When you drive a lot of cars for a living, rarely do get behind the wheel of a brand that has a rich history, but that you’ve never actually driven. So, needless to say, I was extra excited to learn I’d get a week with the Alfa Romeo Giulia. This car has gotten a big marketing push lately and is also getting some buzz from the 2018 version being named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. Welcome to the U.S. market Alfa Romeo.

To the average consumer there’s a lot of mystery. The average car buyer doesn’t know about Alfa’s rich racing heritage. Most don’t even know that it’s part of the Fiat-Chrysler family.

EXTERIOR

The looks are definitely different. The triangular grille stands out amongst other small sporty cars. The European styling is evident all over this car. The back shows off a dual exhaust with a small spoiler. The Giulia is a small car. With a small rear window and a sloping C-pillar, the Giulia seems front end heavy aesthetically. The shamrock over the front wheel well and before the A-Pillar indicates that this is no ordinary Giulia (there isn’t such a thing anyway), but that it’s the Quadrifoglio version, which has race-inspired styling, inside and out, including under the hood.

PERFORMANCE

Normal Giulia’s have spunky power with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 280 horses, but the Quadrifoglio version is special. Like Autobahn, race-track, open-road special. There’s a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes an astonishing 505 horsepower. There’s a nasty growl to the engine. Even at the stoplights, the engine shakes a little (if you disable the stop/start, which I always did). The eight-speed automatic transmission performs well with no noticeable turbo lag. There’s paddle shifters to amp up the fun and take control of the car’s performance. The rear-wheel drive Giulia Quadrifoglio has several driver settings including race mode, which changes the dynamics significantly. This is one of the most enjoyable small cars I’ve ever driven. And sadly, I didn’t get many opportunities to really let it loose. But on winding, country roads it was a blast. Off the line it was a beast. In all conditions, the Giulia earned that Shamrock!

INTERIOR

Inside, the Giulia has ample luxury and fantastic touchpoints. It has enough personality, much like the exterior, to feel different and special. The racing-style seats of the Quadrifoglio are stiff and not overly comfortable. If you’re 5’8” and in great shape, it may work, but for the average person with a dad body (me!), the seats weren’t enjoyable and would be tough on long trips. Although as fun as it is to drive, you don’t care. The back seat is small. The back-seat legroom is similar to that of the Chrysler 200. The infotainment system was too European and didn’t model after Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect system. That was disappointing. The cumbersome infotainment system detracted from an otherwise quality interior and beautiful-looking center stack. The Quadrifoglio features are extra special and would be the only way I’d consider the Giulia.

The trunk has 12 cubic feet of space. That’s small, even for the small car segment. It will fit golf clubs, but otherwise, won’t be overly useful.

PRICE

The regular Giulia has a starting price of $36,000. However, the special and suped up Quadrifoglio has starting price of $72,000. Optional equipment added value to the car like the driver assist package with lane departure, collision warning, and adaptive cruise control as well as the advanced Harmon-Kardon sound system. The Giulia’s headlights bent with the road and as you turned, the headlights turned and bent. This was great for fun night driving, and part of the optional package. As such, my tester had a final price of $76,995.

FUEL ECONOMY

The EPA gives the Giulia Quadrifoglio a rating of 17 mpg/city and 24 mpg/highway. File this under, I reported the facts, but also, with a car like this, you don’t care about the fuel economy. It’s just so much fun, and the more you get into the gas pedal, the more that engine makes such a sweet sound. The exhilaration offsets any worries about trips to the gas station.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia was my last car of 2017 and will rank as one of my favorites of the entire model year. I see why it gets the accolades. The car industry needs more driver-focused, different-looking little cars like this and fewer boring crossovers!

SPECS

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Price/As tested price…………………….. $72,000/$76,99524

Mileage…………………………………… 17 mpg/city;  mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.9-liter V6

Horsepower…………………………… 505 hp/443 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic

Drive Wheels………………………… Rear-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point…………………… Cassino, Italy

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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