Lexus IS200t Luxury 2017 review
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the new Lexus IS200t Luxury with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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I could tell by the way my mother was staring at me across the kitchen that she thought I'd lost my mind. She just kept saying. over and over, "But you said never buy an Alfa...".
I had, many times. See, while Alfa Romeo has a legendary racing heritage, in more recent times it had picked up a reputation for quality issues and questionable reliability. But that was before the Giulia Super arrived.
It was time for Mum's million-year old German prestige sedan to go and for her to get something new. I was throwing the Giulia in the mix of cars to consider, alongside a BMW 320i or Mercedes-Benz C200.
My dad was already sold on it, but he's the romantic, and is known for coming home with boats we never use, fencing swords, and books on alpaca farming. Mum is different; rational.
Maybe the story of the Prince would work? Have you heard it? He wasn't actually a prince, his real name was Roberto Fedeli, and he was Ferrari's chief engineer. But he was so exceptionally talented he earned the nickname, The Prince.
In 2013, the head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne, could see Alfa was in major trouble so he hit pulled the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency lever, and called in The Prince. Fedeli said Alfa could be fixed – but it would need people and money. Eight hundred designers and engineers, plus five billion euros later, the Giulia was born.
The Super grade with the petrol engine tested here isn't the fastest or the most prestigious in the Giulia range. So, what's so great about it? And why on earth would I be suggesting it relative to such excellent offerings from BMW and Benz? Had I lost my mind?
|Alfa Romeo Giulia 2017: Super Petrol|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Giulia Super looks gorgeous. That long bonnet with the plunging V-grille and narrow headlights, the set-back cabin and upright windscreen, the chunky C-pillars and the short rear deck – it adds up to an emotional yet sensible looking beast.
There also seems to be more than a bit of BMW and Benz mirroring going on in that side profile, and the Giulia Super's dimensions nearly match the Germans, too. At 4643mm long it's 10mm shorter than the 320i and 43mm less than the C200; but at 1860mm across it's wider by 50mm than the BMW and Benz and shorter than both in height, by about 5mm.
The Giulia Super's cabin is elegant, plush and modern. The Super grade brings the leather stitched dash and the wood trim, plus the more premium leather upholstery in the seats. I love how the screen is set flush into the dash panelling and not just a tablet that sits on top like so many other cars. I also like small touches such as the start button on the steering wheel – just like a Ferrari.
I'd never opt for the light-coloured interior, regardless of how nice it looks. It started getting dirty with me just looking at it.
The Giulia is a four-door five-seater sedan with enough legroom in the back for (191cm tall) me to sit comfortably behind my own driving position, with room to spare. The optional sunroof fitted to our test car does reduce headroom, but at 480 litres the Giulia's boot is enormous and matches the cargo capacities of the 320i and C200.
Storage throughout is good with two cupholders up front and another pair in the fold down armrest in the back. There are small pockets in the doors and a decent sized centre console bin.
The four grade Giulia line-up kicks off at $59,895. The petrol version of the Super sits on the second rung in the range and lists for $64,195. That's just undercut by rivals such as the BMW 320i in 'Luxury Line' trim ($63,880) and Mercedes-Benz's C200 ($61,400).
The Giulia Super boasts a similar standard features list to the BMW and Benz. There's an 8.8-inch display with reversing camera, sat nav, eight-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, power adjustable heated front seats, active cruise control, bi-xenon headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
There's also an excellent suite of standard advanced safety equipment.
The Giulia Super we tested had the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. That's the same engine as the base-spec Giulia, with an identical output of 147kW of power and 330Nm of torque. Alfa Romeo says the Super, with its different throttle mapping, is half a second faster in the 0-100km/h sprint, with a time of 6.1 seconds. With more power and torque than the 320i and C200 the Super is more than a second faster to 100km/h.
If you want insane sledgehammer power there's the top-of-the-range Quadrifoglio with its 375kW twin-turbo V6
Now this isn't the most powerful four-cylinder engine in the line-up – the Veloce grade above the Super has a 206kW/400Nm version, but you'll need to pay more to step up to this level.
The Super's powerplant is absolutely going to make most of you happy, not just in off-the-mark acceleration, but in the way it works so well with this automatic transmission. The combination makes it feels as though the grunt is always there under your foot ready to use.
Alfa Romeo says the combined fuel economy of the Giulia Super is 6.0L/100km. In reality, after a week and 200km of country roads and urban commutes the trip computer was reporting 14.6L/100km, but I wasn't trying to save fuel at all, even if I did have the stop-start system activated at times.
The Super, while not a weapon like the Quadrifoglio, is an outstanding drive, too, and its rivals such as the BMW 320i and Benz C200 should be afraid.
The Super feels light, pointable, and agile. The suspension tune is excellent – a little too soft perhaps, but the ride is deliciously comfortable, yet the handling is impressive, too.
That engine note verges on hot-four territory when you boot it
The Super has three drive modes – 'Dynamic', 'Natural' and 'Advanced Efficiency'. I skip the efficiency setting and go to Natural for the city, and Dynamic if I'm on the open road (or in the city, and in a hurry) where the throttle response is sharpened and gears are held for longer.
Finally the steering – smooth, accurate, with great turn in.
Any niggles? This is an Alfa, right? Well, no. Only normal niggles, such as the reversing camera screen being too small, although the picture quality is excellent. The B-pillar is also close to the driver and does a good job of getting in the way of over-the-shoulder vision.
3 years / 150,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Giulia has not been tested by ANCAP, but its European equivalent EuroNCAP gave it the maximum five-star rating. Along with eight airbags there's an impressive amount of standard advanced safety equipment, including AEB (which works at up to 65km/h), blind spot and rear-cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning.
There are three top tethers and two ISOFIX points in the back row.
Servicing is recommended annually or every 15,000km, and is capped at $345 for the first service, $645 for the second visit, $465 for the next, $1295 for the fourth and back to $345 for the fifth.
The Giulia Super is excellent in almost every way – ride and handling, engine and transmission, looks, practicality, safety. The price is a smidge higher than rivals, but the value is still great.
Nobody who loves cars wants Alfa Romeo to become an extinct species, and over the years many Alfas have been hailed as 'the one' which will save the Italian brand from going down the plug hole.
Is the Giulia the comeback car? I think it is. The money and resources put into developing this new car and its platform, properly, from the road up, has produced an outstanding result. The Giulia, and the Super specifically, offers a great driving experience, in a prestige package, at a good price.
|(base)||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$32,500 – 42,570||2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2017 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Quadrifoglio (qv)||2.9L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$73,000 – 92,290||2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2017 Quadrifoglio (qv) Pricing and Specs|
|Super Diesel||2.1L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$30,800 – 40,370||2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2017 Super Diesel Pricing and Specs|
|Super Petrol||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$34,200 – 44,220||2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2017 Super Petrol Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||9|
|Engine & trans||9|