- Surprisingly good value for money
- The driver’s choice in the segment
- Punchy engine and great transmission
- Three-year warranty and expensive servicing
- No LED headlights or HUD
- No more tan leather
If you talk about automotive legends, it’s inevitable that Italian brand Alfa Romeo will be mentioned. Started way back in 1910, Alfa Romeo has produced some magical cars over the years that put style above everything else. Memories of an Alfa Spider cruising along the Amalfi Coast with Grace Kelly behind the wheel will no doubt be playing in your mind, with words like ‘passion’, ‘soul’ and ‘beauty’ not far behind it. It’s these words – and the buyers behind them – who have kept the company alive ever since, though on a significantly smaller scale to the German giants thanks to Alfa’s products largely playing a different tune to rivals. The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is meant to be a more mainstream competitor than the brand’s previous efforts, so how does it compare to the established order? Let’s find out.
The Giulia is a mid-size premium sports sedan that competes with the established German trifecta – the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class – as well as cars such as the Lexus IS, all-electric Tesla Model 3, Jaguar XE and Genesis G70.
Price & Equipment: 8/10
While 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia pricing starts at $63,950 plus on-road costs (around $69,000 drive away), we tested the mid-spec Giulia Veloce that’s $7,500 dearer at $71,450 +ORC (around $77,000 drive away), which adds a more powerful engine, a mechanical limited-slip differential and sportier styling and interior details, such as a leather-trimmed dashboard. In fact, the Giulia Veloce largely follows the styling of the supercar quick $150,000 Giulia Quadrifoglio, which uses a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine co-developed with Ferrari.
Standard kit on the Veloce includes 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights (yep, not LED) with LED rear lighting, leather upholstery with heated front and rear seats, a heated leather steering wheel and gearknob, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, 10-way electrically adjustable front seats with driver’s memory functionality, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, an eight-speaker sound system, a wireless phone charger, front and rear USB charging ports, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and start, heated and auto-folding mirrors, red brake callipers, 40:20:40-split folding rear seats and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
Safety equipment includes six airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention monitoring, intelligent speed sign recognition, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam and tyre pressure monitoring.
Colour options on the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce include our test car’s ‘Alfa Red’ and ‘Alfa White’, which are both no-cost options. For an extra $1,355, buyers can choose from ‘Vulcano Black’, ‘Anodised Blue’, ‘Misano Blue’, ‘Visconti Green’, ‘Vesuvio Grey’, and ‘Moonlight Pearl’. Interior colour options include black or red, with the beige, cream and tan options no longer available. An Alfa Romeo without tan leather is a big sin in our books.
Just two options are available locally: a wonderful 900W 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system ($1,255) and an expensive dual-pane panoramic sunroof ($2,255). Our test car featured both options for a drive away price of around $81,000.
Competitors for the Giulia Veloce include the $88,000 drive away BMW 330i, $78,000 drive away Audi A4 45 TFSI and $84,000 drive away Genesis G70 3.3T Sport. None of these cars are particularly cheap, but the Giulia Veloce does look like good value when weighing up its standard equipment – while the $11,000 more expensive BMW 330i features kit like a heads-up display, auto rear braking and LED headlights, buyers of the BMW must spend a further $6,200 on options to match the otherwise standard kit on the Giulia.
Performance & Economy: 9/10
Under the bonnet of the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 206kW of power and a strong 400Nm of torque, which gives it a 0-100km/h sprint time of just 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 240km/h. Aside from the 221kW Jaguar XE and 272kW V6 Genesis G70, the Giulia’s outputs are class-leading – the BMW 330i makes a lesser 190kW and the Audi A4 45 183kW.
While the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s 375kW 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 makes the headlines, the smaller Veloce’s four-cylinder engine is excellent. It’s strong, quick and it sounds pretty good as well. There’s a touch of turbo lag from idle, but that disappears and you’re on your way with surprising ferocity.
Standard on all Giulia models is a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and, like the engine, it’s excellent. It’s smooth, intuitive and really is completely trouble-free – it does as you’d expect it to. There are a few tricks to it – pulling both of the wonderful paddle shifters puts it into Neutral, for example. Changing the car’s drive modes (Alfa calls it ‘DNA’ for dynamic, normal and all-weather modes) alters the transmission’s characteristics – the former sharpens it up and the latter slows it down in case of bad weather.
Alfa Romeo claims combined fuel consumption of just 6.1L/100km, which we found hard to achieve (probably with just how fun the Giulia is) – we got 7.8L/100km combined. Like its rivals, the Giulia needs minimum 95RON premium unleaded fuel and it features a 58-litre fuel tank. CO2 emissions are claimed at just 141g/km, and the engine is Euro 6 emissions compliant.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
As with the Stelvio SUV also currently sold in Australia, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is built on the company’s ‘Giorgio’ platform. The platform itself reportedly cost more than $1 billion to develop, so it ought be good – thankfully it is. Unlike the 159 and 156 that preceded it, the Giulia is a real class act when it comes to dynamics and part of that is because of the platform and the other part is due to the brand’s newfound focus on driving fun.
