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- Highs Stunning styling, driver-focused interior, eager driving dynamics.
- Lows Interior storage is at a premium, stiff ride, rear-seat space is tight.
- Verdict Although not without its faults, the 2021 Giulia delivers driving thrills that endear it to enthusiast drivers.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia appeals to driving enthusiasts with its fun-to-drive chassis, sonorous powertrain, and drop-dead gorgeous styling. It's designed to take on sports sedans such as the BMW 3-series, the Genesis G70, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class, and that hot-blooded Italian flair easily sets it apart from that more mundane crowd. A 280-hp turbocharged four-cylinder delivers plentiful power and the Giulia's sharp handling will meet even the most aggressive driver's expectations. While its interior design is less inspired than its boisterous exterior, the Giulia still offers an upscale experience complete with plentiful amenities and a driver-focused layout. Those looking for a more extreme sports sedan should instead consider the high-performance Quadrifoglio variant—reviewed separately—which swaps out the standard four-cylinder for a 505-hp twin-turbo V-6.
What's New for 2021?
Alfa Romeo has trimmed the Giulia lineup from five to three trims for 2021, starting with the new entry-level Sprint model. The mid-range Ti and top-spec Ti Sport both receive new standard equipment. Both models now come with a panoramic sunroof and in-dash navigation; the Ti Sport also gains a standard limited-slip differential. A quartet of new colors—Ocra GT Junior, Rosso GTA, Rosso Villa d'Este, and Verde Montreal—are also new to the options sheet for 2021.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Since the Giulia's best trait is its crisp driving dynamics, we'd double down and go with the mid-range Ti model and spec the Performance package, which includes an active suspension and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, both of which elevate the Giulia's handling performance. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and we'd stick with that, but all-wheel drive is available and adds $2000 to the bottom line.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Giulia's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 280 horsepower, sounds intoxicating, and feels gutsy when driven hard. The Giulia pulls away from stoplights with zeal while singing soaring Italian arias. Our rear-wheel-drive test car's 5.7-second zero-to-60-mph time and an all-wheel-drive model's time of 5.5 seconds places the Giulia midpack in its segment in our acceleration testing; the Audi A4 did it in 5.2 seconds and the four-cylinder BMW 330i managed 5.4 seconds despite the fact that both cars have less horsepower than the Alfa. All Giulias come with a drive-mode selector with three unique settings: Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency—cleverly making the acronym DNA—each of which alters the car's transmission, engine management, and steering feel. Agile and lively at all times, the Giulia is a driving enthusiast's sports sedan. The front tires are very responsive to driver inputs and speak clearly to the driver through the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Body roll is well controlled, and in hard corners the Giulia remains flat and predictable. It's easy to drive quickly and aggressively, but it's equally comfortable when driven sedately.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Among its turbocharged four-cylinder rivals, the Giulia has competitive fuel-efficiency numbers from the EPA, just shy of class leading. Rear-wheel drive models are rated at 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. All-wheel-drive models see a slight deficit at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, but that's common in this class. In our real-world highway fuel-economy test, our rear-wheel-drive Ti test vehicle nearly delivered on its EPA number with a 32-mpg result.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the Giulia features soft-touch plastics, fine leather, and either textured metallic or genuine wood trimmings. It's an elegantly styled cabin, with a wide, sweeping dashboard that acts as a visor to shade the integrated infotainment screen from the sun. The seats are comfortable and well bolstered, especially the optional sport seats. Pack your sunnies, though: The Giulia's sun visors are laughably small and ineffective when driving head-on into the sun. The Giulia managed to fit five of our carry-on cases inside its trunk; with its rear seats folded, it managed 14, lagging segment leaders by one carry-on. Giulia and Giulia Ti models have a split-folding rear seat that folds flat easily to expand cargo-hauling capability.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Giulias feature Alfa Romeo's new 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system tucked in between the dashtop and the central climate-control vents. Three USB ports, an auxiliary input jack, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity are all standard. The infotainment interface is relatively intuitive and offers customization options, but we found the optional navigation to be occasionally slow to update at crucial times during turn-by-turn directions and several of the on-screen icons are small and difficult to activate while driving. Although the new system has incorporated a touchscreen, Alfa Romeo has retained the auxiliary rotary knob controller on the center console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard and a 14-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system is optional.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Alfa has included automated emergency braking as standard for 2021, but more advanced driver-assistance technology is still optional. For more information about the Giulia's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Warranty coverage may be an important issue to keep in mind when buying an Alfa Romeo; the brand's reputation for reliability is among the worst in the business. Alfa Romeo's warranty coverage follows the same convention as most of its rivals, although Jaguar bucks the trend here with lengthier warranties. Giulia owners are treated to complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first year, but the 3-series and the Jaguar XE both offer better value here.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia
front-engine, rear- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
BASE PRICE (C/D EST)
turbocharged and intercooled SOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
122 cu in, 1993 cc
280 hp @ 5200 rpm
306 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Wheelbase: 111.0 in
Length: 182.8 in
Width: 73.2 in
Height: 56.5–57.1 in
Passenger volume: 94 cu ft
Trunk volume: 13 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 3650–3700 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 5.4–5.6 sec
100 mph: 14.0–14.6 sec
¼-mile: 14.0–14.2 sec
Top speed: 149 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 26–27/23–24/31–33 mpg