Alfa Romeo Giulia Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Sunday 24th September
Sound the fanfare, it's a rear-drive Alfa that's rather good indeed. Updated tech helps too

Good stuff

Good-looking, damn fine to drive, it’s not an Audi blah-blah

Bad stuff

Still sub-German standard, not the most spacious, no BIK-dodging hybrid


What is it?

The first Alfa you want to buy in a long time. The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the Italian brand’s answer to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Jaguar XE – a mid-size saloon with a rear-wheel drive platform that also underpins the Stelvio SUV.

Former parent company FCA (since swallowed whole by Stellantis) invested billions in it in a quest to take Alfa from sales of 75,000 to 400,000 annually within three years. That... didn’t happen. But it's certainly not because the Giulia is a sub-standard bit of kit. To drive, it's actually one of the best normal-ish cars money can buy.

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How come?

Dynamically, Alfa has smashed it out the park on its first attempt. No matter the spec, the Giulia has an inherent feeling of a proper driver’s car. The seating position is superb, steering fantastically quick (making it nimble, almost like it has rear-wheel steering) and it has superb balance and a more playful edge than its competitors.

Looks good too. No scratch that, it looks sublime. Has done since it was launched in 2015 and still does after its latest refresh in 2023. The aggression ramps up as you go through the range but there’s a lovely neat and very animated face on all of them, while the side forms are simple and organic. As you’d expect, the V6-powered Quadrifoglio - worthy of its own review if you follow this here link - is an angry beast, but even in lower trims the Giulia still sits on its wheels fantastically well. It is an Alfa after all.

It’s also quite light. The doors, wings, engines and bits of the braking and suspension systems are all made of aluminium, and the driveshaft is carbon fibre. The quick one takes things even further, with a carbon bonnet, carbon roof, carbon spoilers and splitters and ceramic discs. The weight-split of all versions is 50/50 (it is rear-drive, remember). Alfa also seems especially proud of the Giulia’s suspension and steering setup, with a double wishbone up front and a four-arm layout for the rear axle that makes it ride incredibly well. A lot better than you’d expect from a car with this short of a development gestation period, that’s for sure.

You mentioned engines. Details please.

Previously, there was an engine flavour for every occasion: two petrols, two diesels and the Quadrifoglio’s super-hot and quite special V6. But that was then. Now the lesser petrol has been dropped, as have the diesels. The V6 survives, though.

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That makes it a simple game, numbers-wise. For the standard 2.0-litre you’re looking at 277bhp and 295lb ft, amounting to 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 149mph. Healthy figures. The Quadrifoglio is even healthier: 503bhp and half as much torque again; 3.9s and 191mph. Yowza. Claimed fuel economy is 38.2 and 28mpg, respectively..

Nice. What trims can I have?

You’ve got Sprint, Veloce and Competizione, plus the rip-snorting Quadrifoglio. Prices begin at £43,259 and top out at £75,204. Yep, two-oh-four. Us neither.

For that cash, you get quite a bit of tech, particularly in the Quadrifoglio. Torque vectoring, and some kind of braking system that uses a traditional servo alongside the stability control to apparently improve responses. All cars get the normal collision warning, pedestrian detecting, and autonomous braking kit you could ever need.

Poring over the materials in the Quadrifoglio’s cabin serves up a plate of confusion as there are some wonderful elements: the big metal paddles on the steering column that move with wonderful solidity, exposed carbon trim (on the top model) and classy green and white contrast stitching. But then there are the basic, uninspiring and slightly shoddy parts; the heating controls, the column stalks, and the way the seatbelt tap-tap-taps on the B-pillar if there's no passenger sitting alongside the driver.

Interested to know what this car is like over a longer period of time? And let’s be honest, whether or not it’ll break within months? Read our long term review to find out.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

The Alfa Romeo Giulia's got real character and dynamism that makes us car types smile

The Giulia, no matter how it’s powered, is a very good looking and capable small sports saloon from Alfa. It’s the first compelling rival to the Germans from Alfa in over a decade. It’s got real character and dynamism that makes us car types smile. Yes, there are some idiosyncrasies, and it'll cost more per month than the usual German suspects, but it’s an Alfa, so what were you expecting? Such is the price of swimming against the tide.

If you’re looking for a left-field choice to the normal Merc, Bee Em and Audi, this is genuinely tempting. And updates to the interior and tech mean it's now slightly easier for your heart to talk your head into signing on the dotted line.

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