Giulia

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2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Test Drive Review

The Giulia is more performance than luxury, but still delivers a premium feel and recently updated tech.

7.7 /10
Overall Score

In the realm of performance luxury sedans, some options err on the side of comfort with a hint of hard-driving, while others check enough luxury boxes, but are decidedly performance sedans. The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia is firmly in the latter camp. It has an attractive cabin with a number of creature comforts, but its true strength is its fun-to-drive, corner-carving nature.

The Giulia was introduced for the 2017 model year. For 2021, it gains a couple of new standard features in the top-tier trims but is largely carried over from the 2020 model, which gained an updated infotainment system. The Giulia offers a lineup of trim levels and powertrain options. All are enjoyable performance machines that break the norm from the luxury sedan status quo.

Look and Feel

9/ 10

The Giulia has the styling of a performance sedan. It boasts a long hood and a short rear deck. The rear pillar and door frame finish off right above the rear wheel, giving it that visual presence of strength. The Alfa Romeo grille is a mixed bag. For some, it conjures up the brand’s long heritage in motorsport. For others, it looks like the grille from an Edsel. The cabin design is far less polarizing and presents like what you’d expect from a performance-luxury sedan. With the starter button on the steering wheel and drive mode control and shifter prominently featured in the center console, you quickly know what this car is all about before you ever drive it.

Trims for the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia are Sprint, Ti, Ti Sport, and high-performance Quadrifoglio. The Sprint trim comes with leather upholstery, remote start, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. It also comes standard with an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Moving up to the Ti adds a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and front parking sensors. The Giulia Ti Sport gains some unique exterior design elements, a limited-slip rear differential, and a sport steering wheel.

The top-tier trim is the Quadrifoglio. It also features upgraded aerodynamic bodywork, a carbon-fiber roof, Brembo brakes, and the most potent engine available in a Giulia. The Quadrifoglio also comes with a Harman Kardon premium audio system and Alcantara headliner.

Performance

10/ 10

The standard engine in the 2021 Giulia is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. The Quadrifoglio trim boasts a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 engine that’s actually derived from a Ferrari powerplant. It develops 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Both engines route power through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard, but the base engine is also available with all-wheel drive (AWD).

The four-cylinder turbo engine makes great power for everyday use. It’s responsive both around town and getting up to highway speeds. Down in the center console is the toggle for the Giulia’s DNA system, which includes Dynamic, Natural, and All-Weather drive modes. Each mode uniquely alters the throttle response, transmission mapping, brakes, and steering. Even in Natural (aka Normal) mode, the Giulia is taut and responsive around corners, but that doesn't come at the cost of ride quality.

Quadrifoglio is Italian for “four-leaf clover,” and has historically been the symbol for Alfa Romeo’s performance and racing vehicles. The raucous twin-turbo V6 in this model turns the Giulia into a four-door muscle car with a claimed 191-mph top speed. The handling is more hardcore, and as a result, the ride is slightly stiffer. Moving up to the Quadrifoglio also adds a Race Mode to the DNA toggle.

Form and Function

7/ 10

The Giulia’s front seats feel more sports car than sports sedan, enveloping you in deep buckets as the controls surround the driver. In a pure luxury car, this might feel cramped, but such snugness is welcomed in a performance-minded vehicle like this. The rear seats are also snug, which is not ideal for long drives. Other luxury-sedan options will have more accommodating rear seats.

The Giulia has 13 cubic feet of cargo space, which is not the best, but also not the worst. The BMW 3 Series has upwards of 17 cubic feet and is a standout in the segment. Compare it to the Audi A4, which only has 12 cubic feet, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which has 12.6 cubic feet. Though it has better trunk space than a few of these rivals, the Giulia has a narrow trunk opening, which makes it more difficult to load in larger items. If you need more cargo and passenger space, you should check out the Giulia's SUV counterpart, the Stelvio.

Tech Level

7/ 10

The Giulia is one year removed from a much-needed infotainment update. The infotainment system now has a touchscreen but can also be controlled by the rotary dial in the center console. From the addition of touch control, to improved graphics, to better menu navigation, the folks at Alfa heard the criticisms surrounding its previous infotainment system and responded.

But it's still not as good as it could be. Alfa Romeo seeks to differentiate itself from the rest of the Stellantis portfolio of brands, including Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler. But those brands have some of the most intuitive infotainment systems in the industry. Being different just to be different at the cost of actual usability doesn't make sense, but many other luxury brands are guilty of the same thing.

Safety

7/ 10

The 2021 Giulia comes standard with driver assistance features such as automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and rear parking sensors. Other than that, most driver assistance features are optional. This includes lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, and a driver drowsiness monitor. Many of these features are standard equipment on rival cars. In fact, many of these features are found on cars from non-premium brands that cost thousands less.

Cost-Effectiveness

6/ 10

The most fuel-efficient version of the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia is the base engine with RWD. It returns EPA-rated fuel economy of 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. With AWD, its fuel economy falls to 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio returns 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined.

Base MSRP for the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia is $41,010 for the Sprint trim. The Ti trim starts at $43,200, and the Ti Sport starts at $47,060. Selecting AWD adds $2,000 to the price of any of these trims. The Quadrifoglio starts at $75,250 and is only available with RWD. Some special colors can add another $2,200 to the price. A fully loaded Quadrifoglio with options can cost as much as $84,000.

The Giulia’s price is nearly on par with the other quintessential performance/luxury sedan, the BMW 3 Series. Though in recent years, BMW has gone for technology and comfort rather than its “Ultimate Driving Machine” persona. The Giulia has a nice interior, but not on the same level as a 3 Series or especially a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Giulia fits somewhere between a high-powered, upscale Mazda and a BMW performance variant, in the best way possible. If performance is your thing and you don’t want to blend in with the other upscale sedans in the parking lot, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is for you.

Updated by George Kennedy

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