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BMW 3 Series


Alfa Romeo Giulia

Summary

BMW 3 Series

Is the 330e the best of both worlds?

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), it’s a part-time electric car for the city and a full-time sports sedan for everywhere else.

Sound familiar? BMW’s been down this path before, back with 2012’s ‘ActiveHybrid 3’ and then its first 330e-badged successor four years after.

Both were based on the previous F30 3 Series shape. However, this year’s all-new G20 iteration improves the breed with a bigger boot, up to 50 per cent better range and brawnier performance.  

The thing is, it shares showrooms with the 330i and M340i xDrive, which represent a powerful return-to-form for the 3 Series.

So, the question isn’t so much ‘Is the 330e a good enough PHEV?’ more so than ‘Is the PHEV worthy of the BMW badge?’ Let’s find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency2.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo was poised to rock the established mid-size luxury sedan segment back in 2017 when it launched the Giulia, firing a direct salvo at the big Germans.

Combining drop-dead gorgeous looks with peppy performance was the name of the game for the Giulia, but after arriving with much hype and fanfare, Alfa Romeo doesn’t seem to have conquested as many sales as they had originally hoped.

So far this year, Alfa Romeo has sold just 142 Giulias, well behind the segment leading Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, but a new mid-life update hopes to revitalise interest in the Italian sedan.

The refreshed line-up brings in more standard equipment and sharper pricing, but has Alfa done enough to sway you out of a tried and trusted German sports sedan?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.9L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

BMW 3 Series9/10

You know about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, right?

Well, its themes of too little or too much apply for buyers of an eco-focused luxury sports sedan. If a hybrid like the Lexus IS 300h isn’t electrified enough, and a pure EV such as the Tesla Model 3 is going too far, then a PHEV like the 330e plugs the gap just about perfectly.   

Yes, prices are high (and especially so with a few choice options), boot capacity is on the low side for a 4.7-metre long sedan and that lusty four-pot turbo is sonically no match for a turbine-smooth BMW inline six as per the M340i, but the 330e does most of the expected things well and some of the ones you might not exceptionally.

Pay the price and you can have your cake and eat it too.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7.9/10

This is the Giulia Alfa Romeo should have launched back in 2017.

Especially stacked up against its German rivals, the new Giulia is not only more attractive to the eye, but also the hip pocket.

The boost in standard equipment and safety gear is a huge boon for potential Alfa buyers, while no compromises are found in the Giulia’s fun-to-drive nature and peppy engine.

Its weakest aspect might be its average three-year warranty, but if you are looking for a new premium mid-size sedan that stands out from the crowd without any major concessions, the Giulia should be on your watch list.

Design

BMW 3 Series

Remember when BMW 3 Series were compact three-box sedans that looked like nothing else? Today’s version seems so close in size to a 5 Series that only an anorak can instantly tell them apart. In fact, at a glance, differentiating the current G20 from the old F30 generation isn’t so easy, either.

It’s no surprise, then, to learn that both the 3- and 5 Series share the company’s scalable, light but super-strong ‘Cluster Architecture’. Imbued with a large-car feel, the 330e is elegant in silhouette and handsomely detailed, its imposing stance highlighted by the M Sport lowered suspension (by 10mm) and bi-colour five-prong double-spoke 19-inch alloys and (optional) Laser-light LEDs.

Flying under the radar for an eco-warrior, there is nothing other than two ‘filler’ flaps to give the PHEV game away externally. It’s all business as usual.

The same cool insouciance permeates our 3 Series’ leather-laden and metallic-accented cabin, that is now properly spacious for four adults. It still retains the signature-BMW driver-centric dashboard angle, but the style certainly isn’t retro, with twin large digital displays and a myriad of personalisation and vehicle configuration choices underlining the 330e’s modernity.

Aided by plenty of eco incentives to go PHEV, in Europe, BMW expects the 330e to be the best selling version; that said, given the inherent conservatism of premium medium sedan buyers globally, there is virtually nothing about this model’s overall execution that is too futuristic, intimidating or oddball.


Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10

Park a brand-new 2020 Giulia next to its predecessor, and you’ll find they look identical from the outside.

It would be a bit unfair to call this update a ‘facelift’, but we’re glad Alfa Romeo hasn’t messed with the sharp styling of its Giulia sedan.

Having been on sale in Australia since early 2017, the Giulia doesn’t look like it has aged a day. In fact, we reckon it has gotten a bit better with age, especially in its top-spec Quadrifoglio trim.

With a triangular front grille and the number plate offset to side, the Giulia looks unique relative to anything else on the road, and we appreciate its distinctive styling.

The angular headlights also add to the Giulia’s aggressive and sporty stance, even in its base Sport trim, while the 19-inch wheels help fill the arches and give a sense of a more expensive car.

The handsome look continues to the rear, with the sculpted derriere looking taught and tight like a well-tailored pair of suit pants rather than some ill-fitting, off-the-shelf trousers.

However, we will point out the black plastic on the underside of the bumper on our base Giulia Sport, which looks a tad cheap with only a single exhaust outlet on the left, and a sea of… nothing.

Stepping up to the more expensive (and more potent) Veloce or Quadrifoglio remedies this however, with a proper diffuser and dual and quad outlets respectively.

The Giulia certainly stands out amongst the sea of Mercedes, BMW and Audi models in the executive sedan segment, and proves that doing your own thing can be hugely satisfying.

Combine the stylish exterior with more colour options – like the new 'Visconti Green' – and you can really make your Giulia pop, though we do wish our test car was finished in a more exciting hue.

With this Vesuvio Grey option, the Giulia blends in a bit too closely to the greys, blacks, whites and silvers you usually see on premium mid-size sedans, but all colours aside from white and red attract a $1355 premium.

Inside, much of the interior carries over as before, but Alfa Romeo has moved things a little more upmarket thanks to a few small touches that add up to a big difference.

The centre console area, while not being redesigned, has been given more of a premium makeover thanks to a carbon-fibre-like trim with aluminium and gloss-black highlights.

The shifter, especially, feels great thanks to the dimpled leather design, while other touch points such as the multimedia control, drive select and volume knobs also deliver a weightier, more substantial sensation.

Aside from that, the Giulia retains its premium cabin materials, soft-touch multi-function leather steering wheel and mixed material finish for an elegant and sophisticated interior worthy of a premium European model.

Our test car was kitted out with the standard black interior, but more adventurous buyers can opt for tan or red – the latter of which would definitely be our pick.

Practicality

BMW 3 Series

For a swoopy sports sedan, the 330e’s interior is pleasingly practical and – after a little familiarisation – user-friendly. As the biggest-ever 3 Series, four average-sized adults can fit in easily, while a smaller fifth person can crowd in on the rear-centre cushion. For short periods, anyway.

One surprise is the lightness of the doors due to them being partly aluminium, which means while they close with a reassuring thud, they’re might feel flimsy at first.

No such misconceptions await once inside the cocoon-quiet cabin, thanks to solid and lush materials everywhere the eye lands and hands touch. Even the plastics seem expensive.

As the 3 Series is famous for, the 330e’s dash is driver-centric, with ample adjustability of the fat-rimmed wheel and unimpeded reach for most of the important switchgear. Sat low and cosily ensconced between door and bisecting centre console, the mood is definitely grand-touring sports sedan.

For this generation, BMW has honed the once-controversial 'iDrive' controller into an artful yet logical example of on-the-move multimedia interface and data retrieval, with a concerted effort to simplify what is a mountain of available information.

Of course, familiarisation is essential, but even a short tuition will open up a world of configuration and customisation of every single facet of the car – chassis, powertrain, climate control, audio, communication and media being the main platforms. Sounds intimidating but isn’t.

To help relax (or energise), there’s even a ‘Caring Car’ feature in the sub menus with appropriately chilled ambient lighting, audio and climate control.

