2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD Review — Rolling the Dice in Your Commute (**************************************************).
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD(***********).
|()()()2.0-liter turbocharged inline four, SOHC (280 horsepower @ 5,200 Utility; 306 lb-ft @ 2000 Utility) |
Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel disk
23 town / 31 street / 26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
10.5 city / 7.7 highway / 9.2 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
22.8 mpg [10.3 L/100km] (Observed)
Base Price: $42,990 (U.S.) / $54,890 (Canada)
As Tested: $51,490 (U.S.) / $62,540 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the USA and $1,895 for destination and A/C tax in Canada
There’s a collection of curves on my route home which may be an absolute joy when traffic is minimal. Beyond a kink on a rise, the road drops fifty feet in a right curve away. For a few moments, I forget the previous nine hours — although it is not a quarter of a mile.
While my normal vehicle for this road is my trusty minivan, a suitable driver’s car makes the route considerably more rewarding. A drive can make me ignore the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the automobile beneath me beyond making me disregard the strain of a day at the office.
Quirks and idiosyncrasies — in roughly equal measure with solid driving dynamics — have been the hallmarks of virtually every Alfa Romeo since at least the Truman administration, meaning the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti has a lot of heritage to live up to. Now that Chrysler is part of the Alfa Romeo parentage, will the Imported From Detroit vibe reflect in this sports sedan that is imported? Or will the Giulia remain, for worse or better, a Italian?
Ace in the Hole
I’ll admit to being disappointed when I realized the Alfa Romeo being delivered was not the twin-turbo V6-powered Quadrifoglio, but the tame, four cylinder-equipped Giulia Ti. Tame might not be the ideal word, but however, because the base engine 280 horsepower shames other non invasive sports sedans.
()BMW can just muster 180 horses by the 2.0-liter turbo at the 320I, and also 248 hp in exactly the same four at the 330i. Audi’s A4 manages 190 hp in base trim, and also 252 hp with the uprated four-cylinder. Mercedes-Benz provides 241 horsepower at the C300, equivalent to the energy out of Lexus’ IS 200t. Infiniti? 208 hp from the Q50.) Just Cadillac strategies the Italian together with all the 271 hp produced by the ATS’s turbo 2.0-liter. ()The nature of the turbocharged four-cylinder is similar to many Alfa Romeo engines I’ve experienced. Rather than a sonorous sweep till some redline, the torquey engine runs out of steam as the needle glides into the best, using a rev limiter cutting the pleasure in 6200 racket. Again, unlike any other Italians, the exhaust note is quite dull. ()
Alfa Romeo claims a 0-60 time of 5.1 seconds for the Giulia Ti — though I haven’t concluded whether that figure is for the rear-drive model( or the non drive car I examined. My instrumented testing (with a Racelogic Driftbox GPS timing program) led to constant 5.8-second 060 dashes — nevertheless fast, surely, although I would really like to try out the rear-drive model for comparison.
I was a little flummoxed by the “DNA” selector dial supporting the shift lever. While I’m accustomed to a drive mode selector, the D, N, and a nomenclature encouraged me to recall my 10th grade Latin classes for acronyms resembling the Italian language.
Imagine my embarrassment once I realized the modes are Dynamic, Normal, and All-weather.
Much of my driving, obviously, was spent tuned to the Dynamic mode, which holds gears until redline and lets you bounce off the rev limiter while utilizing the automatic transmission’s manual mode. On that note, the manual mode is just one of the few I’ve seen that shifts in the “proper” pattern — that is, forward to downshift, backward to upshift. It’s a motion for a transmission, and shows that FCA engineers did some homework to create the Giulia appeal.
Yeah, a suitable manual transmission would be better, but it’s difficult to justify an option that appeals only to maybe 20 enthusiasts who will actually purchase a car so equipped, together with scores of journalists (like me) who beg for it but refuse to lay down their own money.
