixed bag. People hopping out of an older car or a non-premium offering will be wowed, but the German competition all offer more sophisticated cabin tech, if that’s what you’re after. Hell, so does a new Mazda 3 sedan...
The hardy leather seats are nicely bolstered and upholstered, and feature embossed headrests. The driver’s side seat has a few memory presets, too. The thin-rimmed steering wheel is delightful, especially considering I had just jumped out of a new 'G20' 3 Series with its ridiculously thick M Sport tiller.
I also love the Alfa’s starter button below the left-side wheel spoke, and the use of the word Giri on the tacho. No Benzina label on the fuel gauge, though…
There are soft leather-like surfaces on the dash and doors, and knee pads adorn the transmission tunnel. It all feels really solidly made actually, the more you push and prod. Our test car had 13,000 hard-done kilometres on it and there were no squeaks.
Of course, there are flaws. The rotary dials controlling infotainment and driving mode selection are made of cheap, cheap plastic. Ditto the gear shifter.
The infotainment and mapping system displayed on the 8.8-inch centre screen is fairly dated in its appearance compared to the latest Germanic systems, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto without a touchscreen just doesn’t work that well, and the reverse camera’s resolution is grainy. Side note: Good thing an update is coming!
Finally, a head-up display projecting key data onto the windscreen should be fitted at this price, given the fact that it keeps your eyes on the road.
It’s pretty well-specified. Beyond the features already mentioned, you also get seat heating, parking sensors at both ends, 35W Bi-Xenon headlights with auto high-beam, privacy glass, and a 10-speaker sound system with 400W and a sub.
Our test car had an optional $2200 two-pane sunroof with electric glass up front, but this is not worth buying if you’re tall since it dents head room. I’m 194cm and my head scraped the roof even with the seat at its lowest setting. Moreover, the cloth cover is too thin to protect properly from the Aussie sun.
As with most rivals, the 4643mm-long Giulia is tight in the back, though the seats are comfy, there are rear vents, top-tether and ISOFIX anchors, two USB inputs, and a 60:40 seat-folding mechanism to expand on the average-for-the-class 480L boot.
From an ownership perspective, you get three years of warranty and roadside assist, while service intervals are annual or 15,000km. The pricing for the first five visits is $2865 ($345, $645, $465, $1065, $345), which isn’t particularly cheap.
A BMW five-year package on the 3 Series costs $1650, while Jaguar will charge you $1750 for five years.
But let’s not end on a negative note. Sure, if you want the most cutting-edge infotainment and driver-assistance features, then go for one of the big three German luxury cars (3 Series, C-Class, Audi A4), and if you want a car with the build quality of a battle tank, then the Lexus IS says hello.
But the Giulia Veloce is one new car that’s very hard to dislike because it’s brimming with design savvy and charm, comes from a long lineage of icons, and has depth to its mechanical engineering making it a great drive. Just like any good outsider…