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Used test: Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Volvo S60

By choosing used, you can make a huge saving off the price of either of these stylish executive cars. But is it the Giulia or S60 that gets our vote?...

Used test Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Volvo S60 front cornering

The contenders

Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 Turbo 280 Veloce

List price when new £39,690
Price today £17,000*
Available from 2016-present

The Giulia Veloce may live in the super-fast Quadrifoglio version's shadow, but it still packs a mighty punch

Volvo S60 T5 R-Design Edition

List price when new £37,935
Price today £17,000*
Available from 2016-present

Being the V60 estate car's saloon sibling, is the S60 as comfy and luxurious inside as that model? 

*Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Ask us what the best used executive car is and we won't point you to the Alfa Romeo Giulia or Volvo S60 – stick with us. No, the best is the BMW 3 Series, our reigning What Car? Used Car of the Year

However, a car can objectively rank above its competition yet still fail to catch the eye. Now, that's not to say the 3 Series is such a case, but there'll be buyers out there who simply aren't interested in it – or it's a been-there-done-that type of scenario. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia rear cornering

So, for those people, the Giulia and S60 might appear more appealing, whether it be for the former's Italian exuberance or the latter's Swedish suavity. Plus, while they rank below the 3 Series in our books, they remain great cars with a lot to offer.

They look even more tempting when you look at used prices: either model can be had for around £17,000 at six years old.


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Although our duo use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine each, the Giulia's is noticeably more powerful, producing 276bhp next to the S60's 247bhp. The Giulia also benefits from being rear-wheel drive, meaning good traction as soon as you get on the accelerator. The S60 is front-wheel drive, hence it can't transfer its power to the road quite as effectively. 

The short of it is this: the Giulia managed 0-60mph in 5.3sec during testing – quicker than a 325bhp Honda Civic Type R hot hatch. The S60 managed the sprint in 6.9sec, which is very respectable by general standards but slightly underwhelming if you're after thrilling performance from your posh saloon car.

Volvo S60 rear cornering

All S60 R Design models come with firm sports suspension as standard from new. What's more, this Edition variant pairs that with 19in wheels. On the other side, our Giulia was fitted with adaptive suspension (part of the £1950 Performance Pack) from new and is on standard 18in wheels.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the Giulia offers up a comfortable, compliant ride, while the S60 has a rather turbulent (but just about tolerable) one when the road isn't perfectly smooth.  

Alfa Romeo Giulia front cornering

This is usually the part where we tell you that the firm suspension comes in handy in the corners, and it does to a certain degree – body lean is better kept in check than with other, softer S60 variants – but overall handling remains average at best. It has decent grip and composure in the bends, sure, but comparatively numb steering and lacklustre agility means you never feel the desire to drive spiritedly and enjoy a twisty road. 

The Giulia is the opposite, coming alive when faced with a set of corners. Its steering is razor sharp, its body lean even more minimal and its overall balance wonderfully engaging. It's a fun car to drive, putting a similar smile on your face to the one a sports car can produce.

Volvo S60 front cornering

At a motorway cruise, the pair are similarly hushed, with the Giulia whipping up a bit more wind noise and the S60 a bit more road noise. 

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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