2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Entry price: $38,295; As tested: $55,290

 This week we drive the 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Italian built sports performance sedan that lives up to its legacy in every driving category we threw at it. Equipped with a 280-horsepower turbocharged four, this Alfa delivers what auto connoisseurs have come to expect from the brand that has been building sports cars for decades.

To explain further, Fiat and Ferrari both played major roles in Alfa’s history, which dates back to 1910. Enzo Ferrari himself was an Alfa race driver, leaving Alfa to form his own Ferrari company. To make this history lesson short, it was Fiat that helped resurrected Alfa back to the U.S. market after leaving in 1995. It took until 2008 for Alfa Romeo to officially return with a low production coupe in concert with Fiat and soon to be corporate partner Chrysler.  

However, it wasn’t until the all-new Giulia arrived in 2017 that the motoring enthusiasts perked up. Since then Alfa Romeo has raised the bar and even rejoined the select group of manufacturers that compete on the worldwide 2019 Formula 1 campaign with a Sauber F1 partnership known as Alfa Romeo Racing.

So, things are looking up for this iconic carmaker, but not because of the Formula 1 endeavors or past history; it’s because everything these days centers on building a very good sports sedan. In this critical area, and regardless of its racing involvement or neat print and TV ads, Alfa Romeo has everything in order with its new Giulia.  

Built in Cassino, Italy, and available in six trims, the rear drive Giulia starts at $38,295 and then moves up to Giulia Sport ($39,745), Giulia Ti ($40,495), our tester Ti Lusso ($42,995) Ti Sport ($43,195) and a new for ’19 Ti Sport Carbon ($47,995). Your Alfa Romeo dealer awaits your visit to explain all Giulia trims in person.

Notable for those who seek the best is an ultra high-performance Giulia Quadrifoglio that features a Ferrari-designed 2.9-liter V6 that boasts 505-horsepower. It starts at $73,995 and joins sibling Alfa Romeo Spider two-seater that starts at $66,900. Add the SUV Stelvio to the mix at $40,295 entry, and Alfa has everything a modern day consumer desires. (We drive the Stelvio next week so stay tuned).

All Giulia models except the 505-horse model offer all-wheel-drive (AWD). Our tester featured the $2,500 Ti Lusso AWD package that adds, in addition to the four-wheel traction, 18-inch Lusso aluminum wheels on Continental Pro Contact SSR tires, luxury leather seating, power adjustable front seats, leather dash, upper doors and steering wheel, bright aluminum wheels and an air quality system. If you live in severe weather climates, this option is for you.

Arriving quite dapper looking, our Giulia featured an extra cost metallic paint ($600) that changes hues when the sun shines. The overall exterior design is clearly Alfa inspired, especially the distinct front grille that I recall while watching the many 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spiders compete at road races in the northeast.

Staying true to its history, today’s Giulia is in no way a cookie-cutter design, the latter something more prevalent these days when comparing the competition. Giulia offers a distinct energetic appearance with just the right amount of aerodynamic touches. Enhancing the motif and not surprising is the beauty and functionality of the Giulia interior, although we’ll get to a few nuisances that deserve note later.

Under the hood, a 2.0-liter inline-4 delivers 280-horepower and 306 lb. ft. of torque that allows zero to 60-mph acceleration in about 6.6 seconds. The power to the ground feeds through a great shifting eight-speed automatic, currently the only transmission available. No manual transmission exists in the U.S. market, although they are available in Europe. I wouldn’t hold my breath for the manual to arrive in the U.S., as the automatics are taking over thanks to better shifting abilities and even better fuel mileage. Our Giulia AWD delivers 23 city and 31 highway while the lighter weight rear drive delivers 24 city and 33 highway.

Most notable are the standard features that show up on even the entry Giulia. Included are Xenon headlights, remote keyless ignition, leather seating, dual-zone climate control, adjustable drive modes, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch central display, three USB ports, Brembo performance brakes, and an 8-speaker audio system with Android and Apple compatibility. The Giulia Sport upgrades from 17-inch to 18-inch wheels, and painted brake calipers.

Our Alfa arrived with two highly recommended options. A Driver Assistance Static option ($650) adds parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto-dimming exterior mirrors. Next, a Driver Assistance Dynamic Plus package ($1,500) features full-speed forward collision warning plus with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, automatic high beams, and an infrared windshield that reduces interior heat. Both are important safety oriented additions.

A Ti Performance package for $1,650 more adds active adaptive suspension dampers, limited-slip rear end and way too big, intrusive paddle shifters. These paddle shifters are one of the nuisances mentioned above, and get in the way of operating the left and right turn signals and windshield washer units. Why these paddle shifters are so big is beyond me. The other minor nuisance is the automatic shifter, which has a “which button should I push?” learning curve that once learned all is OK. The final retail for our tester came in at $55,290 with $1,295 delivery included.

It’s on the open road where the Alfa Giulia performs with the best of them. Thanks to the active independent suspension, great acceleration and Brembo quality brakes to slow everything down, Giulia is one of the best handling cars we’ve driven this year. There is also a selectable driving mode available including a Dynamic setting that tightens both the steering and suspension for optimal handling and grip.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 111-inches, 3,630 lb. curb weight, 15.3-gallon fuel tank, and a 35.5 ft. turn circle. Alfa has not released the trunk specs, but it is smaller, overall.

Likes: Excellent handling, overall looks, Alfa Romeo legacy, power.

Dislikes: Invasive paddle shifters, no manual transmission in U.S., small trunk.

 Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.