Here it is. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is often overlooked, misunderstood and therefore undersold. There should be more of these on the roads despite the endless chip shortages and supply issues. It really is an excellent product from the Italian stable and it’s one of the burning questions in our office – why don’t South African consumers buy these with more conviction? We’re very close to taking to the streets to find out – think of it as direct marketing for petrolheads by petrolheads.
The 2.0L turbo Veloce is the entry-level proposition in the Giulia range. It is a considered and charming design built by a team of people who take car design very seriously. There’s a poise to its stance, an elegance to its lines and character that never quite resolves itself, constantly leaving you re-evaluating it from every angle. There’s a beauty to it no doubt, but there’s something else too. Something that gets deeper the more time you spend with it.
In looks alone it’s more desirable than any German claim and it does carry the passion of a nation too. I was stopped by no less than 5 people, all Italian, to congratulate me on my purchase and to have a moment to gaze at its beauty. Every single one of them asked me to remove the number plate seeing it as absolute sacrilege in how it mars the balance of that sporty front end design.
The Italian interior too, makes a strong showing. There’s clear improvement in tactility from the pre-facelift Giulia and that’s only a good thing. The seats are stylish, comfortable and well bolstered and the 8,8” infotainment system is simple to use, yet fully loaded. Now with the likes of Apple CarPlay, I’m a big fan of the multi-use design with a toggle wheel at the base of the gear lever as well as the touch function. I like the focus of the interior architecture - call it driver-centric and uncomplicated.
On the down side, some buttons still feel slightly cheaper than this cars competitors. The multi-function steering wheel controls for instance, do feel somewhat tinny, but on the whole, cabin quality is greatly improved.
But it isn’t just stunning to look at. It’s brilliant to drive too. The Giulia Veloce sports an in-line 4-cylinder, 2.0L turbo petrol engine up front coupled to that dependably popular ZF 8-Speed auto transmission. 206kW and 400Nm from the force-fed engine all gets sent to the rear via a carbon-fibre driveshaft and is then managed and controlled via aluminium braking and suspension components tuned for driving pleasure more than anything else. The result? Driving excellence.
Everything feels connected with this car. The seating position is perfect and it then follows through to a steering, pedal and vehicle feel that is simply lovely.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia rides with a commendable composure, its active suspension and 50/50 weight distribution ably catering to a comfortable ride with more sporty persuasions. Three driving modes are available, selected through the DNA drive mode selector: Dynamic; Natural and Advanced Efficiency. Even in its most ‘docile’ setting if one could call it that, the Giulia always feels confident and controlled, exciting even. Push it hard and that front end precision and rear confidence wins true, and even at the limit of traction the Giulia’s electronic aids temper things sometimes all to quickly for my liking. Don’t attempt to search for the TC button – there is no switch to turn traction off. That is only available in the rarefied QV version. Some YouTube videos will give some interesting ideas to turn the TC off – but this car belongs to Alfa Romeo, these were out of the question. My feeling is that even the 2.0L Veloce will dance with relative ease.
This is the mystery isn't it? Ownership is where a number of conversations seem to take a turn. The perception of the Alfa Romeo brand and products is as polarising as the Abu Dhabi F1 finale. Having spent a good time in the Giulia, I must stress the value proposition of the car beyond any perceptions and misguided opinions.
If you’re considering the Giulia for its rear seat space, it’s not the class leader here. The car’s design, charm and driving excellence wins over its overall practicality and the rear seats may seem cramped compared to its rivals. Boot space on the other hand is decent at 480-litres, right on par with the BMW equivalent and larger than the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The price could be considered good value as far as competitors are concerned. A well specified C-Class or 3-Series equivalent will see you nudge into R1M territory so the Alfa is priced as premium(which it is is) but less expensive than one may imagine.
It is sold at the listed price with a 5yr/150 000km warranty and 5yr/150 000km Maintenance Plan.
If you love cars and driving, then the Alfa Romeo must make your shortlist. It simply cannot be overlooked in the shadow of yesteryear’s reputational woes or finicky temperaments. Whilst sedans are a dying breed (unfortunately) the Giulia is one of those that reminds us why we love driving and why cars are and should be bought with some emotional attachment.
At this price and compared to its rivals, it really is the most stunning, the most engaging and the most exclusive option available. Not perfect, but you have to own an Alfa at some point in your life right?