Class: Premium Compact Car
Miles driven: 272
Fuel used: 10.6 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 25.6 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||280-hp 2.0-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbo 4-cyl|
Driving mix: 35% city, 65% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/31/26 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas required
Base price: $43,345 (not including $1295 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Verde Visconti green metallic exterior paint ($600), Ti Lusso AWD Package 22X ($2500), Active Driver Assist Package Ti Lusso ($3250), dual-pane sunroof ($1350), heated rear seat ($350), high performance bi-xenon headlamps ($700), 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio ($900), wireless charging pad ($200), colored brake calipers ($350)
Price as tested: $54,840
The great: Nimble, athletic handling; crisp acceleration
The good: Classy interior trim; uniquely Italian character; competitive pricing
The not so good: Alfa Romeo brand’s iffy reliability record and sparse dealer network; some quirky controls; cramped rear seat
The mailman came up the steps to deliver a package but paused a moment to admire the sleek, dark-green sport sedan in the driveway.
“What kind of car is that?” he asked, simultaneously calculating how many girlfriends its driver might attract.
“Alfa Romeo Giulia,” I said.
“I’ve never heard of that,” was his astonished reply.
You’re not the only one, Jimmy. The premium compact sedan has been plying American roads since 2017, when its arrival was eagerly awaited by an automotive cognoscenti with long memories and an appreciation for the Italian marque. Unfortunately for Alfa Romeo, that’s still the car’s audience. According to industry weekly Automotive News, 2019 U.S. sales of Giulias came to just 8704 units—and that was down from 11,519 for 2018. Meanwhile, European segment rivals like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class were having no such trouble, accounting for almost 50,000 sales each in ’19.
You can’t blame the withering fondness for sedans, either. That trend isn’t stopping brands like BMW and M-B, and Alfa’s sport-utility, the Stelvio, has outsold the Giulia by only a few hundred units per year since its 2018 debut. No, this is an Alfa Romeo problem, the struggle of a brand to reestablish itself in America in the face of uneven reliability and a limited dealer network.
Giulias like the 2020 Ti Lusso that Consumer Guide editors drove make you want to pull for Alfa to make it in the US of A. Even this luxury-leaning model exhibits delightful handling and braking characteristics. Steering is precise and linear, and body motions are impressively restrained in cornering and lane changes. Ride is firm, even in the “Natural” drive mode, but it’s never brutish, and drivers enjoy a good feel for the road from the chassis and steering.
All but the high-performance Quadrifoglio model feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. (The twin-turbo-V6 “Quad” is AWD only.) The four makes 280 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 306 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm, and with AWD—as on CG’s test car—can propel a Giulia from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, the manufacturer claims. Power builds quickly and smoothly, and emits a pleasantly sporty exhaust note along the way. The 8-speed automatic transmission kicks down promptly for assured passing. “Dynamic” drive mode enhances engine performance and makes gear shifts a touch faster too.
Four-cylinder Giulias with all-wheel drive are rated by the EPA at 23 mpg in city driving, 31 mpg in highway use, and 26 mpg combined. This tester saw 26.79 mpg from his stint of 180.6 miles, 40 percent of which was city-style driving—and that was noticeably better than the 24.15 mpg he got from a rear-drive ’17 Ti in similar circumstances. A stop/start feature is standard, and the “Advanced Efficiency” drive setting enables cylinder deactivation to help conserve the requisite premium fuel.
The Ti Lusso is effectively created out of $2500 worth of goodies added to the Ti model that is third from the bottom of famiglia Giulia. That buys 18-inch alloy wheels in a model-specific 20-spoke design, “luxury”-grade leather seat upholstery (in a choice of four colors), 8-way power-adjustable front seats, “Technoleather” steering wheel, leather dash and upper-door trim, bright-aluminum pedal trim, and an air-quality system. The effect is a plush, attractive cabin. The test car had the “Crema” interior with light-tan seats, lower door panels, lower dash, console, carpets, and mats, with light walnut accent trim.
CG’s test car reached its $54,840 final price (from a starting point of $47,140 with delivery) thanks to a generous load of options headed by the Active Driver Assist Package. This $3250 group adds navigation; an infrared windshield; automatically dimming exterior mirrors; and a host of driver aids, some of which deliver “level II” autonomous-driving capability: self-stopping and starting traffic-jam assist, lane-keep assist, active blind-spot assist, traffic-sign recognition, driver-attention alert, active cruise control with full-stop capability, and automatic high-beam-headlight control.
Availability of the Driver Assist option isn’t all that’s new for the 2020 Giulia. Alfa updates it with a more flexible (but still-complicated) infotainment system and a revised layout for the center console. The Infotainment unit’s 8.8-inch central display is now a touchscreen that can be tapped and swiped to access and activate things like audio, navigation, apps, and more—though attention-diverting physical controls remain on the console. Saving stations from the standard satellite radio is not as direct a process as inputting AM and FM presets, and response to commands is a little slow. The slight console revision moves the lever for the electronic parking brake to a place beside the transmission shifter, which is now framed by a bright bezel. The drive-mode selector and remote controls for the infotainment system employed in earlier years continue to be used.
Interior space isn’t bad. There is enough rear-seat room to comfortably hold a sub-6-foot adult, but headroom will be a little tight, and rear door openings are somewhat small, complicating exits. Driving gauges show up well. Convenient rotary dials quickly set temperature and fan speed for the dual-zone automatic climate system; buttons for other functions rest between the dials. Storage counts a nicely sized glove box, smallish covered console box, pull-out bin to the left of the steering column, and net pouches on the backs of the front seats and on the front-passenger side of the floor tunnel. There are twin covered cup holders in the console, two more cup holders in the rear armrest, and pockets in all four doors.
The Giulia’s trunk space is not overly abundant—it will seem narrow across the middle—but the space is nicely finished. The sections of the 40/20/40 folding rear seat (the center portion can serve as a pass-through for long objects) fold flat with the trunk floor, but a bulkhead narrows the threshold between the trunk and seating area, which will restrict loading some items.
Attractive styling, sporting behavior, and sensible prices should make the Giulia a better seller than it is. It won’t be until Alfa Romeo overcomes its underlying issues.
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Lusso Gallery
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia
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