The Italians Get This So Right.
Here’s the thing about style: it lets you know what experience to expect. Whether you’ll be snubbed by the valet or greeted with a gracious smile. If you’ll feel at home on a posh street or out of place. Whether you’ll be thrilled by your time in the car or bored.
But the big message style sends is about the life you’re living: is it fun and frill-free? Big and daring? Or chic and dashing? That’s the question that the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI answers: life inside a classic Italian style icon.
Spoiler alert: Chic and gorgeous are the descriptors here.
Who This Car is For
- Singles, couples, or small families
- Drivers who occasionally have back seat passengers
- Buyers who want a luxury sedan
- Buyers seeking a car that stands out from the crowd
- Drivers who need all the basics of safety and connected car technology
- Buyers who want a cutting-edge design experience
- Drivers who occasionally want a performance drive experience but don’t need the constant anxiousness (or fuel drain) of a bigger engine.
What This Car Costs
- Base price: $39,995
- Preferred package, which includes 5-hole wheels, performance run-flat tires, sport front and rear details, sport seats, paddle shifters: $2,250
- Leather package which includes leather dash and door panels: $995
- Driver assist package, which includes adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic high beam headlights: $1,200
- Harman Kardon premium sound system: $900
- 8.8 inch radio with bluetooth radio and navigation: $950
- Price of the model we test drove: $50,035
Fresh Italian Design Brings La Dolce Vita to Your Driveway
As a fan of Italian design, I was not surprised at all, and pleasantly pleased, with my test drive of the Alfa Romeo Giulia. I’ve long loved the easy, understated elegance of Milanese style, which was once described to me as “they want everyone to think they are rich,” even if they aren’t. Think of the confident fit and flow of Giorgio Armani, the modern elegance of Prada, the cutting-edge tailored feel of Stella McCartney.
That’s the Alfa Romeo Giulia, too. It looks and feels rich, refined and expensive, even when it’s solidly accessible, with the price of this model topping out at $50,000 (there is a more expensive edition, too, for those who need more power and distinction).
What Italian Design Should Do For You—and If It Doesn’t, It Fails
I’m devoted to Italian shoes; many of the best French, English or American shoes are made, even designed, in Italy. Shoe designers rely not just on the craftsmanship but also the eye for design and detail; not to just follow directions and get the product right, but to have a sense and feel for whether it’s right or not.
Italian handbags take that caché a step further: fine materials and details come together to make a solid statement and a functional piece that you’ll live with for years. A handbag isn’t just a place to stow your lipstick and iPad; it’s a style companion that completes an outfit, reflects your lifestyle and if it does its job well, opens doors. Its designers and craftspeople understand this.
Italian to the Core, With Design Details that Captured My Heart
This attention to detail is all very clear on the Alfa Romeo Giulia, which is built in Cassino, Italy, with 69% Italian-made parts.
Not that I can tell what is made in Italy and what isn’t, but the attention to detail in both design and manufacture is apparent. Some design details that caught my eye:
- Those wheels. Beautiful, distinct and surprising; these are not your average wheels and beautiful enough that even non “car” people commented on them throughout my test drive
- The animated and elegant front face of the Giulia
- An understated rear end with elegant tail lights and dual exhaust pipes
- The flat infotainment screen that is built into the dashboard; when the system is off it’s simply another elegant, unobtrusive surface
- Leather covered door panels, arm rests and dashboard, all featuring red stitching to connect not just the panels of leather but encouraging your eyes to follow the curves of the interior
- Elegant textured aluminum panels that cover the center console and upper door panels
- A minimalist approach to the steering wheel, center console and command controls. Nothing is overdone or overwhelming, everything is where it should be
No Risk, No Reward in Style and Design
My single biggest hesitation to buying anything new to the market, Alfa Romeo included, is that it has no track record, no reliability ratings, no history. However, Alfa Romeo is in its second model year in the US and has good DNA. A product of FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Giulia benefits from all the company knows and has learned. The expectation is that it will perform with respectability and that if problems arise, they’ll be taken care of. That’s the power (and comfort) of a large corporate owner.
Another benefit of being in the FCA family is a design vision that consistently produces beautiful, functional cars that lets you live the mission and message of the brand.
Touchless Screen Means No Fingerprints. BIG YAY
Alfa Romeo’s design team brings a minimalistic elegance to the space, from a streamlined center console and instrument panel to a flat infotainment screen (touchless, so no finger prints!) that is a seamless part of the dashboard. When it’s on, it displays clearly the needed commands and information. When it’s off it fades into the dashboard, unobtrusive and invisible, letting you keep your focus on what is important: the road, the gauges, the landscape, your driving partner.
The center console takes this minimalist approach, too. The gear shift is centrally located just behind two cup holders under a retractable aluminum cover that can also serve as a shelf for a phone (there’s a USB port just above it). To the right of the shifter is the drive mode selector, just behind it is the infotainment selector and to the right is radio volume control. It’s worth noting that the Giulia has the same type of shifter that many other FCA cars and trucks have: The shifter doesn’t move into the selected position; once a gear is selected the shifter pops back to its central resting position. This means that as a driver, it’s important to always be cognizant of what gear you’re in.
What’s in the Giulia DNA, Anyway?
DNA has two definitions here. First is the traditional meaning of DNA. Giulia is the next extension of the Alfa Romeo heritage, which has been building sporty race cars since 1911. Several years ago FCA decided to extend the brand to compete with European auto brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The plan included a full lineup of performance cars and the Giulia was the second to rollout after the very fast track-focused 4C.
That racing heritage informs the Giulia’s DNA drive modes. There are three settings: Dynamic, which is a performance mode with more power, less lag in acceleration and stiffer suspension; Normal, which is the default mode, comfortable and capable without too much jostling passengers around, and Advanced Efficiency, which allows the car to adjust to conditions and save fuel. It’s also worth noting that the Giulia is a rear wheel drive car, which is common and popular in performance cars.
Giulia’s Interior Design Never Let’s You Forget Its Racing Heritage
This racing heritage plays out in the look of the model we drove. A racing red interior probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but I do appreciate the statement it makes: this is serious fun. Still, the interior had a plush, luxurious feel about it. Buyers who don’t want to commit to living life on the red line can choose a black or tan interior.
Rear seat passengers will also enjoy the drive. The back seats are bucket seats so passengers sink right in. And with plenty of leg room and a few creature comforts including climate control and cup holders in the arm rest, adults will feel at home and kids will feel privileged.
Only Buy This Car If You Like Attention
One of the most fun things of test driving the Giulia was the attention it got. Valets loved parking it, friends wanted to go for a ride and people everywhere wanted to know more. Even a lady at the dentists’s office pulled alongside and put down her window to ask about it. I had to smile. The Giulia is a gem: fun to drive, a conversation piece and the entree to living la dolce vita.
What We Loved
- Gorgeous design inside and out
- 5-hole ‘flower’ wheels
- Minimalist interior
- Touchless infotainment screen that fades into the dash when not in use
- Great technology including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot detectors and rear cross traffic warning
- Run flat performance tires
- Remote keyless entry with push button start
- Harman Kardon premium sound system
- Leather performance seats with adjustable bolsters that hug you as you drive
- The price: this is a lot of style and luxury for the price
What you Need to Know
- This is the first model year
- 4 year/50,000 mile warranty
- Roadside assistance included
- Seating for 5 but more comfortable for 4
- The next model up is a true performance-edition Quadrifoglio with a larger 505 horsepower engine and a $72,000 price tag
- Premium fuel recommended
Disclosure: The Alfa Romeo Giulia was provided for this review; all opinions expressed are my own.