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View all Alfa Romeo Giulia reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Pair of efficient and punchy diesels
  • Tepid and hot petrol options, too
  • Quadrifoglio model is the full vindaloo

The engine options for the Alfa Romeo Giulia include a pair of efficient diesels, a 2.0-litre petrol with two outputs, and a fire-breathing 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol in the Quadrifoglio performance model. There’s no manual gearbox at all for UK cars, however.

All use an eight-speed automatic gearbox that switches its gears quickly and smoothly without ever getting caught out between ratios. We appreciated the shift paddles too – they’re located on the steering column rather than the wheel, just like a Ferrari…

Every car gets Alfa’s DNA drive mode switch as well. This allows you to adjust throttle response between Dynamic (sharper), Normal (default) and Advanced Efficiency (duller for better fuel economy). This rotary switch is conveniently positioned by the gearlever and easy to use without having to look down.

Pragmatic diesel engine

The sole diesel engine is an all-new aluminium 2.1-litre (but badged 2.2), four-cylinder unit with 150hp and 380Nm of torque or 180hp and 450Nm depending on your requirements. Both produce peak torque at 1,750rpm, while the 180hp version gets maximum power at 3,750rpm, instead of 4,000rpm in the 150hp.

Alfa Romeo Giulia driving

The 150hp accelerates from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds while the higher-powered car takes 7.1 seconds - we’ve currently only driven the more powerful of these engines and can confirm it’s smooth enough, but considering how recently it was developed we were surprised how noisy it is.

Preferable petrol engines

While most UK buyers will plump for the diesel, we preferred the 2.0-litre, 200hp petrol engine. It’s keen to rev, sounds more interesting and it’s smoother and better to drive. This develops peak power at 4,500rpm while 330Nm of torque comes at 1,750rpm.

The obvious penalty will be on fuel economy, but if you’re doing lots of short journeys and not many miles per year then you might be surprised how level the playing field is once you’ve factored in the car’s purchase price.

There’s also a 280hp version of this engine, which boasts 400Nm of torque. The delivery is higher up the rev range though – at 5,250 and 2,250rpm respectively. Even so, it’s predictably a faster motor, with 0-62mph taking 5.7 seconds instead of the 200hp car’s 6.6.

We think this version gives you a real flavour of the faster Quadrifoglio, particularly in Veloce Ti trim, which even looks like the faster car. The engine and gearbox are quick to react, the latter especially when you make use of the excellent column-mounted shifter paddles.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

By far the fastest version of the Giulia is the awkwardly named Quadrifoglio model; Italian for Cloverleaf. This is powered by a Ferrari-derived twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine developing 510hp and 600Nm of torque at 6,500rpm and 2,500rpm.

That’s enough for a 0-62mph dash in 3.9 seconds and an unlimited top speed of 191mph, roundly beating all of its rivals.

It’s also eight-speed auto only, but it’s a specially calibrated gearbox. It works as well as you’d expect, rifling through the gears with ferocity.

Alfa Romeo Giulia driving

This is a monstrously quick car with a distinctly non-turbocharged feel, thanks to the exciting rush to the redline we’d expect to experience in a naturally aspirated engine.

It also makes a fabulous noise via its quad tailpipes, although you have to set it to Race mode to get the full effect of this.

Handling

  • Class-leading handling from the Giulia
  • Few other cars as engaging or approachable
  • Quadrifoglio is a different league

This is one area where the Giulia shines. It’s a very balanced car with a huge amount of grip and steering that lets you know lots about what is happening under the front wheels.

It’s rear-wheel drive like all its rivals bar the Audi A4, and that’s one reason it’s so rewarding to drive. Turn the steering wheel and you’ll be surprised at first by how responsive it is – it doesn’t take much of a twist for the front wheels to follow suit - but after a minute or two you learn to anticipate it and then you’ll fall in love.

The suspension offers a brilliant blend of compliance and cornering performance. Unlike most new cars we drive, there’s no adaptive damping (even as an option) on the non-Quadrifoglio car. It’s simply set up properly.

It’s for this reason that the Giulia is class-leading in terms of engaging handling.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio handling

The performance version of Alfa’s saloon gets further handling enhancements, with a torque-vectoring system on the rear axle that uses a pair of clutches to control how much of the engine’s output is sent to either side of the car. The effect is to improve traction when approaching the limits of the tyres’ adhesion for a more controllable character when driving quickly.

Other extras on this hot Alfa Romeo include a Race mode for the DNA switch that adjusts the rear differential and stability control systems for high-performance driving, optional bucket seats to keep you hemmed in and carbon-ceramic brakes for optimum stopping power.