Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) posh, upscale Alfa Romeo division welcomes back a prestigious name from its storied past.
The Giulia (with a pronunciation identical to the ladylike first name 'Julia') name returns to the U.S. in the 2017 model year as a four-door premium sedan with Italian flair. The name originally appeared in Alfa Romeo's lineup from 1962 to 1978. Alfa Romeo was founded in Milan, Italy back in 1910. A half-dozen Alfa Romeo dealers now dot Chicagoland at the dawn of 2018.
Consider the 2017 Giulia faire 'Italian light' as light-weight aluminum forms doors, side fenders and vehicle sub-frames while carbon fiber materials make up the hood, roof and sporty trunk-mounted rear spoiler. Lighter-weight structure helps Giulia achieve the much-desired 50/50 front-back weight distribution enhancing handling and performance. The lightweight structure combines with the most powerful engine to date in an Alfa Romeo delivering plenty of zero-to 60 thrills (all in less than 3.8 seconds).
While Alfa Romeo classifies Giulia a mid-size, dimensions skew to the smaller end of the spectrum. Alfa Romeo offers both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive opportunities in Giulia.
Three trim levels are available: Giulia, Giulia Ti and top-shelf Quadrifoglio.
Alfa Romeo offered a top-trim edition for a week's drive, a 2017 Quadrifoglio with standard rear-wheel drive powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 cranking out an impressive 505 horsepower. The engine mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It's the most powerful Alfa ever built. A traditional manual transmission is not on the docket; at least for now, but responsive paddle shifters provide a thrill creeping ever-so-close to a pure manual.
The rather crowed steering column region is home to the two long skinny aluminum paddle shifters for manually up-and-down shifting of the eight forward gears (sans a foot clutch). Gently flick the right-side paddle to up shift while the left-paddle down shifts.
More times than not, paddle shifters remain a novelty, not a process that excites especially in mainstream eco models. Giulia smashes this myth thanks to generous horsepower numbers and responsive engine tuning. It's the most fun one can generate in a four-door sedan with paddle-shift technology.
Giulia is also offered with a four-cylinder powertrain. Only the four-cylinder is available with optional all-wheel drive (an extra $2,000). A 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbo cranks out 280 horsepower and is standard in Giulia and Giulia Ti and also connects with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Both
engines require premium unleaded gas. Underpinnings derive from an all-new light-weight 'Giorgio' platform.
Rounding out the 2017 Alfa Romeo lineup: the shapely two-door 4C sports coupe and flip-top counterpart, the 4C spider convertible along with the five-door Stelvio mid-size crossover. Giulia tops the list as Alfa Romeo's best seller, clocking in 8,903 sales in the 2017 calendar year, outpacing Stelvio (2,721) and the 4C (407).
Pricing started at $72,000 for a rear-drive Quadrifoglio. Options add quickly to the bottom line with a $2,200 clear coat white paint, $2,750 carbon fiber racing seats, $1,500 dynamic plus package with radar-sensing cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high beams, $8,000 high-performance Brembo brake system, $900 premium sound system, $400 carbon fiber steering wheel and $500 Pirelli brand 19-inch tires for a $89,845 bottom line with $1,595 destination charge. A base four-cylinder Giulio sedan starts at $37,995 while the Giulia Ti (Turismo Internazionale) checks in at $39,995 (and adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, wood interior accents, heated front seats, heated steering wheel).
Look to the three-spoke steering wheel for the circular push-button electric start. It's hued in red, and located below the 9 o'clock spoke. The top dashboard contorts like a wave crest reaching its apex near the Instrument panel region while flowing downstream to the front passenger's side. Two circular air vents paint the dashboard corners while vertical vents adorn the center.
Most Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (jeeps, Ram trucks, Fiats, Dodge, Chryslers) include welcome station pre-set and volume toggle buttons behind the steering wheel face, summoned by waiting finger tips. It's one of the best secondary-volume tab designs from any automaker. The Italian-built Giulio passed on implementing this design during its return, but it's something worth considering during future next-generation redo's.
Instead, Giulia depends upon on two remote dials and two quick-select buttons located between the low-slung front buckets to communicate with the non-touch 8.8-inch in-dash information screen (a 6.5-inch variety comes standard in four-cylinder models). Dual temperature dials below the dashboard summon two temperature zones while push buttons in between support fan direction and speed.
Drivers experience a rather low to the ground sport's car type driving position when compared to conventional, higher-volume mid-size sedans. Standard and form-fitting leather seats slide manually with the pull of an under-seat grab loop, although power-driven seats are usually the norm in upscale choices.
Subtle exterior nuances include a quad chrome exhaust in Quadrifoglio trims (a dual design in four-cylinder models). In front, a large tri-angular mid-evil jousting-like shield center piece dominates. A green four-leaf clover (quadrifoglio translates to four-leaf in Italian) adorns both front fenders, a nod to Alfa Romeo racing superstitions dating back a century. Strap-like door handles adorn all four doors, illuminating at night.
2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio
Price as tested: $89,845
Engine: 2.9-liter twin turbo V-6
Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Overall Length: 182.6 inches
Overall height: 56.1 inches
Overall width: 73.7 inches
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Four years/50,000 miles
Assembly: Cassino, Italy