What's the used Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon like?
It’s fair to say that a number of people have bought a used Alfa Romeo in the past simply because it looked really good and its value had dropped faster than a lift with the cable cut. With the Giulia, though, you have a really compelling used alternative to the executive car norm that competes on performance, running costs and offers a great driving experience to boot, as well as that evocative badge.
Those usual suspects include the German big three: the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But you can also include the Jaguar XE, because both it and the Giulia put plenty of emphasis on being fun to drive, since they’re both available with rear-wheel drive and come with sophisticated suspension setups.
Powering the Giulia is a choice of petrol and diesel engines in a number of different outputs. The range starts with a 197bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, but this can be increased to 276bhp with the Veloce and Veloce Ti versions. The diesel range stems from a 2.2-litre four-cylinder with either 148bhp or 177bhp. Then there’s the top-of-the-range Quadrifoglio – our Used Performance Car of the Year for 2020, no less – with a 2.9-litre V6 that kicks out 503bhp. All engines come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Standard equipment is decent, with all models getting an 8.8in infotainment system that in earlier models is controlled with a rotary dial, plus cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a host safety systems such as lane departure warning, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking.
It actually comes in four trims: Giulia, Super, Speciale and Veloce. The entry-level Giulia trim equips the Alfa with 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a chrome exhaust pipe, LED rear lights and a wealth of safety technology - including that autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and forward collision warning, as mentioned - as standard. Inside there are manually adjustable front seats, a leather-clad steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and lights, and Alfa's infotainment system complete with a 6.5in display, a DAB radio, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Upgrade to Super and 17in alloys, aluminium door sills and part-leather seats are included alongside an uprated infotainment system with a larger 8.8in display and sat-nav, while opting for the Speciale adds numerous luxuries to the package. These include 18in alloy wheels shod in run-flat tyres, bi-xenon headlights, electrically adjustable and heated front sports seats, a heated steering wheel, electrically folding door mirrors and a sporty bodykit.
The range-topping Veloce model gets an unique set of alloys, an upgraded braking system, front parking sensors and lovely crafted aluminium paddle shifters. Those after a more thrilling drive can opt for the lunacy of the Quadrifoglio, which not only gets you a 2.9-litre V6 punching out 503bhp and the ability to propel the Giulia to 191mph at full chat, it also gets a wealth of additional equipment as standard too. These include 19in alloys, more powerful bi-xenon headlights, blind-spot monitoring system, interior ambient lighting, a bespoke leather and Alcantara upholstery, a rear-view camera and a quad-exhaust, not to mention Alfa's clever active aerodynamics package, active torque vectoring system, chassis control and dedicated race mode.
To drive, the Giulia is a lesson in how even a ‘dull’ executive car can be made to handle well. The first thing you’ll notice is the light yet lightning-quick steering that you get used to within a few miles. It helps to disguise the size of the Giulia and makes it feel really nimble, along with the added boon of making parking a breeze, as you can get a lot of steering lock with relatively few turns of the wheel.
The ride has a fluid quality over bumps and is particularly good on Giulias fitted with the adaptive dampers that come as part of an optional Performance Pack. They stiffen up in Dynamic mode, but when you enter a town or come across a poorly maintained bit of Tarmac, you can simply hit a button to slacken them off in an instant.
Inside the Giulia, the fit and finish can’t match that of the 3 Series or A4, but it is smarter than the XE. Space is also better in the Giulia than its British rival, although leg room in the rear still isn’t a patch on that of the A4. The boot, although its opening is rather awkward and hampers usability a little, is among the deepest in the class, and on Speciale versions there's a highly useful 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench as standard.
In 2020 the Giulia was treated to a number of minor updates, with a redesigned centre console and the infotainment system being upgraded to a touchscreen affair, albeit still with a rotary dial to control certain functions, and the interior materials being improved. Quality overall was said to be improved, too, with added advanced driver assistance systems and the Giulia's connectivity upgraded with smartphone mirroring now standard.
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