Chicago Auto Show Blog

The Italian sedan hugs corners and turns heads with a dramatic design that stands out among the rest

Posted by: Jim OBrill

After a lengthy hiatus from North America, Alfa Romeo, now under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) umbrella, returned to the U.S. in 2015 with a small portfolio of vehicles. As a kid, I was always a fan of the unique design features of this Italian brand, most notably that prominent V-shaped grille. Until recently, I had only admired the current generation of the Alfa Romeo family while parked at auto shows. This past fall I headed up to GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan, for a second installment of the Midwest Automotive Media Association's Track School sponsored by FCA. I was assigned the sole 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia as my car for the day and couldn't wait for the chance to get behind the wheel. Shortly after spending time in the 2019 model, Alfa Romeo announced updates to both the 2020 Giulia & Stelvio which were recently showcased at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show.

Alfa-1

Just parked, this car makes a statement with its aggressively styled front end complimented by dark gray 5-hole aluminum wheels. The style is bold from the front quarter view, but more subtle from the back. It's one of those cars you'd see approaching in the rear-view mirror and immediately slow down so that it can pass you for a better look. From a styling perspective, the proportions are spot on. The wheelbase is stretched appropriately with minimum overhang in the front and rear. Windows seem taller than some of its competitors and provide overall smooth lines that soften the edgy looking front end. The design from the back is relatively simple -- in a good way. It's not over-stylized like other new models and is generally non-offensive.  Body gaps are tight and the integration of the exhaust system into the lower fascia of the bumper add to its premium feel. New metallic color options for 2020 include Anodized Blue, Lunare White, and Verde Visconti which add to the uniqueness of Alfa Romeo style. With competition such as the well-known Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Lexus IS, it was important for Alfa Romeo to design a car that stands out - and they did. Although, other new players in the category, such as the Genesis G70 and Volvo S60, continue to raise the bar and keep the well-known luxury brands on their toes.

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Stepping inside the Giulia, the overall feel is comfortable and familiar. New for 2020 are enhanced driver touchpoints including an all-new center console with a leather wrapped shifter, rotary dial, and wireless phone charger.  The materials are class-appropriate and come in a wide variety of optional two-tone colors, available in either woodgrain or carbon fiber materials. All Giulia's come with standard leather seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a well-positioned DNA Drive Mode selector and back-up camera with rear park sensors. Although, the aforementioned DNA Drive Modes will require the driver to do some light reading to understand the modes as they are atypical names compared to the more often used, Eco, Sport, Touring, etc. In Alfa Romeo, the modes are represented as Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency. All Giulia's also feature well-designed and placed aluminum paddle shifters on an updated leather wrapped steering wheel design. Gauges are easy to read, and the infotainment system is easy to get acclimated with on a new standard 8.8-inch touchscreen with improved graphics and a faster processor for 2020. Traditional controls are in place to adjust the climate and the Giulia also features an actual gear shifter compared to the trends for new vehicles to have electronic gear selection via button. The driver is positioned well inside the car and the visibility is good all around. One small quirk that you'll have to get used to is the push button start is placed on the bottom left of the steering wheel which I had to look for almost every time I got in.

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After quickly getting comfortable in the Giulia I had the opportunity to take this midsize luxury sedan on the track. All Giulia sedans feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, with available column mounted aluminum paddle shifters. This particular Giulia was the AWD version that came with the standard 2.0-liter four cylinder that generates 280 horsepower with 306 lb.-ft. of torque. This standard model will go 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and performed smoothly on the track. I immediately felt comfortable behind the wheel and maintaining throttle on the track was a breeze in the Giulia. Steering was smooth as we took corners around the track and tires remained planted on the pavement. Having minimized my driving time to the track only, I can only imagine that the Giulia would smoothly dodge the potholes of Chicago and slalom through construction cones during summer months. As I continued driving the track throughout the day, I was able to push the Giulia's performance with each lap.  As I reached higher speeds (excessive of highway speed limits) it was apparent that designers had performance in mind with this car. Cornering was tight and the car's ability to smoothly transition to braking or accelerating allowed for a very comfortable driving experience at all speeds. Steering was crisp and I always felt in complete control of this car rounding the corners of the track.

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In addition to the standard Giulia, there is also a Giulia Quadrifoglio model that further highlight's Alfa Romeo's motorsports expertise. The Quadrifoglio boasts a 505-horsepower, 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that is sure to impress drivers and passengers! It's also the most powerful Alfa Romeo production car with the quickest class-leading 3.8 second 0-60 mph time. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is available only as a rear wheel drive model and surprisingly doesn't differ much in styling from the standard Giulia. It may just be the ultimate modern day 'sleeper car' that no one would expect to launch from the stop light.

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Pricing for the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia start at $39,345 for the RWD model or $41,345 for the AWD model. At the other end of the range is the Giulia Quadrifoglio (RWD only) that starts at $74,445. There are seven different trim levels to choose from hence the $35,000 range in starting prices. Most models of the Giulia will land in the $45,000 range with the Quadrifoglio being the much-loved, but most expensive unicorn of the Giulia family.  Newly available for 2020 is an Advanced Driver Assistance Package that features level II autonomous driving capabilities which control acceleration, braking and steering. Other features of the package include:

  • Highway Assist System
  • Traffic Jam Assist System
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist
  • Driver Attention Alert
  • Standard Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus

The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia are arriving in dealership showrooms now along with its crossover sibling, the Stelvio. Similar to the Giulia, the 2020 Stelvio also received interior enhancement upgrades. On the exterior, the Stelvio also now includes a new body-color kit (standard on Sport models and above) which features painted wheel flares, lower rocker panels and rear fascia. Pricing for the 2020 Stelvio start at $41,345 and $80,445 for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia First Impression summary:

  • Exterior Style: That front grille will turn heads every time and intimidate the cars you approach.
  • Interior Style: Not overly complicated technology makes it easy for the driver to get in and drive.
  • Performance: Not the most powerful in the class (base model) but respectable and smooth handling on the track.
  • Track Worthy: Absolutely. A sleeper sedan that will surprise most by its capabilities.
  • Family Friendly: It has four doors and has decent room in the back suitable for a couple car seats. The kids will be asking to go faster.
  • Value: With a starting price under $40,000 the Giulia competes among the best in the class with a solid package and is worth taking for a test drive.

If you've wondered about these Italian-born vehicles you've seen on the road, I recommend you give them a drive. They're more affordable than you think and can be a lot of fun to drive. With unique styling touches and a name not many are familiar with, it's bound to be a conversation piece at the next gathering. Be on the lookout for more details on the just announced Giulia GTA limited run model with a 2.9 V6 Bi-Turbo engine with 540HP!

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