The Alfa Romeo Giulia appeals to driving enthusiasts with its fun-to-drive chassis, sonorous powertrain, and drop-dead gorgeous styling. It’s designed to take on sports sedans such as the BMW 3-series, the Genesis G70, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class, and that hot-blooded Italian flair easily sets it apart from that more mundane crowd. A 280-hp turbocharged four-cylinder delivers plentiful power and the Giulia’s sharp handling will meet even the most aggressive driver’s expectations. While its interior design is less inspired than its boisterous exterior, the Giulia still offers an upscale experience complete with plentiful amenities and a driver-focused layout. Those looking for a more extreme sports sedan should instead consider the high-performance Quadrifoglio variant—reviewed separately—which swaps out the standard four-cylinder for a 505-hp twin-turbo V-6.
What’s New for 2021?
Alfa Romeo has trimmed the Giulia lineup from five to three trims for 2021, starting with the new entry-level Sprint model. The mid-range Ti and top-spec Ti Sport both receive new standard equipment. Both models now come with a panoramic sunroof and in-dash navigation; the Ti Sport also gains a standard limited-slip differential. A quartet of new colors—Ocra GT Junior, Rosso GTA, Rosso Villa d’Este, and Verde Montreal—are also new to the options sheet for 2021.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Giulia’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 280 horsepower, sounds intoxicating, and feels gutsy when driven hard. The Giulia pulls away from stoplights with zeal while singing soaring Italian arias. Our rear-wheel-drive test car’s 5.7-second zero-to-60-mph time and an all-wheel-drive model’s time of 5.5 seconds places the Giulia midpack in its segment in our acceleration testing; the Audi A4 did it in 5.2 seconds and the four-cylinder BMW 330i managed 5.4 seconds despite the fact that both cars have less horsepower than the Alfa. All Giulias come with a drive-mode selector with three unique settings: Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency—cleverly making the acronym DNA—each of which alters the car’s transmission, engine management, and steering feel. Agile and lively at all times, the Giulia is a driving enthusiast’s sports sedan. The front tires are very responsive to driver inputs and speak clearly to the driver through the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Body roll is well controlled, and in hard corners, the Giulia remains flat and predictable. It’s easy to drive quickly and aggressively, but it’s equally comfortable when driven sedately.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Among its turbocharged four-cylinder rivals, the Giulia has competitive fuel-efficiency numbers from the EPA, just shy of class-leading. Rear-wheel-drive models are rated at 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. All-wheel-drive models see a slight deficit at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, but that’s common in this class. In our real-world highway fuel-economy test, our rear-wheel-drive Ti test vehicle nearly delivered on its EPA number with a 32-mpg result.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the Giulia features soft-touch plastics, fine leather, and either textured metallic or genuine wood trimmings. It’s an elegantly styled cabin, with a wide, sweeping dashboard that acts as a visor to shade the integrated infotainment screen from the sun. The seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, especially the optional sport seats. Pack your sunnies, though: The Giulia’s sun visors are laughably small and ineffective when driving head-on into the sun. The Giulia managed to fit five of our carry-on cases inside its trunk; with its rear seats folded, it managed 14, lagging segment leaders by one carry-on. Giulia and Giulia Ti models have a split-folding rear seat that folds flat easily to expand cargo-hauling capability.