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Alfa Romeo is consistently on the cusp of greatness. Perennial talker, not so much walker.
Every few years, a new person heading up the brand in Australia trots out a script, that I for one, have heard multiple times.
‘This is a renaissance for a famous and storied brand, blah, blah, blah, motorsport heritage, blah, blah, blah, 5000 units per annum within five years, blah, blah, blah, our cars are reliable and don’t rust anymore, blah, blah, bloody blah.’
More than 500 Giulias have found homes locally this year, helping Alfa climb up off the canvas, and post a year-to-date sales number 36 per cent up on 2016.
Yes, that’s coming from a low base, but with the new Stelvio set to jump into the ever-growing pool of premium mid-size SUVs, and Giulia supply likely to flow more freely, 2018 has the potential to be even better.
So, should we push our crusty cynicism to one side, and dare to imagine Alfa Romeo has the product capable of genuinely setting it on an upward trajectory? Time to drive the Giulia Veloce and find out.
|Alfa Romeo Giulia 2018: (base)|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Hats off to the design team at Alfa Romeo’s Centro Stile. The Giulia is a superb looking machine that manages to combine smooth, gentle curves, echoing classics from the brand’s extensive back catalogue, with angry, angular elements that stand the car apart in any current automotive crowd.
Alfa says the Giulia’s ‘cab rear’ proportions are based purely on its chassis architecture, with short overhangs, a long bonnet and the front wings extended in parallel. The tear drop profile is said to be inspired by the Giulietta Sprint, a 1960s masterpiece, and one of the most beautifully resolved coupes to ever roll off a production line.
Large, elongated headlights and a signature shield-shaped grille create a dramatic and distinctive face, while the tail-lights pick up the same shape as those at the front, with a neatly integrated boot lid spoiler and big three-channel diffuser pointing to aero function also driving the Giulia’s racy form.
The car’s assertive stance, and our test Veloce’s rich ‘Monza Red’ paint, matched with dark grey 19-inch ‘5-Hole’ alloy rims made a stunning combination, to the point where just about every stop and exit of the car led to an impromptu kerbside conversation with an admiring onlooker.
The interior manages to pull off the same balancing act between heritage design cues and current tech to create a cool and inviting cabin environment, with intriguing design details everywhere.
A pair of pronounced cowls over the main instruments (which is actually a 7.0-inch colour TFT display), the tapering sweep of the dash, and lateral ribbing on the centre sections of the leather-trimmed seats shout Alfa heritage, while the 8.8-inch ‘Connect’ multimedia screen, ‘Rotary Pad’ controller, and sleek alloy paddle shifters for the eight-speed auto transmission are seamlessly integrated.
Eye appeal doesn’t always translate to practical aptitude (hello, Posh and Becks), but the Giulia has plenty to offer in terms of day-to-day usability.
Up front there are two decent-sized cupholders in the centre console, with two USB ports and a ‘line-in’ auxiliary socket beside them. There’s also a 12-volt outlet in the centre console box (with sliding armrest), but the door pockets are on the small side.
The first thing rear passengers will notice is the tight door aperture making it a struggle to get in and out of the back. And once you’re in there, headroom is modest.
Setting behind the driver’s seat, set for my 183cm position, legroom is good, but thanks in part to the optional ‘Dual pane Panoramic Sunroof’ ($2200) fitted to our test car, the rear roof-to-bonce ratio is poor.
On the plus side of the ledger, back seaters are supplied with adjustable air vents, a USB port, two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, net pockets on the front seat backs and (small) door bins.
Crack open the boot, and you’re presented with 480 litres of neatly trimmed cargo space; enough to swallow the CarsGuide pram or our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres), with relative ease. Flick the release handles at the top of the boot opening and the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat flips forward to more than double that capacity.
There are four tie-down hooks, a decent light, plus a cargo net, but don’t bother looking for a spare wheel; there isn’t one, not even a space-saver, because the tyres are run-flats.
If you’re keen on towing, maximum weight for a braked trailer is 1600kg, or 745kg without stoppers.
At $71,895, this Alfa is poking some large automotive luxury bears, in the shape of Audi (A4 2.0 TFSI quattro), BMW (330i M-Sport), Jaguar (XE 30t), Lexus (IS350 F Sport), and Mercedes-Benz (C 300). And in shelling out that amount, it’s fair to expect a generous batch of standard features to go with the Giulia Veloce’s stunning design.
The equipment list is indeed impressively long, including the 19-inch alloys, ‘Alfa Active Suspension’, the ‘Q2’ limited slip differential, leather trim, electrically-adjustable heated sports front seats (with memory), leather-trimmed (heated) sports steering wheel and shift knob, keyless entry and start, alloy faced sports pedals, the 8.8-inch colour display with navigation, the 7.0-inch colour TFT instrument display, a reversing camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors.
