After the briefest fling with the outstanding Alfa Romeo Giulia at Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) car of the year testing in October, I got to drive it for a whole week in December. Of course the day after I picked it up we got a barrel full of snow. Lucky that the Giulia was outfitted with all wheel drive. It handled the snow and ice with confidence.
I remember being at the Canadian International Auto Show in 2016, when FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) crowed about bringing Alfa Romeo back into North America after a long absence. In interviews after the unveiling however, Reid Bigland, head of Fiat Chrysler and Alfa Romeo North America seemed uncertain how the racy Giulia would be received. His caution was understandable since the Giulia competes with some well established sportsters including the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C 63.
My impression at the car testing event was immediately confirmed when I had the Giulia for a week. It is a seductive, nimble, even ethereal car to drive. Where the M3 and the C series AMG are grand statements of engineering competence, their bullet-proof demeanor feels rather weighty compared to the feathery Giulia. The Giulia behaves like a precocious debutante. It’s utterly addictive.
My test car was the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Q4, ringing in at a price of just over $61,000. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder delivers 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft. of torque. It’s not monstrous power, but the Giulia wrings every ounce of thrust out of the engine and whips through the gears of the 8-speed transmission with a bracing slap. It’s capable of 0-100 km/h in 5.2 seconds.
On the only snowless day I had to drive the Giulia I meandered the length of Burnhamthorpe Road after picking the vehicle up at FCA in Mississauga. On the meander I discovered a dead end with a charming, and original log cabin. It provided a sweet backdrop to photograph the shapely Italian Giulia. The front view is the most flamboyant with the big triangular shaped grille and familiar red and green badge of the Alfa brand.
In addition to the hungry-man 8-speed transmission the other stupendous thing about the Giulia is the steering. It slices, it dices, it lasers around turns with fierce precision. And it’s light, yet loses none of its focus. Big paddle shifters mounted on the hunky steering wheel allow the driver to drum through gears while flirting with the redline, and curiously, the steering wheel is the home of the engine start stop button. The very racy, and form fitting seats are delicious and keep you in place through all sorts of spirited driving.
The landscape at the centre console is minimalist. The Giulia does not present a buffet of buttons. There are sensibly big knobs for heat and AC controls, and below the gearshift a big dial for performance modes, which will mostly rest at the Dynamic setting for the utmost in driving pleasure. Otherwise the cabin is business- like with few embellishments.
After all it’s best to keep distractions to a minimum. The joy of the Giulia is in the driving. Light on its feet, fast and fierce the Giulia puts you in the moment. It’s a sort of no-filter driving that is hard to find these days.
Kathy Renwald is an award winning freelance journalist and a regular columnist for the Bay Observer, Hamilton Spectator, Grand Magazine and Wheels.ca. She covers city issues, lifestyle and autos.