Indeed, the Germans have made strides in improving the perceived quality and functionality in other areas of the latest 3 Series, such as the gear lever operation, thoughtful storage and effortlessly effective ventilation.

However, the digital instrumentation has ignored decades of classy analogue style for a messy computerised multi-view layout that is just too Space Invaders.

Sure, it’s multi-configurable and includes a less-cluttered basic screen, but where’s the sophistication and beauty here? Notice to carmakers: would you wear a watch this ugly?

Moving to the back seat, the optional sunroof might eat into rear headroom, and really long-legged travellers need to ensure the front-seat occupants are as far forward as comfortably possible, but otherwise it’s the same story of well-sculptured cushions and backrests, set within a business-class style environment.

Twin USB-C ports, a 12V outlet and temperature controls are a bonus, hungry door pockets can take a large drink bottle and the essential cupholders are set within the centre armrest.

The only giveaway that this 3 Series is hauling extra electrification is inside the boot. Somewhat shallower than the regular 480-litre item, a higher floor than usual cuts that by 105L to 375L.

But at least the battery doesn’t intrude to the point where you can’t use the cabin load-through with the tri-sected backrests folded down (via a handy lever if you’re standing behind the vehicle). A through-loading system is part of the standard 40/20/40 split-fold backrest.

The floor itself is stepped half way, but if you require a flat surface, it can be lifted to even out the area. And remember, there is no spare wheel – just tyres that can be driven ‘flat’ as required to drive you to the nearest garage.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Measuring 4643mm long, 1860mm wide, 1436mm tall, and with a 2820mm wheelbase, the Giulia offers plenty of room for passengers, front and rear.

The sports front seats are an especially pleasant place to be; tight-hugging, well-bolstered and super supportive, meaning no fatigue even after extended driving trips.

Storage solutions though, are somewhat limited.

The door pockets won’t accommodate a bottle of any size thanks to the armrest design, while the two centre cupholders are positioned as such that a bottle will block climate controls.

A generous storage cubby can be found under the centre armrest though, and the wireless charger design lays your device almost vertically in a separate compartment so you won’t scratch your screen.

Glove box size is standard, but the owner’s manual does eat into room a little, while driver’s also have access to another small cubby to the right of the steering wheel.

At least Alfa now includes a handy key fob holder to the left of the shifter? Though this feature becomes redundant with keyless entry and push-button start meaning you more likely just to leave the keys in your pocket.

The rear seats offer plenty of head-, leg- and shoulder-space for passengers in the outboard seats, even when the front seat is set to my 183cm (6'0") frame, but the door pockets are, again, disappointingly small.

I fit adequately in the middle seat, but wouldn’t want to be there for any extended period of time due to the transmission tunnel eating into the footwell.

Rear passengers have access to a fold-down armrest with cupholders, dual air vents and a single USB port.

Opening the boot of the Giulia reveals enough space to swallow 480 litres, matching the 3 Series’ volume and outclassing the C-Class (425L) and A4 (460L).

This is enough for one large and one small suitcase, with a bit of room in the sides for smaller items, while four luggage tie-down points are located  on the floor.

The boot also features latches to fold down the rear seats, but given they aren’t spring loaded, you still need to push them down with something long or walk around to the rear seats to flip them over.

Alfa Romeo has not revealed volume with the seats folded down, but we noticed the aperture into the cabin is noticeably narrow and quite shallow.

Price and features

BMW 3 Series

It’s clear that electrification will become the norm in the not-too-distant future, from hybrids combining internal combustion engines (ICE) with electric motors and batteries, to the full battery electric vehicle (EV) and eventually hydrogen EV experience.

Somewhere along that spectrum, and nestled between the 320i (from $68,900) and 330i (from $74,900), is the 330e.

Arriving from Germany in either racy M Sport or dreary Luxury grades from $81,900 (before on-road costs), it features an electric motor and battery pack for up to 60km of pure EV propulsion, before a four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine kicks in for in excess of 1800km between refills, officially. Range anxiety be damned.

