There's certainly something to be said about the screaming 505-horsepower Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadroglio. But even at a fraction of the price and with nearly half the power, the Giulia Ti Sport delivers impressive thrills and some of its hopped-up sibling's eye-catching looks. And with an update for 2020 that adds improved tech and more equipment, and there's even more to like about the Giulia for the new year.
But there is one problem with the Alfa: it’s pricey. Our tester, a loaded Ti Sport Carbon with all-wheel drive, costs an eye-watering $59,640. While the Giulia definitely stands out in a few key categories, like design and performance, the striking Italian doesn’t offer enough bang-for-the-buck in such a competitive class.
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The Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of the best-looking sedans on sale today. Elements like Alfa's signature triangular grille piece and flared, nostril-like lower vents give the Giulia an elegant look you won't find elsewhere in the class. Really, only the Volvo S60 is anywhere near as visually appealing in the class. And our Ti Sport Carbon tester – a hefty $4,000 upgrade over the Ti Sport – heightens the style even further with 19-inch wheels shared with the Quadrifoglio model, sharp red brake calipers (also available in yellow and black at no cost), and specific to the Carbon trim, carbon fiber accents on the grille, mirrors, side sills, and more, thrown in for good measure.
Alfa takes a more subtle approach inside (on this trim in particular) with a single-tone black leather on the dash, steering wheel, seats, and door panels (buyers can also get it in red). Our tester’s simple finish makes the cabin a bit basic, but well-finished and attractive otherwise, with nice materials and high-quality metal dials and buttons aplenty. The only real standout elements (again, part of the Ti Sport Carbon trim) are the carbon fiber trim pieces on the center console, around the door handles, and on the passenger side dash. That latter trim piece forms seamlessly into the embedded 8.8-inch touchscreen to form a clean, cohesive layout.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Alfa Romeo Giulia
Like the standard Ti Sport, the Carbon model gets Alfa's fancy “Sport Leather Seats” at no extra cost. Those upgraded buckets have great bolstering, a high-quality leather finish, eight-way power adjustability on the driver's side, and even thigh support extensions – a welcome feature that too few cars offer. They are an impressive set of seats, but not even they can combat the now-more-rigid suspension setup as part of the Ti Sport Performance package, and the larger 19-inch wheels. Overall, the Alfa has a pretty harsh ride. The Giulia is loud on-road, too; our tester had a noticeable wind leak on the driver's side and let in a lot of outside noise in general.
Front passenger space feels more than adequate for the class, offering enough room for your six-foot-tall author to stretch out comfortably. The backseat is a bit tighter, but at least offers the same high-quality leather and general fit-and-finish as the front buckets. Harshness and road noise notwithstanding, the Giulia is a pretty nice place to sit.
Alfa smartly ditched the base 2019 Giulia's 6.5-inch non-touchscreen for a larger, standard 8.8-inch touchscreen for 2020. This new-and-improved setup has a clean home screen layout with multiple customization options, responds quickly to touch inputs, and offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility at no extra cost. Our tester adds Alfa's baked-in navigation system and HD radio as part of the $3,400 Active Driver Assist package – but it's not an option we'd recommend; CarPlay and Android Auto are superior to Alfa's sub-par nav system. The standard nav doesn’t have great graphics and is difficult to use.
The Giulia Ti's turbocharged 2.0-liter isn't our favorite of the competitive set. It's fine, but there's noticeable lag at low engine speeds and an unwillingness to rev. Even though it's more powerful on paper than the competitive four-cylinders in the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Alfa's 280 horses don’t feel as punchy as they should. But that's our only complaint – the Giulia Ti Sport is sublime otherwise.
Fling it into a corner and the Giulia reveals itself as a supremely balanced, well-composed sports sedan. The suspension – while a bit stiff – is almost perfect from a dynamic standpoint. The car cuts quickly and remains completely flat and responsive through turns, with all four tires from the available all-wheel-drive system clinging to the pavement. We credit the Ti Sport Performance package, in part, for this particular Giulia's tossability; the $1,350 option adds an active suspension and a limited-slip differential to the standard Ti Sport. The four-piston Brembo brakes deliver abundant stopping power as well, and though the steering is a touch light, it delivers flawless feedback and quick turn-in. The Giulia is proof cars don’t need to be fast to be fun.
Standard active safety equipment isn't the Guilia's strong suit. It costs a decent chunk of change – even on our well-loaded Ti Sport Carbon model – to buy the driver assist package ($3,400), which includes active blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlamps, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition. Much of that same equipment comes standard on other vehicles in the class. But having the option to buy advanced active safety equipment at all is a plus, and all of those optional features do work well on the road when equipped.
There’s nothing especially impressive about the Giulia’s 23 miles per gallon city, 31 highway, and 26 combined. If anything, it’s on par (if not a bit low) for the class. The all-wheel-drive BMW 330i gets up to 28 mpg combined, the all-wheel-drive Audi A4 gets 27 combined mpg, and the Mercedes-Benz C300 matches the Giulia with 26 MPG combined.
The problem isn't the Giulia's $38,545 starting price – in fact, only the Genesis G70 and Audi A4 are less expensive to start. Nor are we offended by the base Ti all-wheel-drive model's $43,345 bill. That's a reasonable price for a nicely equipped, all-wheel-drive car in this class. It's our Giulia tester's $59,640 final figure that concerns us.
The most expensive option is the Sport Carbon trim itself: a hearty $4,000 add-on to the Giulia Ti Sport AWD. The Active Driver Assist package is another $3,400, the Ti Sport Performance package and dual-pane sunroof are both $1,350, and a handful of lesser options, like the exterior finish and interior accessories, hike the total cost to nearly $60,000.
Yes, similarly equipped competitors can get as pricey; we tested a BMW 330i M Sport with all-wheel drive that cost $59,270, and the Mercedes C300 in the right spec nearly costs $59,000. But both of those cars offer equipment, like improved technology and better powertrains, that the Alfa (even at this price) simply doesn't.
Gallery: 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport: Review
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Carbon AWD