2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super diesel Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Diesel Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Gorgeous looking Giulia Super sees Alfa make a return to the world of family sedans.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super diesel
Price $65,895+ORC Warranty three years, 150,000km Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 132kW at 3750rpm Torque 450Nm at 1750rpm Drive rear-wheel drive Dimensions 4643mm (L) 1860mm (W) 1436mm (H) 2820mm (WB) Weight 1410kg Boot Space 480L Spare run-flat tyres Fuel Tank 52L Thirst 4.2L/100km
THE ALFA ROMEO Giulia arrived in 2016 marking Alfa’s return to the compact premium sedan segment, a segment it hadn’t properly played in since the Alfa 75 was binned in 1992. Sure, there were other Alfa Romeo sedans after it, my uncle owned a 159, but these were all front-wheel drive vehicles, although the 159 could be had as all-wheel drive. So, the arrival of the rear-wheel drive Giulia is incredibly important for Alfa Romeo and FCA, allowing it to wildcard entry into the premium compact segment alongside others, like the Jaguar XE.
The Giulia went on-sale here in February last year but while PM has driven a handful of different models, including the Super at its international launch, this is the first time we’ve spent any considerable time in one. And while it’s hi-po sibling, the QV, gets all the attention, it’s the entry-level Giulia, Giulia Super and Giulia Veloce that will do all the selling.
What is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super?
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Super is the brand’s first rear-wheel drive sedan since the demise of the Alfa 75 in the early 1990s. Based on the brand’s new Giorgio platform which is, like other modular platforms, designed to be shortened and stretched for different applications, Alfa says the Giulia marks the brand’s renaissance. So, just a little bit of weight on Giulia’s shoulders then.
There are four variants in the Giulia line-up: Giulia; Giulia Super; Giulia Veloce; and Giulia Quadrifoglio. The pricing starts at $59,895+ORC for the Giuiia and stretches to $143,900+ORC for the range-topping QV. Our test car, the Giulia Super Diesel lists at $65,895+ORC; its petrol sibling costs $64,195+ORC. Diesel is only available in the Super variant. All Giulia variants benefit from highly competitive levels of standard equipment, including leather upholstery, alloy wheels, bi-Xenon headlamps, keyless go, stop/start technology, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
Alfa said it was keen to make the Giulia a ‘driver’s’ car and so pursued the coveted 50:50 weight distribution and made heavy-handed use of stronger, light-weight steel as well as composite materials. For instance, the driveshaft on all variants is made from carbon-fibre.
What’s the interior like?
The Giulia Super is a good-looking machine with enough Alfa cues to satisfy the fans (anyone spot the hints of 1950s Giulietta Sprint) and the sort of clean lines that will catch the eye of new buyers. But, ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so we’ll park any discussion of the exterior.
When it comes the interior, none of my words will come close to the description Alfa’s PR team crafted to describe the driving position… Settle back: “The driver’s position was ‘cut’ as a fabric with a diagonal tunnel, a slightly undulated dashboard and cleverly oriented instruments which convey the impression of a tailor-made suit with hand- crafted care and premium materials”. Okay.
But, Alfa’s right, the interior/dashboard is all focussed on the driver with the dash tilted slightly towards the right-hand side of the car. It makes for a very comfortable driving position, in that all the controls are aimed at the driver and within easy reach. Alfa’s also right in suggesting a design-led approach to the look and feel of the interior and the Giulia’s interior stands out from those in the segment that are rather more conservative and practical in their design but beauty will only get you so far…
Beyond admiring the cabin, it’s when it comes down to the fit and finish and using the controls that the niggles begin. For instance, it could just be the car I was testing, or it could be something others have experienced but the infotainment screen which was beautifully designed to flow with the twist of the dash had a kink in it at the top of the screen. And the screen itself seems to be set very low from an ergonomic point of view (but the matte glass front looks stunning), making it tricky to use on the fly as your eye is drawn away from the road for so long. More than this, the graphical quality of the infotainment itself is a bit poor. And, having to use the rotary controller to access the system adds further frustration.
Then there were other bits of trim, like the a-pillar cover that hung loose (although who knows whether journos borrowing the car before me hadn’t hoped to find issue by pulling at bits of trim until they, well, became loose), and the footrest that, when you placed your foot on it, impinged on the use of the brake, well, at least it did for me.
The round dials for the climate control and infotainment controller look beautiful but they feel a little, cheap is the wrong word, but not quite as premium as you might expect, to the touch. That said, the wood veneer trim and extra smattering of leather lift the cabin to feel on-par with similarly priced competitors, like the BMW 320D ($65,800+ORC) and Jaguar XE ($62,900-$64,400+ORC).
Sat behind the wheel, and the Giulia feels like a sporting sedan. The driving position is low-slung but comfortable with the seat hugging you just enough and in all the right places too. With the door open, you drop down into the seats, although there’s plenty of adjustment, both up and down, forwards and backwards (eight-way power adjustable). The steering wheel feels great in the hands and there’s good vision all around the car. There’s reasonable storage space in the cabin with a decent-sized glovebox and centre armrest storage; you’ll get a 500ml water bottle into the door bins.
