Used Alfa Romeo Giulia long-term test: report 1

The Alfa Romeo Giulia has plenty of style and an exotic badge, but is that enough to make it worthy of a used purchase?...

Alfa Romeo Giulia long-term

The car 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 JTDM-2 190 Speciale  

Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here To find out if buying a used Alfa is now an undertaking to be considered with both the head and the heart

Needs to Add a dash of Italian charisma to the daily grind, as well as cope admirably with all that an executive car should do

Mileage 2500 List price new (2019) £37,795 Price new with options £41,765 Value now £28,000 Options fitted Solid paint (£350); Driver Assistance pack (£550); Convenience pack (£450); Climate pack (£250); Panoramic glass sunroof (£1250); Aluminium gearshift paddles (£275); Red brake calipers (£450); Alfa connected services (£395) Test economy 36.1mpg Official economy 51.4mpg

6th February - Ciao bella

Years ago, in the days before penicillin, I owned several Alfa Romeos. These were not, alas, the Alfas that now command huge money for their racing heritage and extreme rarity. Mine were ancient and rusty Alfasuds and Giuliettas and the like, bought for a few hundred pounds and then, after a year or two of motoring pleasure, packed off on the back of a flatbed to the breaker’s yard.

Alfa Romeo Giulia long-term

So I’ve always had a soft spot for the marque, even if over the last 30 years it’s mostly had a soft spot of its own: the cars. Some showed promise, admittedly, but somewhere along the line they all showed the cloven hoof (if not the cloverleaf). Since 2016, though, my eye has been caught by the Alfa Romeo Giulia – an executive saloon of rare style and real ability – and I think the only way to see if it can recapture a little of that old Alfa magic is to take one on, big time.

And thus on my drive now is a Giulia 2.2 JTDM-2 190 Speciale, in Alfa White. Under its curvaceous bonnet lies a four-cylinder 187bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine, good enough to propel this well-equipped rear-wheel-drive executive car from 0-62mph in just 7.1sec and on to a top speed of 143mph. If diesel does not, at first, seem a natural choice for an Alfa, consider the stats: the official combined fuel consumption figure is a highly respectable 51.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 128g/km. The Giulia is, then, nearly twice as quick as any of my old Alfas, and certainly twice as economical.

It’s also much better equipped than my old cars. Speciale trim comes as standard with a whole host of desirable goodies, including a set of fancy 18in five-spoke alloy wheels, an 8.8in infotainment system and six-way electrically adjustable and heated front seats. You can add to that leather seats, a 7.0in digital instrument cluster and smartphone connectivity, as well as some sporty styling touches including nifty aluminium pedals and a leather steering wheel.

On top of that, my car has a few options, including among them that gleaming white paintwork, a panoramic glass sunroof, a Driver Assistance pack which brings a rear-view camera and parking sensors, among other things, and some purposeful-looking red brake calipers nestling within those handsome wheels.

Alfa Romeo Giulia long-term

All in, my car’s normal on-the-road price of £37,795 is boosted to £41,765, which would be fine were it not for the fact that this figure is just above the £40k limit at which a supplementary luxury car tax becomes payable. This means on top of the Giulia’s regular annual car tax payment (or VED) of £145 a year from year two onwards you’ll need to fork out an extra £320 a year on top of that for the next five years.

But, in the interests of promoting our used car cause, my car is six months old and has 2500 miles on the clock. In fact, the Giulia was treated to a facelift in late 2019, with changes to the interior trim and the infotainment system, but my car is actually the older, superseded model. It’s worth £28,000 now, a useful saving on the new price.

And it needs that financial dividend – it’s up against some pretty stern opposition at this price level, in the shape of firm executive favourites like the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. Can it cut the mustard against them? Well, that's what the next four months are all about.

First impressions are definitely favourable. Drop into the classy-looking red leather sports seats and you’ll find an electrical adjustment that makes it easy to fine-tune a good driving position. You sit low, which adds to the sporty demeanour, and the dashboard and surrounding areas are pleasingly minimalist. This might not be finished like an Audi, but it’s an impressive interior nonetheless.

Alfa Romeo Giulia long-term

Push the starter button and it has to be said the diesel engine grumbles into life, but any doubts about the car’s refinement are dispelled at higher speeds where the overall noise levels seem much more in keeping with those of a plush executive car. 

But the standout feature has to be the steering. Geared quickly and pleasingly light at the helm, it requires minimal effort to negotiate any turn from low-speed roundabout to high-speed jink, and its response is always a delight. 

So I’m looking forward to our time together. It may well be that this modern Alfa Romeo Giulia has the same spirit as my old ones. I just hope it lasts a little longer than they did.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more on the used Alfa Romeo Giulia >

See more long-term test reports >

Also consider