Mind you, the similarly-engined 320i but minus the electrification is almost 300kg lighter. Blame all that extra electrification swag like an 83kW synchronous motor, 10.3kWh lithium ion battery and a five-metre 1.8kW charging cable.

Being a PHEV means it needs up to six hours to recharge from a regular 10-amp household plug, down to a minimum of around 3.5 hours from a larger power source.

In contrast, a non-plug-in, series-parallel hybrid like the Lexus IS 300h barely manages 2.0km of sub-40km/h-only EV range, before its ICE takes over to replenish a much-smaller battery pack, and relegate the electric motor to mere performance and/or economy boosters only. That’s why the Lexus is some $20,000 cheaper.

This leaves the Mercedes-Benz C300e and Volvo S60 T8 Hybrid from $82,300 and $84,990 respectively as the BMW’s only true equals, as they’re PHEVs, too.

Though both promise slightly less EV range than the 330e, the former is comfort-biased while the latter is a bit of a Swedish hot-rod, blitzing all for sheer oomph while scoring all-wheel drive into the bargain.

Note, however, that from $75,425 (before tax and on-road costs) will buy you the mouthful Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus RWD (rear-wheel drive). As a pure EV, the Yank has kicked the ICE habit with a silent and furious need for speed. 

Not that our 330e M Sport Package isn’t hot to trot, with its M Sport-enhanced suspension, brakes, aero body kit, 19-inch alloys shod with run-flat tyres (so no spare wheel), steering wheel, Alcantara/Sensonic vinyl upholstery and ‘Shadow Line’ gloss-grey trimmings. Menacing.  

The BMW’s list of goodies is barely good enough for a sedan that’s over $90K drive-away. You’ll find adaptive dampers that switch seamlessly from firm to soft depending on how stiff/supple you want the ride to be, auto entry/start, stop/start, heated/folding/dipping mirrors, two USB and a single 12V ports, tri-zone climate control, electrically adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory, three-year subscription-based in-car emergency and concierge services, Apple CarPlay (but still not Android Auto at the time of publishing), 12.3-inch digital instrumentation with head-up display, a 10.25-inch central screen, satellite navigation, extended Bluetooth connectivity, an unreliable ‘Hey, BMW’ voice-activation system, digital radio, 205W amplifier audio, a 32GB hard drive, wireless smartphone charger and a personalisation function in the key saving all your preferred settings.

On the safety and security front there’s also autonomous emergency braking (AEB), warnings and active assistance/intervention for steering, lane-change, lane-departure and front/rear cross-traffic (with braking) situations, full-auto parking with surround-view 3D cameras and sensors, adaptive cruise control with full stop/go, auto high-beam LED headlights with delay/off, rain-sensing wipers, low-speed EV-mode acoustic warnings for pedestrians and localised recharging info including range radius. Handy.

Still, a sunroof is optional, as are our car’s trick 'Laser-light' active/adaptive LEDs, ambient cabin lighting, motion-sensor electric bootlid, seat and steering wheel heaters, galvanised trim, and other goodies, amounting to over $10,000. All blow out pricing towards $100K. Ouch.

At least you can pre-set the climate control in your 330e via a BMW app. Cool!


Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10

The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia has been trimmed down from four variants to just three, kicking off with the $63,950 Sport.

The mid-tier Veloce will set buyers back $71,450, while the top-spec Quadrifoglio is $138,950 – both of which have been reduced by $1450 and $6950, respectively.

Though the point-of-entry is higher than before, the newly introduced Sport grade is actually based on the old Super grade with the Veloce pack added in, actually saving buyers a bit of money compared to be before.

As such, privacy glass, red brake calipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, and sports seats and steering wheel are now standard across the range, and all items that you’d expect in a premium and sporty European sedan.

You'll also score heating for the front seats and steering wheel, which are you wouldn't normally see on any price-leading variant, making these features especially noticeable.

Also standard in the Sport is bi-xenon headlights, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and aluminium pedals and dashboard elements.

