REVIEW | The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a worthy rival to German favourites
The Alfa Romeo Giulia was recently updated along with its Stelvio stablemate. We spent some time with the former vehicle. And you should too.
The moment you slide behind the wheel of the Giulia Veloce, you realise you’re in a special place. The driving position is absolutely perfect, even for us taller people. The electric seats offer a sporty design which are both functional and comfortable. The dashboard is sloped towards the driver, and the 8.8-inch touch screen infotainment system (which features Android Auto and Apple Car Play now) is beautifully incorporated into the dash. None of this “tablet-stuck-to-the-dash” malarkey.
The interior is a carefully designed space with small details such as the Italian flag below the gear stick. Ergonomically, the Giulia is magnificent. There is an angled compartment for your phone ahead of the armrest, which features a wireless charger, but also offers a clever way of plugging your phone into the USB port inside so there are no cables visible.
The steering wheel is a chunky leather-wrapped affair, with the start button incorporated beautifully. The big, manual gear shift paddles are static and located behind the wheel. Something that is somewhat annoying when you are used to having them on the steering wheel, but the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is a great example of a modern gearbox. Some jerkiness is evident at slow speed when Dynamic mode is selected in the DNA profile though.
The driving experience has been upped a notch compared to the Giulia Super variant the SA market had until now. The Veloce features a 206kW and 400Nm version of the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre, turbocharged-petrol engine, eclipsing the 147kW and 350Nm of the old Super.
Claimed acceleration from 0-100km/h is 5.7 seconds. That is brisk. Power is sent to the rear wheels and grip off the line is substantial. The new engine makes the excellent chassis of the Giulia shine even more than before. It features a 50/50 weight distribution split, which means extremely agile and confident handling. The steering is also extremely quick and communicative. Couple that with weight-saving measures like a carbon fibre propshaft, and you soon find the Giulia is an enthusiastic companion, prompting you to Google local mountain passes to explore.
It evokes something t very few other cars do these days, pandering to sense of joy in the driver. But that doesn’t mean it compromises on comfort. This dynamic ability is melded with an impressive adaptive suspension, making it an almost perfect daily driver. In addition, Giulia boasts all the bells and whistles that a modern motorist could want: dual zone climate control, adaptive cruise control (which works extremely well) with lane assist and accident avoidance features. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel are also standard along with automatic wipers and lights.
The styling is also supremely Alfa Romeo, with the curves and bulges in the right places. It looks aggressive with the 19-inch alloy wheels, but extremely classy at the same time. It catches peoples’ eye on the road, probably because there are so few of them on our roads in the sea of German sedans.
In my time with the Giulia Veloce, the more I drove it, the more things I could find to like about it. After a week behind the wheel, my fuel consumption averaged around the 9l/100km mark. I really did not want to hand back the keys.
If I had to nit-pick a bit, the rear passenger leg room is somewhat limited if the front occupants are on the taller side. The engine has very few exciting noises coming from it, with some exhaust noise plumbed into the audio system to make up for it.
Those minor gripes aside, it’s a very good car — and competitively priced at R989,900 — against a BMW 330i M Sport of similar specification.
Whether the SA market will buy it in substantial numbers is a question only time will answer, but I fear most people will miss out on this marvel.
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