When Alfa Romeo announced it was introducing its first rear-wheel drive sedan since the 75 ended production in 1992, expectations were understandably high.
The 155, 156 and 159 models produced in the intervening years each had their strong suits and were infused with Alfa brio. Nevertheless, in this part of the market, rear-wheel drive is almost mandatory.
Fortunately for Alfa Romeo, its Giulia was met with almost universal critical acclaim upon its introduction in 2017. A few years have passed and there’s fresh competition, including a redesigned version of the BMW 3 Series, the car that set the template for this segment. So, how’s the Alfa holding up?
How much does the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce cost?
The Alfa Romeo Giulia range opens at $60,900 before on-road costs for the base model, simply called Giulia.
The Veloce featured here is priced at $72,900 before on-road costs, though Alfa is currently offering it for $72,900 drive-away.
It brings with it a more powerful version of the base Giulia’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Its price pits it directly against the BMW 330i and Mercedes-Benz C300, which also feature more powerful versions of their cheaper counterparts’ turbocharged fours.
Metallic paint adds an extra $1300, which includes the drop-dead gorgeous Misano Blue of our tester, a compelling alternative to Alfa’s signature red. If it’s too flashy for you, there’s a more subtle, navy shade called Montecarlo Blue.
Tri-coat paint options – Trofeo White and Competizione Red – cost $3500.
What do you get?
Though it costs an extra $7000 over the Giulia Super, it’s worth the premium. Besides a more powerful engine, the Veloce adds hardware like adaptive suspension and a limited-slip differential.
Visually, the Veloce is distinguished from lesser Giulias by its gloss black exterior trim and its larger 19-inch alloy wheels which resemble those of the Quadrifoglio. Inside, there are unique front sports seats, a different steering wheel, and aluminium interior trim.
Alfa Romeo offers a Veloce pack for the base Giulia that adds all of these features bar the limited-slip differential, while the adaptive suspension is a standalone option for the Giulia Super.
Like the Giulia Super, the Veloce comes standard with an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and satellite navigation, as well as heated seats front and rear, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and bi-xenon headlights with adaptive high beam and Alfa’s Adaptive Forward Lighting System.
As expected at this price point, there’s also a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, power front seats (eight-way for the driver, six-way for the passenger) and proximity entry with push-button start. An eight-speaker sound system is standard but a 14-speaker Harman Kardon system is optional.
Is the Alfa Romeo Giulia safe?
The Giulia has a five-star safety rating from ANCAP, based on testing from 2016. It received a score of 98 per cent for adult occupant protection, 81 per cent for child occupant protection, 69 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 60 per cent for safety assist.
All Giulias come standard with autonomous emergency braking with forward-collision warning. The system works at speeds between 7 and 200km/h, though it can only detect and brake for pedestrians at speeds under 50km/h.
There’s also lane-departure warning (but no lane-keeping assist), blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and front, front-side and curtain airbags.
What is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce like on the inside?
The Giulia’s interior is classy and well-constructed but there are some annoying foibles. Fortunately, it appears some of these issues will be resolved in the upcoming refresh, revealed late last year.
The sides of the centre console are upholstered in leather-look trim, softer than that used on the dash top. Unfortunately, the console itself is mostly covered with easily stained grey plastic.
The rotary dial that controls the infotainment system is one of the interior parts you touch the most but it’s plastic, feels cheap, and can be rocked on its base.
The cupholders are positioned at the base of the centre stack – likely to make room for the dial – and that means any 600ml bottle you put in them will block some of the switchgear.
Then there’s the compartment on the centre console, which has a softly-padded but ultimately flimsy-feeling lid that managed to jam the fingers of two of my friends. Its lid can also be rocked on its hinge and was already showing wear on the inside from when it wasn’t closing correctly.
The lid conceals a compartment that’s tiny, which underscores a significant flaw with the Giulia’s cabin – there’s simply not enough storage. The bottle holders in the doors are puny, the glove compartment houses the manual and little else, and there’s nowhere to put your sunglasses.
While these flaws are all bothersome, the Giulia’s interior excels in some areas. The metal paddle shifters are magnificent and are mounted to the steering column and not the wheel. The front seats, too, are wonderfully grippy once you step down into them – the Giulia feels lower-slung than many sedans.