Handling multimedia duties is an 8.8-inch screen, though this year the system gains touch functionality to make Android Auto and Apple CarPlay use a little more intuitive.

A wireless smartphone charger is also now standard across the line-up, which will stop your phone’s charge at 90 per cent as to not overheat/degrade your device’s battery.

As tested here, our Giulia Sport is priced at $68,260 thanks to the inclusion of the 'Lusso Pack' ($2955) and 'Vesuvio Grey' metallic paint ($1355).

The Lusso Pack adds active suspension, premium Harman Kardon sound system and interior ambient lighting, while a dual-pane panoramic sunroof can also be optioned for an extra $2255.

Overall, the Giulia is much better value than it was before thanks to its improved equipment levels, especially when stacked up against base versions of its rivals.

Engine & trans

BMW 3 Series

BMW’s modular (B48) 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine delivers 135kW of power and 300Nm of torque, and drives the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic. The latter is regarded as one of the best transmissions of its type in production today.

That transmission also houses the 83kW/105Nm synchronous motor, while the 10.3kWh battery pack is located underneath the back seat. Total outputs are 185kW/420Nm.

Each power source works together to create a smooth and quiet EV experience up to a published 60km, before the 2.0-litre takes over the main driving function, but powering down again when coasting or under very light throttle, to help eke out maximum mileage between refills.

There are three modes to choose from ­– 'Sport', 'Hybrid' and 'Electric' – with the latter allowing for pure EV driving as long as the batteries are juiced up enough; otherwise the default Hybrid setting kicks in, where both propulsion options are used to maximum efficiency.

Back in Electric mode, in Battery Control mode, the driver can pre-select a minimum battery charge level for use later on where conditions are better-suited to EV driving – such as in downtown.    

There’s also a so-called ‘XtraBoost’ function, providing up to 30kW of extra power (topping out at 215kW) for short periods, and is accompanied by a fake/enhanced exhaust note. It’s a bit of a scorcher, actually, revving hungrily to the redline and reeling in the horizon like a proper BMW should.

Don't go searching for an evocative in-line six-cylinder soundtrack, however. Instead, there's simply a zingy metallic snarl as the tacho swings swiftly upwards. S mode loves holding on to each gear ratio, aided by a thoughtfully placed set of paddle shifters.

Overall, the 3 Series PHEV is surprisingly rapid – clearing the 100km/h marker needs just 5.9 seconds – but subjectively actually feels even faster. BMW limits the 330e's EV top speed to 140km/h, or 230km/h in dinosaur-fuel mode.    


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Powering the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport is a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine tuned to deliver 147kW at 5000rpm and 330Nm from 1750rpm.

Mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and driving the rear wheels, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport is claimed to accelerate from 0-100km in 6.6 seconds, while top speed is capped at 230km/h.

Though those outputs might not seem like much in 2020, the driver-focused, rear-drive layout and brisk acceleration time are more than a match for its petrol-powered German counterparts.

Buyers wanting a bit more performance can also opt for the Veloce grade that takes the 2.0-litre engine to 206kW/400Nm, while the Quadrifoglio uses a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 good for 375kW/600Nm.

Fuel consumption

BMW 3 Series

On the flipside, BMW reckons over 1800km is possible, thanks to the official combined figure of only 2.2 litres per 100km. That’s outstanding range, especially considering the fuel tank is a teeny 40 litres.

Maybe it was the addictive allure of all that XtraBoost oomph, or perhaps it’s the porky 1740kg throwing its weight around, but we could not better 6.3L/100km during our week with the Bavarian wunderkind.  

BMW recommends either premium unleaded (95 RON plus) or E10 ethanol, so no standard stuff, please.

Meanwhile, in EV mode, less than 40km is the real-world range, and that can drop dramatically with amenities running like the AC. The EU electricity consumption figure is 15.4kW/h/100km, which is reasonable for the 330e’s size and weight.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Officially, the Alfa Romeo Giulia will sip 6.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, but our weekend with the car yielded a much higher 9.4L/100km figure.