You can also expect active cruise control, 10-speaker 400w audio (with subwoofer and digital radio), the Alfa ‘DNA’ system (tuning engine, steering, suspension, brakes, gearbox and throttle settings), dual-zone climate control, auto headlights (with auto high-beam function), LED DRLs, rain-sensing wipers, privacy glass (rear side and rear windscreen), not to mention a swag of safety tech we’ll touch on in the safety section.
A strong value proposition for this part of the market, but there are some notable omissions, including, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, the headlights are humble bi-xenons while you might expect LEDs, and metallic paint is a $1300 option.
Option packs for audio (14-speaker, 900W harman/kardon 'Surround Sound') and anti-theft (ultra-sonic sensors and siren) are available.
The Giulia Veloce is powered by an all-alloy, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine producing 206kW at 5250rpm, and 400Nm at 2250rpm.
Drive goes to the rear wheels via a conventional (torque-converter) eight-speed automatic transmission, with wheel mounted paddles to take advantage of the manual shift mode.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 6.1L/100km, with 141g/km of C02 produced in the process. And you’ll need 58 litres of premium (95RON minimum) unleaded to fill the tank.
We recorded a dash-indicated figure of 9.8L/100km over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway running, and it’s worth noting the standard stop-start function worked subtly enough that the usual desire to turn it off never surfaced.
Alfa claims the Veloce will sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.7sec, which is properly quick, and for the record, maximum velocity is 240km/h.
With eight ratios available, and maximum torque (400Nm) arriving at just 2250rpm, mid-range acceleration is strong, not to mention hugely entertaining.
Alfa’s ‘DNA’ system offers three driving modes: ‘Dynamic’, ‘Natural’ and ‘All Weather', with the system adjusting everything from the steering and suspension, to gearshift settings and throttle response.
In Natural mode, despite 19-inch rims, and usually harsh run-flat rubber, ride comfort from the double wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension is impressive. Although the steering weight is light, road feel is good, and the top two ratios in the eight-speed ZF auto are overdriven for easy cruising.
The only snag is a less than perfectly progressive throttle, with an annoyingly jerky response at lower engine speeds.
Slip into Dynamic mode and the supportive front sports seats come into their own, although this tester found the backrest tight. Grip from the Pirelli P Zero rubber (225/40fr - 255/35rr) is tenacious, the active suspension instinctively tunes in to the more aggressive drive mode, and power down, courtesy of the standard ‘Q2’ limited slip diff, is emphatic.
A 50:50 front to rear weight distribution and the Giulia’s planted rear-wheel drive feel make the 1.5-tonne Veloce a pleasure to hustle over twisting backroads. Manual shifts via (alloy) wheel-mounted paddles are quick, and brake response, thanks to Alfa’s ‘Integrated Brake System’ (combining stability control and brake-by wire tech), is super rapid, yet progressive and consistent.
Cabin ergonomics are well thought through (love the wheel-mounted starter button!), the multimedia system is pleasingly intuitive to operate, and despite an agreeably raspy exhaust note, overall noise levels (even in Dynamic) are low. In short, the Giulia Veloce is a fun and refined drive.
3 years / 150,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Veloce is loaded with active safety technology including lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring (with rear cross-traffic alert), ABS, brake assist, auto emergency braking (AEB), ESC, forward collision warning, pedestrian recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, reversing camera (with dynamic gridlines), plus front and rear parking sensors.
And if all that isn’t enough to keep you out of trouble there are eight airbags on-board (front, front side-chest, front side-pelvis, and full-length side curtain). There are also three top tethers for child restraints across the rear seat, with ISOFIX anchor points on the two outer positions.
ANCAP hasn’t rated the Giulia, but it’s European affiliate, EuroNCAP, gave it a maximum five stars in 2016.
The Giulia Veloce is covered by Alfa Romeo’s standard three-year/150,000km warranty, with 24-hour roadside assistance provided for the duration.
Recommended service intervals are at 12 months/15,000km (whichever comes first), and Alfa’s capped-price servicing scheme locks in prices for the first five services as: $345, $645, $465, $1295, and $345; an average of $619, and a five-year total of $3095.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce exudes charisma, with distinctive looks and fine attention to detail in its design and execution. It’s a fun and refined drive, to boot. Is Alfa finally on the path to glory? Not yet, but this Giulia’s an impressive step in the right direction.
|(base)||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$37,300 – 48,290||2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2018 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|Quadrifoglio (qv)||2.9L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$82,600 – 104,500||2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2018 Quadrifoglio (qv) Pricing and Specs|
|Quadrifoglio Carbonio Edition||2.9L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$88,900 – 112,420||2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2018 Quadrifoglio Carbonio Edition Pricing and Specs|
|Super Diesel||2.1L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$36,000 – 46,640||2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2018 Super Diesel Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|