Climb into the back and the door openings aren’t huge so taller passengers will need to duck but once inside there’s decent elbow, shoulder and legroom with good wriggle room for your feet. For me, there was enough head space but the sloping roofline means taller passengers might feel a little too closed in. You’ll fit two adults across the back as the middle seat is designed more as a perch with leg and foot room limited to what you can share with those either side of you. And the seat lacks the shape of the two outboard seats, too. There are rear air vents for those in the back which is great and ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats a power outlet and mesh packets on the backs of the front seats for storing a tablet.
The boot offers 480-litres which matches, give or take a litre or two, the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series but the shape is not consistent so the boot isn’t quite as practical, if you’re carrying large square things, as key rivals. What marks it ahead of its rivals is the fact it offers, as standard, a 40:20:40 split-fold rear seat.
What’s it like to drive?
Under the bonnet of our test car was a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine (pub fact: it’s the first Alfa diesel to be built from aluminium) which pumps out 132kW and 450Nm of torque at 1750rpm, but 90% of it torque runs from 1400rpm to 3000rpm giving you a nice beefy, on-paper, mid-range. It’ll get to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds and it drinks a claimed, combined 4.2L/100km… and, to put this into perspective, that’s less fuel than the Toyota Camry Hybrid we recently tested.
Mated to the diesel engine is a new eight-speed automatic which is mated to Alfa’s drive selector, called Alfa DNA which offers various drive modes, including Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency. My apologies but I didn’t sample Advanced Efficiency, but I did fiddle with both Dynamic and Natural. Indeed, I ran the Giulia Super twice around the Practical Motoring test loop, once in one setting and the next in the other.
Okay, let’s discuss the engine… it’s a ripper. And it’s extremely quiet, so quiet I thought someone had got my car booking wrong and given me a petrol Super instead. You barely need any throttle to move the Giulia Super along and the gearbox shifts cleanly and quickly and, unlike some of this car’s rival’s transmissions, doesn’t automatically want to get to the highest gear possible for fuel saving. Rather it reads throttle input and speed and holds the gear it thinks you need.
The throttle itself is nice and progressive in its action, allowing you to balance progress even when creeping in slow moving traffic, but the brake pedal, on the other hand, is quite wooden in its feel and grabby in its action, taking some getting used to before you learn to lighten your touch.
Out onto our test loop which covers a mixture of smooth highway, fast corners, tight corners and some dirt along with one of the worst sections of surfaced roads you’ll find anywhere (Ed: unfortunately, a recent run on our loop in a Subaru BRZ tS – review coming soon – revealed the resurfacing of this section of road). The Alfa Giulia Super misses out on the fancy adaptive dynamics of the Veloce and QV variants, but the suspension tune is excellent, blending enough comfort with absolute body control and driver connection.
The more you lean on the Giulia, the more it gives back and the suspension does an excellent job of dialling out the worst of the road without taking away from its sporting control. This is a driver’s car. Even the light, direct steering is perfectly suited to the front-end bite when tucking into corners. I think that if the steering were heavier the car might come off feeling disconnected.
The mid-corner balance is excellent (this isn’t a vehicle that’s going to try and pitch you off the road when driven enthusiastically thanks, in part to its neutral set-up and 50:50 weight balance), and there’s bucket loads of grip with an engine and transmission that, as I said earlier, are in perfect harmony, working with the driver to make the Giulia the most enjoyable car in its class. It’s not all good news, there’s a bit of wind and tyre noise but underbody insulation is good, as our drive across the dirt section of our loop revealed.
What about safety features?
The Alfa Romero Giulia scored 98% in protection for adult occupants in EuroNCAP testing, the highest score ever for a car. Thus, it gets a five-star EuroNCAP rating, eight airbags, reversing camera with dynamic guide lines, traction and stability controls, rain brake (which when the wipers are activated periodically lightly applies the brakes to keep them dry).
All Giulia variants also get the brands complete active safety suite, with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) and pedestrian recognition – it can stop the car completely at speeds up to 65km/h, Integrated Brake System (IBS), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). The Guilia Super gets blind spot monitoring with rear cross path function and can detect obstacles at up to 60 metres.
What about ownership issues?
The Giulia gets a three-year, 150,000km warranty with service intervals set at 12 months or 15,000km. The run-flat tyres won’t suit all buyers. We didn’t experience any issues with the car we tested in the week we had it but a quick whip around of some forums revealed owners, mostly in the US, complaining about software issues, like sunroofs that wouldn’t close and infotainment systems that needed a hard restart to come back.
New cars are complicated beasts, so, we’d appreciate anyone who owns a Giulia dropping us a line and letting us know how their car is going.
So, what do we think?
The Giulia is a typical Alfa Romeo in that it’s loaded down with character. See, it’s not perfect, the interior, despite looking gorgeous has too much cheap plastic and the door openings are quite small. But then you take the first corner and all is forgotten… this thing rides and handles better than its key competitors with an engine and transmission that work beautifully together.