Test driving consisted of navigating the tight inner-city streets of Melbourne’s north, as well as a short blast up the freeway to find some twisty country B-roads, so your mileage may vary.

Worth noting the Giulia Sport sips Premium 95 RON petrol, making it a little more expensive to fill up at the bowser.

Driving

BMW 3 Series

The good news is that the 330e is designed for built-up and urban environments, since it benefits from a quiet electric motor to whoosh you along almost silently and always serenely for up to that 60km official range. Acceleration is instant, punchy and remains strong as speeds quickly rise, making the BMW ideal for darting in and out of traffic gaps.

In the real world, with the climate-control switched on and other drains on the car, that drops to under 40km, though that can often be more than enough for most commutes. If there’s access to a normal 10a socket, the BMW will be fully charged to get you back home in fewer than six hours.

Of course, the beauty of a PHEV is that the main form of motivation is a brilliantly muscular and responsive BMW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which really gives the 330e wings as a fast and fluent open-road grand tourer. It just laps the miles up.

Still, running on petrol, the Bavarian is as impressive around town, too, since there’s a hefty lump of low-down torque on tap for prompt throttle responses. The superb eight-speed torque-converter auto provides an almost supernatural ability to select the right ratio at the right time, and in a most harmonious manner too.

Perhaps this is a one-off blip in our test car, but a concerning powertrain jolt was discernible from somewhere in the transmission at step-off, as if the 330e is struggling to reconcile electric and petrol power seamlessly.  

Every aspect of the BMW PHEV’s powertrain and chassis – engine, transmission, steering and suspension – can be altered from a cushy softness to a muscular firmness, according to the mood of the driver (or passengers).

Although never heavy, there is substance to the steering even at slower speeds, and the upshot is an engaging and involving experience. Switching to Sport intensifies everything, for an edgier, more athletic experience.

Great for keener folk seeking the 3 Series’ enthusiast’s machine reputation. That said, the turning circle is tight for easy manoeuvrability, while the auto parking feature helps getting the sedan into tighter spots, and generally works reliably.

Adaptive dampers do a great job in helping to smother out most of the bumps and ruts of suburbia’s roads, though larger speed humps can expose the limits of available suspension travel as well as ground clearance (147mm).

Out on the open road, the steering is a boon, working with the taut chassis for sharp handling and balanced roadholding. Displaying towering levels of roadholding, the 330e simply remains glued to the road, even at speed.

One small observation is that the 330e lacks a mechanical limited slip differential, so there isn’t quite the surgical handling crispness that elevates the latest 330i into the dynamic stratosphere.

That, plus the extra mass of the PHEV, do dull the steering’s sharpness and BMW’s overall agility slightly. Never stodgy, just not supernaturally athletic. That’s the price you pay for parsimony.

Finally, in the sportier settings, with the stability and traction controls’ hold loosened, the tail can be made to swing out, meaning the driver must remain alert and ready to reel it all back into place.

This isn’t as much a flaw as a playful aspect of the 330e’s very broad dynamic bandwidth. There’s something for everyone.


Alfa Romeo Giulia8/10

Like all respected sports sedans, the Alfa Romeo Giulia features a front-engine, rear-drive layout to entice the those who would rather drive than be driven.

The exterior styling of the Giulia certainly promises a sharp, entertaining steer, while the interior touch points do nothing to take away from that potential.

Guide yourself into the snug bucket seat, wrap your hands around the wonderfully sized steering wheel and you will notice that Alfa has built the Giulia for the driver.

The steering wheel is an especially nice touch point and features oversized paddle shifters mounted on the steering column – not wheel – making it nearly impossible to miss a shift even when midway through a corner.

For those that like to use the shifter though, the up/down gear selection is arranged in the preferred back/forwards position respectively.

The adaptive dampers in our test car can also be stiffened up independently of the drive mode selected. 

Speaking of which, three driving modes are on offer – 'Dynamic', 'Natural' and 'Advanced Efficiency' (DNA in Alfa-speak) – which change the feel of the car from hardcore to more eco-focused.

