Franschhoek, Western Cape – This area is said to have some of the world’s finest driving roads, so it’s an appropriate, if ambitious, setting for the launch of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, the car with which Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is hoping to rewrite the dynamic handling book for D segment sedans.
On paper it ticks all the right boxes, with high-revving engines claiming big performance numbers, perfect weight distribution, ultra-direct 11.8:1 steering, sophisticated running gear, an impressive power-to-weight ratio and, most important of all, rear-wheel drive.
The Giulia comes to South Africa this week in a five-strong line-up, the first four with an all-new two-litre turbopetrol four, rated for 147kW at 5000 revs and 330Nm at 1750rpm, thanks to MultiAir electro-hydraulic valves and a two-in-one turbo set-up. The flagship QV, however, wields a Ferrari-inspired 2.9-litre all-aluminium twin-turbo petrol V6, for which Alfa claims some very impressive numbers, such as 375kW and 600Nm, 0-100kmh in 3.9 seconds and 307km/h flat out.
All Giulias come with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard and an integrated braking system that combines electronic stability control with a traditional servo for impressive initial bite and reduced pedal vibration, while the QV boasts a double-clutch differential that controls torque delivery individually to each rear wheel, so it doesn’t need invasive selective braking to control wheelspin.
Four trim levels
The flight deck is built around the driver, with all the main controls - including the start button - built into the steering wheel, with just two simple knobs for controlling drive modes and the infotainment system.
The 22cm 3D navigation system - developed in collaboration with Magneti Marelli - is controlled by a rotary pad, and has advanced voice recognition for complete connectivity with smartphones and tablets using Apple iOS and Android operating systems. Its navigation function, with high-resolution 3D maps, can even be used without the GPS signal via dead reckoning technology, allows TomTom map updates via USB and displays analyses of your driving style and drive mode.
An optional 14 speaker, 12 channel 900W Harman Kardon sound theatre system - a first for Alfa Romeo - uses Logic 7 technology to produce a surround sound effect.
The light stuff
The base Giulia comes with cloth or (optional) leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, idle stop and 16 alloy rims.
The Giulia Super adds mixed fabric and leather trim in black, black and tan or red, adaptive cruise control with autonomous braking, paddle shift, dual tailpipes, tinted windows, and 17 inch rims.
The top two-litre Giulia is the Super with Stile Pack, which includes 18 inch rims, full leather trim in black, red or tan, a sports steering wheel, aluminium inserts on the dashboard, central console and door panels, as well as Uconnect 8.4 CD/DVD/MP3/Nav, xenon headlights, electrically adjustable heated front seats, and genuine oak or walnut inserts on the dashboard, central tunnel and door panels.
The QV (Quadrafolio Verde) boasts 19 inch alloys, comes with your choice of three leather and alcantara combinations - well as optional Sparco carbon-fibre seat shells - and an active front splitter to manage downforce for higher performance and better grip at high speed.
It also has carbon-fibre bonnet, roof, front splitter and rear body inserts, aluminium doors and wheel arches, and optional carbon ceramic discs, all of which bring its dry weight down to 1524kg for a power-to-weight ratio of 216kW per ton.
Giulia - R555 000
Giulia Super - R625 000
Giulia Super with Stile Pack - R695 000
Giulia Quadrafolio Verde - R1 400 000
Prices include a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a six-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.