When driving in Normal mode, shifts are as soft as you’d expect from any $50k near-luxury sedan. The Giulia works nicely as a commuter, since the suspension soaks up Ohio’s road imperfections admirably. Its seats proved reasonably comfortable, with adequate support and adjustability, though I’d have preferred a longer thigh bolster.
The kids were happy spending time in the rear seat, with no complaints — the high center tunnel helped keep the overly clingy eight-year-old on her side, away from her brooding older sister.
I dislike the start/stop system. My week with the Alfa Romeo was a particularly warm one, hovering near triple digits, though not as warm (118 degrees! ) as the car’s dash readout would have you believe.
I’m not convinced that the temp gauge is accurate. It is Ohio. #alfaromeogiulia
The Giulia’s restart process is unlike any I’ve experienced in a car with a fuel-saving start/stop system. Upon restart, the HVAC blower shuts off for a few seconds, which is unpleasant when attempting to combat radiant heat and a sun from a jet black sedan.
The parking assist is equally annoying. There are occasions when I’ll sit in the vehicle with the engine gathering my wits before subjecting myself to another day at work — running after parking, or negotiating a truce between tweens . When activated, the Giulia’s system emits a warning any time something comes near the front bumper — no matter if the transmission is in Park or not. Therefore, the Giulia chimes away annoyingly until I turn off the ignition or deactivate the system.
Which means I deactivated both the park assist and the start/stop every time that I started the vehicle. It is a shame both systems are so intrusive they can’t be used.
The infotainment system, likewise, isn’t great. It’s close, although it is not as bad as the hated generation iDrive. The knob requires clicks, pushes, and turns to control audio and navigation, but navigating the multiple layers of menus takes your eyes off the street for time. Thumb controls on the steering wheel help, but too many functions require the control knob.
Sound quality, on the other hand, is quite good with the optional Harmon Kardon audio system, though I found myself suffering through songs I’d rather not listen to simply because setting radio presets or SiriusXM stations was such a chore.
With Fiat Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect infotainment systems available from the corporate parts bin, I’m baffled why this system exists. Heck, even the old, low-resolution uConnect screen in my 2012 Town & Country performs more intuitively.
And, yeah, there are panel gap difficulties. See this hasty mobile phone pic of the gap between the fender, hood, and fascia.
Hold ’em, or Fold ’em?
I’ve always been one to read a whole lot about a excellent number of subjects. I’m told that before my parents were awake I head out to acquire the newspaper. After I was supposed to be asleep, so that I could read, I’d hide books. And I quickly graduated from Dr. Seuss to Road & Track, thus my appearance at this fine publication rather than some place like Feline Headwear Weekly.
I’d often seek out back issues of my favourite magazines, either by writing letters or stalking my neighborhood library. Most fascinating were new car reviews published in the ’60s and ’70s, which I assumed were an unvarnished assessment of vehicles from the great old days. I was amazed at the positive reviews that casually mentioned, in passing, the need to replace ignition points during testing, or “only” getting stranded once by some magnificent exotic.
As I marveled at the relative reliability exhibited by then-modern cars in the mid-1980s, I often wondered about the issues road test editors experienced that didn’t make it into print. As my dad had an MGB on jackstands in the garage I knew those problems first hand, but I knew that future writers wouldn’t have such experiences.
In 1984, though, I didn’t know Alfa Romeo would eventually leave the US market, only to return decades later with the Giulia. The writers of today get to go through the uncertainty. Past the start/stop funkiness, and the panel gaps, I didn’t experience any problems.
Maybe I was blessed, but no auto completely redeems its many quirks such as the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia does. Ten minutes on any two-lane had me grinning like an idiot. Four hours to southeastern Ohio’s epic backroads needed me contemplating on turning into a home, rolling the dice. I didn’t need to provide the Giulia backagain.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia isn’t a rational option. It’s the car that speaks to the gearhead within who needs to choose transportation that is respectable. It’s for the driver who needs just a little excitement from the uncertainty of whether you will escape the garage, or whether from the drive itself.
[Images: © 2017 Chris Tonn]
RelatedJuly 19, 2017