Finally, here it is – the long awaited replacement for the gorgeous but flawed 159 (I know about these things, I used to own one). The all-new Alfa Romeo Giulia has been unveiled to the world and the word that springs to mind is ‘Wow!’ It is, say Alfa, of distinctive Italian design with innovative powertrains, perfect weight distribution, unique technical solutions and the best weight-to-power ratio.
The taut and compact proportions of the Giulia have evolved from its all-new, rear-wheel drive architecture (all-wheel drive will also be available apparently). With the engine and major mechanical components arranged between the axles to ensure perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the Giulia has very short overhangs, a long bonnet and muscular haunches, while the wheelbase is longest in its segment to maximise stability, comfort and practicality.
Fortunately there has been no backsliding on the traditional Alfa Romeo design cues as demonstrated by the simple, natural lines of the Giulia, the perfectly-honed surface treatment and the legendary trefoil nose, one of the most recognisable style elements in the automotive world.
Inside, the design is just as crisp and fuss-free and, crucially, centred around the driver, with the main controls grouped together on the small steering wheel, with just two simple, user-friendly knobs for adjusting the Alfa DNA selector and the infotainment system. Premium materials, including carbon fibre and real wood, are chosen for their visual and tactile pleasantness and assembled in such a way to make the human touch visible, they say.
Under the bonnet, a range of state-of-the-art engines power the new Giulia with a bespoke unit created for the top-of-the-range Quadrifoglio version. Tuned by engineers from a Ferrari background, the flagship V6 turbo-petrol engine delivers an impressive 510hp, propelling the Giulia Quadrifoglio from 0 to 62mph in just 3.9 seconds, while also offering surprising fuel efficiency thanks to electronically-controlled cylinder deactivation system. As with all next-generation petrol and diesel engines, this six-cylinder unit is made entirely of lightweight aluminium and will, of course, deliver that distinctive Alfa Romeo sound to complement the performance.
In terms of the suspension, a sophisticated “Alfalink” multi-link solution has been chosen for the rear axle, while the front suspension employs a new, double-wishbone set up. Developed exclusively by Alfa Romeo, a new semi-virtual steering axis optimises the filtering effect and guarantees rapid, accurate steering by keeping a constant caster trail in corners. In combination with electronically-controlled adaptive dampers, the always-perfect footprint allows the Giulia to tackle high lateral forces while still ensuring the steering feels direct, natural and instinctive even at very high speeds. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t eat tyres like the front-wheel drive 159.
To emphasise the purity and excellence of the mechanicals, it was also determined that electronics should only be used to improve the driving experience. With this in mind, the Giulia introduces an innovative double-clutch Torque Vectoring system to allow the rear differential to control the torque delivery to each wheel independently, improving traction in low grip conditions without having to run up against an invasive stability control system. The Integrated Brake System is also being introduced on the new Alfa Romeo Giulia – an innovative electromechanical system which combines stability control and a traditional servo brake for instantaneous brake response and record-breaking stopping distances.
The new Giulia Quadrifoglio even has a front Active Aero Splitter to actively manage downforce for higher stability and better cornering grip even at high speed. These state-of-the-art systems are all governed by Chassis Domain Control, the ‘brains’ of the on-board electronics which has been assigned the specific task of optimising performance and driving pleasure.
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia also features a new Alfa DNA system which modifies the car’s dynamic behaviour according to the driver’s selection: Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficient (a new energy-efficiency mode introduced on the Giulia) and, naturally, Racing mode for high performance versions.
To obtain its extraordinary weight-to-power ratio Giulia combines ample engine performance with the extensive use of ultralight materials throughout. For example, carbon fibre was chosen for the prop shaft, bonnet, roof and seat frames, while aluminium was selected for the engine, suspension – including the front domes and front and rear frames – wings and doors. The rear cross-member is made of aluminium composite and plastic and the braking system uses aluminium callipers and carbon ceramic discs. Despite all this weight optimisation, the car also boasts the best torsional rigidity in its class, say Alfa, which helps not only optimise handling but also ensures better quality over time and improved acoustic comfort as well.
So, it’s established that Alfa have done it again in the style and design stakes but the proof will be when we start to get it on the road. I loved my 159 – one of the best looking cars ever – but it only took a few months for the gremlins to rear their ugly heads. I truly hope that this will be the car that properly saves the Alfa Romeo brand.