Of course the heavyweight Giulia QV wins all the headlines with its supercar-troubling speed, but the Veloce we tested here is a full 150kg lighter than that car, and it shows. Weighing in at just 1,490kg (tare mass), the Giulia Veloce weighs almost 100kg less than the Jaguar XE and while that’s a great car to drive, the Giulia feels significantly lighter on its feet. Even from just setting off, you immediately feel how light, natural and communicative even the steering is in the Giulia.
The ride and handling balance is similarly excellent with a controlled, lightweight and communicative feeling. The ride on the standard 19-inch wheels can be a touch firm around town, but it’s otherwise well damped. The standard setting is great for normal driving, but the firmer dynamic setting is great for a backroad thanks to the car’s razor sharp body control – it settles almost instantly after even bigger bumps. Find a good set of bends and you’ll be able to revel in the Giulia’s rear-drive balance and its sharp handing. Cornering hard is so much fun, and even on rubbish roads, the Giulia just darts from corner to corner relatively unfazed. Put simply, it’s a class act.
Unlike the base Giulia Sport, a limited-slip differential is standard on the Veloce, which helps cornering ability even more and it’s very much a worthy upgrade if you give a damn about driving.
Other elements of the Giulia’s driving experience are positive as well. Road noise levels – even despite large 19-inch wheels – are pleasingly low, while its active safety systems are also pretty well tuned. Unlike a lot of brands’ systems, they’re not intrusive and – crucially for some – quite trusting of the driver. As you’d expect really, for a driver-focused brand such as Alfa Romeo.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
The interior of the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is a reminder of just how well Italians can do automotive cabins. The quality is fantastic, it looks exotic, it’s reasonably practical and the driving position is nicely low-slung as well. Put simply, it’s a great place to spend time – though it’s not perfect.
Recently updated as part of a mid-life update, the Giulia’s cabin is now higher quality with new materials and new switchgear aimed at making it feel more expensive. Thankfully, the update has worked with a new leather-stitched dashboard, new infotainment system controls with extra damping and an updated touchscreen infotainment system for a greater UX experience.
The Giulia’s touchscreen is an 8.8-inch unit that’s well featured – it’s got wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and inbuilt satellite navigation. Like BMW’s iDrive, it can be controlled through either touch or the control wheel and unlike iDrive, it’s quite easy to get used to from the moment you start using it. The screen looks a bit small thanks to the dashboard’s layout and that the dashboard isn’t horizontal, though, and its quality isn’t that sharp either. There are no digital dials – instead, you get these wonderful clear and concise traditional Alfa Romeo dials. A heads-up display would be a nice addition, however.
The Giulia’s cabin is relatively practical with a nicely-sized centre bin with a wireless phone charger, reasonable door bins, a nicely-sized glovebox and secret compartment under the steering wheel and big upholders ahead of the gearbox. It’s roomy for the front passengers, though the rear is less practical – especially with the optional sunroof. Six-footers will be fine with legroom, though headroom is tight and something like an Audi A4 is more practical. The rear seat is well featured though wth two USB ports, vents, an armrest with cupholders and heated seats.
The boot of Giulia measures 480-litres with the rear seats folded, and unlike a lot of rivals, they split-fold 40:20:40. The boot is well finished with lovely carpeting and it features tie down points and a few hooks. Thanks to run-flat tyres, there is no spare tyre. While it’s not as spacious as a Volkswagen Passat (586L) or Skoda Superb (625L), the Giulia’s bootspace is healthy for the segment – the BMW 330i offers an identical 480L, while the Audi A4 45 offers 460L, the Jaguar XE 345L and the Genesis G70 just 330L of space.
Service & Warranty: 6/10
Like other Alfa Romeo products, the Giulia comes with a three-year/150,000km warranty with roadside assistance for the same three year period. The Giulia’s service intervals are once yearly or every 15,000km, whichever comes first. Five years/75,000km of servicing costs $2,865 ($573 per service).
Competitors such as the Audi A4 and BMW 330i offer the same warranty term but don’t publish service costs. Instead, both companies offer service packs – BMW charges $1,750 for a five-year/80,000km plan ($350 per service) and Audi charges $2,920 for five years/75,000km ($584 per service). The Jaguar XE comes with a longer five-year/unlimited km warranty and five years/102,000km of servicing is $1,950 and its servicing intervals are a longer 20,000km.
The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
The 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is a car that is easy to love. It looks great, it drives very well, it offers good performance and economy, the interior is well made and it’s reasonably practical as well. Unlike Alfa products before it as well, it’s actually pretty good value for money against its main competition.
Our only complaints with it are a sub-par warranty, a few missing features such as LED headlights and a heads-up display and that some interior switchgear is not up to the quality of rivals. But these niggles are small in comparison with the Giulia’s overall package as not only does it prove that Alfa Romeo can do mainstream, but it can still keep the usual adjectives like ‘soul’ and ‘passion’ to describe its cars.
Photography by Michael Frazer.