Gorgeous from any angle, the2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sportdoesn’t need to win over the purists – that mountain has already been climbed. The ‘Alfisti’, as they are known, were on board from the minute the Giulia first broke cover.
Now with more standard equipment and sharper value, it needs to go to work on buyers who might have previously overlooked the stylish Italian sedan. Market share is, after all, the stock and trade of a successful vehicle in any segment.
On looks alone, then, the Giulia punches well above its weight. That sentiment seems to be pretty much universal. Park it next to any other sedan from the established clique, and the Giulia catches the eye in a way no other can. Think Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class – all undoubtedly proficient cars, but none as beautiful as the Giulia in the metal.
In any case, styling is subjective, and as we keep reiterating, this segment is about substance as much as style in the mind of the buyer.
The Giulia range is now trimmed down to three model grades from four, with the Sport we’re testing here kicking things off from $63,950 before on-road costs. You can read our pricing and specification guide to get the lowdown on the mid-tier Veloce and range-topping Quadrifoglio.
While the $63,950 starting price is a little steeper than the old model’s entry point, the Sport grade we’re testing is effectively a replacement for the Super model, with the standard features of the Veloce added in. In that sense, you’re saving a little bit of money once you run the numbers.
In short, there’s a $3000 premium over the old Giulia, but it's $1950 less than the model it replaces head-to-head. That’s a good start, then.
|2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport|
|Engine||2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder|
|Power and torque||147kW @ 5000rpm, 330Nm @ 1750rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.0L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||8.1L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five stars (tested 2016)|
|Warranty||Three years / 150,000km|
|Main competitors||BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4|
|Price as tested||$68,260 plus on-road costs|
Over the base price, our tester has Vesuvio Grey metallic paint (yes, please), which adds $1355, and there’s also the ‘Lusso Pack’, which of course means luxury in Italian. That brings with it a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, ambient LED interior lighting and adaptive dampers, and costs $2955. Seems to me it’s less about luxury than it is about quality equipment, but that’s nit-picking. Those additions mean our test vehicle costs $68,260 before on-road costs.
Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers, privacy glass, sports seats, sports steering wheel, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, and tasteful alloy trim inside the cabin.
One of the Giulia’s highlights that you don’t see, but you definitely feel, is the punchy four-cylinder engine. The bi-turbo V6 Giulia Quadrifoglio gets all the plaudits, and for good reason, but the four-cylinder in the Sport is a quality engine. Especially for what is a base-model car. In fact, that’s a point we need to keep reminding ourselves on during our week with the Giulia. This is the entry-level car, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
Back to the engine. Measuring in at 2.0 litres, the turbocharged four-pot is punchy and responsive generating 147kW at 5000rpm and 330Nm at 1750rpm, with power going through an eight-speed automatic and on to the rear wheels. The auto gets proper and beautifully designed alloy shifter paddles – plus the fact that it’s a conventional automatic and not a dual-clutch auto is no bad thing, in our opinion.
The performance numbers are solid too. 0–100km/h comes up in 6.6 seconds, top speed is 230km/h, and according to the ADR combined fuel claim, the Giulia will use just 6.0L/100km on the test cycle. We saw numbers in the low tens in traffic, but the live readout settled into 8.1L/100km after our usual highway loop and regular urban work.
Subtle interior changes have only added to what was an already attractive offering. The new steering wheel is paired with a revised centre console design and smart storage options. There’s a small receptacle for the remote fob to the left of the shifter, which is clever in that it stops the fob sliding around cupholders or door pockets.
We also loved the integration of the wireless charger, which sits at the leading end of the console bin and is canted in a way that stops the phone from moving around. If you want to use a cable connection, you can sit the phone outside the charger easy enough, and the cable doesn’t get tangled or in the way.
The 8.8-inch touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, worked faultlessly for us on test and was responsive to commands. Alfa Romeo tells us the interface is new, too, and it certainly worked well for us. The menus aren’t overly convoluted or difficult to work out either, and it’s a system that is pretty easy to master.
The general ambience of the cabin is a strong point. Our tester’s cabin is undoubtedly dark with all the black trim, but it feels premium and it’s comfortable. The sports seats are comfortable and supportive, and there’s more than enough adjustment for the driver. The bolstering at the edges of the driver’s seat won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but I liked it, and I’m no string bean.
Space in the second row is compromised by taller occupants up front, but that’s par for the course in this segment for just about every vehicle, to be fair. Occupants in the second row get air vents, but no temperature controls, and there’s one USB port. There’s a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders to augment the smaller bottle holders in the rear door pockets. Like the main competitors in this segment, if you frequently need to use the second row for tall adults, you almost certainly need to look at a segment larger.
The boot is more than adequate, though, with 480L of available storage. The second-row seats fold down, too, increasing the flexibility of the storage space. No spare for our tester, with run-flat tyres the standard offering. For mine, the lack of a spare of any kind does detract a little from the Giulia’s otherwise effortless long-haul touring abilities.
Head out for a drive, and it becomes immediately apparent that the Giulia is endowed with the renowned Italian passion for driving. This is a driver-focused sedan, and it’s proficient at that very task – effortlessly so. The engine, as I stated above, is punchy and responsive, and it’s willing to either lug along or rev hard to redline. It works beautifully with the eight-speed auto that is both as smooth as you could want, and as sharp as you’d need when you wind the wick up.
The chassis is lively and well behaved, rarely unsettled and difficult to drag out of its comfort zone. The steering, which does feel pretty meaty at low speed, comes into its own when you hook into a twisty road. Turn-in and balance through corners are excellent, and aided by how well tuned the chassis is. None of that sporting ability comes at the cost of comfort either, with the Giulia riding compliantly over poor urban roads.
Switch into ‘Dynamic’ mode if you really want to experience what the Giulia Sport can do. Again, it doesn’t feel like an entry-grade vehicle. 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero rubber measures in at 225mm wide up front and 255mm out back, and helps the Giulia to stick to the tarmac reassuringly no matter how hard you push. The tyres don’t generate a wall of noise either, and the cabin is actually quite nicely insulated over any surface.
Big brakes – 330mm up front and 320mm at the rear – continue to bite hard, even after a long run, and they pull the Giulia up efficiently and without fuss.
The Giulia gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating dating back to 2016 and is covered by a three-year/150,000km warranty. Capped-price services cover the first 60,000km or five years, and the intervals are 12 months/15,000km. At the time of testing, those first services total just over $2800.
It really is a shame that the Giulia isn’t a more common sight on our roads. It’s a beautiful car, but it’s also a quality sedan that is as much fun to drive as it is sensible for day-to-day use. Alfa is still trying to recover lost ground in Australia, but a quality product like the Giulia should assist with that.