Giulia Q2 TI has the brio befitting Alfa Romeo’s storied brand.
But it also has enough quirks to ruin a lifelong relationship.
Let’s begin our tour of the sports sedan under the hood. A 280-hp turbocharged mill teases the rear wheels via a German-made ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Gear picking is so smooth it seems telepathic.
Behind the wheel, steering is quick and accurate. Feedback is good. The car has wide tires, big wheels and a compliant suspension that grooves to your moves. It easily holds a straight line, and it feels as if you could drive it blindfolded. But don’t.
Alfa offers three drive modes called “DNA.” “D” is dynamic, with the highest steering effort and firmest shock damping. A pushbutton lets you soften shocks. It’s like taking a Rowenta iron to pot-holed Wisconsin roadways. Other settings include “normal” and “active eco.” Pick the latter and this Italian stallion becomes a pokey pony.
The body is made of lightweight materials. The hood, fenders and door panels are aluminum, as are key suspension parts. Mass is balanced 50/50 front/rear.
The test car’s brakes were nonlinear, with a low pedal. That caused inadvertent right-foot application of the throttle, when aiming for brakes. Simultaneous application of the brake and throttle pedals triggers an engine-control warning. While brake override software prevents a runaway car — something Toyota learned the hard way — pedal play shouldn’t flummox a sports sedan.
Alfa’s 8.8-inch non-touchscreen is stylishly integrated into the dashboard, but good looks don’t mean easy to use. The device is maddening. Its rotary-dial interface lacks shortcut keys. And the unit kept plugging a sports subscription channel. It took three taps to pull up maps.
The steering wheel’s start button could be an anti-theft device — its position varies with wheel placement.
The navigation system went bonkers in Ozaukee County. Menus grayed. Maps vanished, and the navigational voice spouted now useless directions. It wouldn’t stop nagging even after I pulled over and turned off the ignition.
Assembly and material quality varies. The shifter, for example, mimics a BMW, but its plastic edges aren’t Beamer smooth.
Other interior bits seem low rent. The hood release, for example, feels flimsy. The lovely alloy column-mounted shifter paddles, however, interfere when accessing the column’s stalks.
The forward collision sensor isn’t winter-weather friendly. Snowflakes cling to it like Velcro, disabling collision mitigation. In contrast, a humorous Harpo Marx-like toot reminds you to stay in your lane.
Despite the gremlins, saddle time enthralls.
You wear the Giulia like a Gucci loafer. Enter the driver’s seat by sliding your feet down a ramped floor to the pedals. The TI’s racy powered front seats have adjustable side bolsters. It’s perfect for a skinny guy or a Milan fashion model.
Rear seating is padded and sculpted to eke out extra room, but it’s ultimately too snug for cross-country treks. Those who inhabit this padded space get HVAC vents and an overhead skylight with screen. There’s a pass through for skis in the 40/20/40 split bench but stowage room is skimpy.
Alfa’s fuel-saving engine-stop setup never shut the engine off during my weeklong test. Fuel economy was 25.3 mpg overall. Premium fuel is required. The EPA predicts 24 city, 33 highway, 27 mpg combined.
A Giulia’s entry price is $39,995. The Rosso (red) Competizione tri-coat exterior paint sparkles. It costs $2,200. Go full Q2 TI sport package, which includes 19-inch five-hole aluminum wheels, driver assistance, active suspension, mechanical limited slip differential, dual-pane sunroof, Harman Kardon premium audio system and the tally is $51,990. That’s not cheap, but it does also include arrest-me wide 255-mm rear tires.
Those additional perks transform the Alfa into a driver’s Taj Mahal. It’s been said that money can’t buy love, but perhaps the Giulia is an exception.