With suspension able to be changed on the fly, drivers can have the softest setting on for the bumpy, tram track-laden inner-city Melbourne streets, with the engine in full attack mode to get away from the lights for a cheeky overtake.

It's also a plus that the suspension can be changed from the press of a button on the centre console, instead of usually diving into a whole bunch of complicated menus to tweak and fine-tune certain elements.

Underpinning the Giulia is double wishbone front suspension and rear multi-link set-up, which helps keep things communicative and exciting from the driver’s seat.

Don’t get us wrong, you won’t be ripping drifts or breaking traction in the dry in a Giulia Sport, but the 147kW/330Nm engine offers enough pep to make driving fun.

Push hard into a corner and you will get tyre squeal, but luckily the steering feels sharp and direct, meaning its easy and fun to hunt for apexes even when keeping things under the posted speed limit.

The multimedia system in the Giulia is much improved with the touchscreen functionality to make Android Auto feel a bit more natural, but the 8.8-inch screen does look quite small when buried in the dashboard.

The rotary controller is also better, although the software is still a little fiddly and unintuitive to navigate from page to page, a bugbear likely remedied with more time in the car.

Safety

BMW 3 Series

As part of the G20 3 Series line-up, the 330e achieved a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating in October, 2019.

There basically isn’t an active or passive safety item left unticked in this grade, meaning AEB (operational from 5km/h to 210km/h), stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, cornering brake control and brake-assist, active lane-change and lane-departure warnings and intervention, front and rear cross-traffic alert with braking and blind-spot monitoring.

Eight airbags are fitted – front and side airbags for driver and front passenger and head airbags for all outboard seat occupants.

There’s also adaptive cruise control with full stop/go functionality, as well as a low-speed EV-mode acoustic warning for pedestrians and cyclists to get out of the way. That’s set to about 20km/h.

BMW fits a pair of ISOFIX points for the outboard back seat positions, as well as top tethers for strap-fastened child seats.


Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10

Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sedan was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating from ANCAP in May 2018, with testing based on a left-hand-drive model from 2016 in Euro NCAP examinations.

In the adult occupant and child occupant protection tests, the Giulia scored 98 and 81 per cent respectively, dropping points for just ‘adequate’ chest protection of children in the frontal offset test.

As for pedestrian protection, the Giulia notched a 69 per cent score, while the safety assist assessment yielded a 60 per cent result.

However, since that test, Alfa Romeo has added lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and automatic high beam as standard, which were previously optional.

Also included at no extra cost on the 2020 Giulia is driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition, with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, automatic headlights and wipers, hill-start assist, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring, and a reversing camera with rear parking sensors carrying over.

According to ANCAP assessment, the Giulia’s AEB functions from 10km/h and works up to 80km/h to help drives mitigate an accident.

But the Giulia misses out on rear cross-traffic alert and an automatic emergency call function.

Ownership

BMW 3 Series

BMW’s warranty is one of the worst in the business. Its meagre three years/unlimited kilometres matches Audi’s Scrooge-y efforts but is two-years shy of arch nemesis Mercedes-Benz.

The 330e’s servicing is condition-based, depending on how it’s driven and other factors, with a dash warning appearing to let the driver/owner know when it’s time. In the UK, a two-year/30,000km interval is advised, if that helps.

No capped-price servicing regime is offered, but the 'BMW Service Inclusive Basic' packages cover scheduled servicing from three years/40,000km to five years/80,000km, and start from $1350.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Like all new Alfa Romeo vehicles, the Giulia comes with a three-year/150,000km warranty, matching the assurance period of BMW and Audi models, though the Germans offer unlimited mileage.

However, Alfa Romeo lags behind the premium industry leaders, Genesis and Mercedes-Benz, who both offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, while Lexus offers four-year/100,000km cover.

Service intervals on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The first service will set owners back $345, the second $645, the third $465, the fourth $1065 and the fifth $345, totalling $2865 for five years of ownership.