Driven

Driven: Alfa Romeo Giulia

It’s hard to quantify, but there’s just something special about an Italian car. The flair of its styling, the roar of its engine, the feel of its suspension. Now, with the introduction of the new 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia, an affordable mid-sized Italian sedan is finally available to American audiences.

The first thing you notice is the styling, which is beautiful, if not unique, in its wind tunnel-shape with sharply raked windows and a small trunk opening. But the character lines—aggressive front fascia with classic Alfa grille and other styling touches—do go a long way to make it eye-catching.

The Giulia Ti has a 280-horsepower engine that produces enough off-the-line power to propel it to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. If that’s not fast enough for you, a 6-cylinder engine good for 505 horsepower is also available, but at nearly twice the price. The Giulia has a nice, tight suspension that keeps it flat in hard cornering but doesn’t beat you up in normal driving. Combined with good brakes and responsive handling (thanks in part to its all-wheel drive), that makes it entertaining and sporty.

The 8-speed automatic transmission sometimes feels like it’s searching for the right gear, especially at lower speeds, but this can be overcome by using the paddle shifters. There are three shift options, D (dynamic), N (natural) and A (advanced efficiency). The engine start/stop button is on the thick, leather-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel—very sporty. Steering is overboosted at low speeds but tightens up nicely as speed increases, and the engine shuts off at stops, which also negates the power steering and causes a small shudder on re-start. A great safety feature is the forward collision warning plus, which alerts you if you approach a car too quickly, and can even apply the brakes to help avoid an accident. A rear backup camera and front and rear park assist make parking easy, and there is blind spot and cross path detection as well.

The interior is pretty luxurious for a car of this price, with well-bolstered, heated leather seats, wood trim, dual automatic climate control, and the most beautifully contoured and integrated 8.8-inch video screen interface I’ve seen in a car. Grazie, Italian styling. The video screen is relatively easy to use, with a control knob between the seats instead of a touchscreen. Rear seat room is decent, though you probably wouldn’t want to squeeze in a third person. The trunk is moderately sized with a small opening and can be expanded by folding down the rear seats.

According to Heath Goodrich, sales executive at Jim Butler Alfa Romeo, “The Giulia is a phenomenal combination of style and performance in an affordable package.”

technicals » alfa romeo giulia Ti all-wheel drive
price:
» Base $42,000, including delivery
» As driven with options, $49,000

gas mileage:
» 23 city, 31 highway

drivetrain:
» Front engine; all-wheel drive
» 2.0-litre, turbo-charged, 4-cylinder engine
» 280 horsepower
» 8-speed automatic transmission

Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.

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