As season five draws to a dramatic close, we take a look at the progress made
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Wait, there’s more to the new Alfa Romeo Giulia than 503bhp? Of course there is. The Quadrifoglio is just the sharpened tip of the iceberg. They won’t sell many of hot one, but will use it as a halo product to ensnare buyers into the lesser diesels and petrol. So what does the full line-up consist of? There are three others to choose from – one petrol (a 2.0-litre turbo with 197bhp and 243lb ft) and a 2.2-litre diesel with either 148 or 178bhp. All are brand spanking new all-aluminium engines, the petrol featuring MultiAir electro-hydraulic valve actuators while the diesel has Multijet injection which operates at 2,000 bar, plus a variable geometry turbo and a balancer shaft.
No mention of hybrid or electric? Nothing whatsoever at the moment. I’m sure it’ll come, but for the time being Alfa needs to concentrate on the bread and butter models, especially, for European buyers, the diesel. Conveniently, apart from the Quadroifoglio, that was the only version available. And only in one trim, the range-topping 178bhp motor, which boasts 332lb ft at 1750rpm. Provided you opt for the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Why’s that? Because it can handle more torque than the manual, which is limited to 280lb ft and means the auto is the faster car (0-62mph in 7.1secs instead of 7.4secs). Alfa hasn’t released full economy and emissions figures for all models yet, but the basic stats are 67.3mpg and 109g/km. These are figures that compare well to, say, a BMW 320d (187bhp, 295lb ft, 0-62mph in 7.2secs, 67.3mpg, 116g/km). What we’ll have to see is if it stacks up so well in real life. Any reason to suppose it won’t? Not really. The ZF eight speed automatic gearbox is as well integrated here as it is in the in the Quadrifoglio, has the same tactile paddles, and drives with similar dexterity. Like its hotter sibling, this diesel feels slightly softer than we’re used from German execs, and once again, this is no bad thing. It moves easily and confidently and as an everyday car, seems to have few foibles. The engine feels capable of delivering the claimed acceleration, but it does get a bit strained over the last 1,000rpm or so, so you find yourself shifting at 3,500rpm, which is fine because there’s loads of torque on offer. How’s life inside? Not bad on the whole – the same spot-on driving position and clean layout as the fast version, and similarly fine seats. However, in the hot one you’re more willing to make allowances in certain areas because it’s a more exciting car and places more of the emphasis on the driving. However, this one needs to deliver everywhere, and it hasn’t got 503bhp of shock and awe to offset the weaker elements. Once again, these are related to interior quality. Taken by itself it’s more than acceptable, but hop between this and an Audi A4 and you’ll feel the difference. The Alfa may be shot through with style, but it’s not as solid or exceptionally executed as the best German alternatives. Likewise the infotainment system. It’s logical to use, which is great, but the screen resolution isn’t exceptional and the connectivity and integration isn’t as polished. Alfa has done brilliantly to get it to where it is, but to catch up with the Germans in every area was too big an ask. But it drives as well? I think it does. It’s sporty and pleasing to punt around. It grips hard and is engaging enough to hold your interest, which is more than can be said of an A4. I know most buyers will actually be business leasers and their criteria will be more cost-orientated, plus it remains to be seen how lease companies will view an Alfa Romeo and its potential residuals, but I think Alfa has done all it can to make this car appealing. It’s also focused on safety. A number of safety systems - Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Brake, pedestrian recognition, active braking – are standard on all models. What about pricing? As with the Quadrifoglio, there’s no word on that yet, but if it was more than a few hundred pounds away from what you pay for a BMW 320d Sport (£29,490) or Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190 Ultra auto (£30,765), I’d be surprised. It goes on sale in the UK (and over 100 other markets around the globe) this September. If nothing else it’ll be extra temptation on the company car lists. Pictures: Richard Pardon