First Drive: Alfa Romeo Giulia 2023 Review
The Alfa Romeo Giulia was a central part of the Italian giant’s return to form back in the middle of the last decade. Properly enjoyable to drive, seemingly well put together and stonking to look at with a fire-breathing Giulia Quadrifoglio version, it was pretty much everything we had been wishing for from Alfa Romeo for decades.
But now the company has its eyes firmly set on the end of petrol combustion. Full electrification in just four years is something that will be mentioned in every Alfa Romeo article from now until that target is (or isn’t) reached. That means cars like the Giulia, and the larger Alfa Romeo Stelvio, aren’t going to be blessed with major updates for the rest of their lives. They also won’t be replaced with full EVs just yet, so we’ve had plenty of time to get to know the Giulia, but this slightly updated version ought to be around for a while longer too.
- Looks fantastic
- Engaging handling
- Less mental than the Quadrifoglio
We don't like
- Interior quality not quite as high as rivals
- Engine doesn't sound amazing
- Less mental than the Quadrifoglio
As I said, we love the looks of the Giulia. A properly pretty saloon car is a real rarity these days (see the demise of the Mazda 6) and the Giulia has ticked all of our boxes since it first arrived on the scene in 2015. The updates for the 2023 Alfa Romeo Giulia are with the lightest of touches – it’s just the lights.
Those new lamps come pretty much direct from the Tonale, and have the three-piece insets that ape the design (roughly) of the Alfa Romeo SZ. Other than that, it’s the same as before – proper Alfa Romeo grille, lovely haunches, nice lines into the rear. This Veloce is not as muscular and overbearing as the Quadrifoglio, but if anything, it’s a prettier prospect. Whether the new lights actually look better on the Giulia is up to interpretation.
Performance and Handling
We drove the Veloce spec of the latest Alfa Romeo Giulia. It has arguably been the sweetest spot in the Giulia range until now – and I’m happy to confirm that this remains the status quo.
The Veloce is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s hardly the screaming V6 of Alfa legend, but with 280PS (206kW) on tap and 400Nm (295lb ft) available it’s also endowed well enough to survive. Peak torque doesn’t kick in until a relatively high 2,250rpm – power at 5,250 – so there is a whiff of delay on pickup, but once it gets going the delivery is smooth and controllable.
The Giulia Veloce’s real trump card remains its chassis. While the engine might not get close to the fire of that in the Quadrifoglio, the way the Veloce handles provides a strong sample of the big brother’s talents. Damping is firm but nicely pliable, providing a good mixture between allowing you to live with the car day-to-day and good response to inputs. The steering is weighted on the stronger side, but complements the chassis nicely.
On a B-road the Giulia Veloce really comes to life, there is still no apparent way to turn off the traction control, but it’s a relatively slack system, not wishing to clamp you in irons the moment you try to bring the car round a tighter corner. That rear slip isn’t outrageous, like it can be in the Quadrifoglio, but with a limited-slip differential in place it’s controllable and helpful, especially for traction on exit.
Very little has changed here too, much like the outside. The update to both Stelvio and Giulia that came in 2020 did more than rearrange the decks on the Titanic – adding better positioning for several features and updating the touchscreen – and not a lot has been fiddled with since then.
Compared to the latest car from Alfa Romeo, the Tonale, it does look a little like the inside bits of a car that’s been there for as long as the Giulia has, but it’s not a bad place to be. The materials are good, although some trim can be pulled away from its moorings with not a lot of effort, and I still like the integration of the screen, fully into the dash rather than sitting proud like every other car in existence.
Technology and Features
The starting price of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce – £47,759 – isn’t un-steep, but Alfa has over the years littered things into it to make up. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are there as expected and the system infotainment system in the 8.8-inch screen is pleasingly laid out and relatively simple to use.
As standard the Veloce has wireless charging, DAB radio, heated steering wheel, 8.8-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch instrument display, sat-nav, heated front seats and rain sensing wipers.
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia is… very much like the old Alfa Romeo Giulia. The changes are largely cosmetic and perhaps the odd tweak and trim, but the underlying car was one of the most enjoyable large saloons to drive before and it remains so now.
If you’re looking for a performance saloon but really cannot stomach the jump up to Quadrifoglio territory you won’t feel short-changed by spending your life with the Veloce spec either. But if you are stepping from something decidedly German, the difference in quality of materials will be very much noticeable.
That said, nothing in its class looks anywhere near as good as the Giulia, and very little provides the touch of driving engagement in the same way. We love the Giulia, and have will never complain about its longevity.
|Engine||2.0-litre turbocharged petrol|
|Torque||400Nm (295lb ft)|
Reviewed by Ben Miles