Dedicated readers closely following my career (Hi, Mom! Thanks for reading, Grandpa!) will no doubt recall I recently returned our previous Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Normally, trading a hatchback for a sedan would be no cause for commotion; but our latest Car of the Year and my new assignment, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia, is about as different from the Bolt in concept and execution as you can get.
One of the prevailing arguments in favor of the Giulia in our Car of the Year deliberations was the way it makes you feel. Most cars on the market check boxes, and some make an inordinate amount of practical, logical sense, but not many truly make you smile just going down the highway. As enthusiasts, that speaks to us.
Naturally, then, you might expect we’d order up a rip-snortin’ Giulia Quadrifoglio for our yearlong test. Let’s be real, though: The Quadrifoglio will account for a small percentage of Giulia sales no matter how good it is. You’re far better served with a report on the model most people will buy. Oh, the sacrifices we make for you.
Don’t feel too sorry for me, though. The Giulia Ti Sport Q2 is no Sunday driver. Its 280-hp turbocharged inline-four puffs out a healthy 306 lb-ft of torque, its eight-speed automatic is geared for performance and convincingly mimics the behavior of a twin-clutch transmission, and its Giorgio chassis is designed for cornering first, with comfort running a surprisingly close second. Previous tests have seen it run as quickly as 5.1 seconds to 60 mph, competitive with some six-cylinder cars. On the other side of the coin, 24/33/27 mpg (city/highway/combined) ain’t nothing to shake a stick at, either.
As you’ve deduced, the Ti Sport Q2 is not the base-model Giulia, but rather the second-sportiest model you can buy after the Quadrifoglio. This jumps the base price a few thousand dollars, but it’s money well spent. In addition to standardizing a number of options—like the larger infotainment screen, fitting sport-look bumpers, and fancier wheels with performance all-season tires—it unlocks exciting options like a mechanical limited-slip differential and active dampers, which we of course got. That Ti Sport Performance Package set us back a totally reasonable $1,200, and to the total we also added 19-inch wheels, the premium stereo, a sunroof, leather trim, and the Ti-exclusive Misano Blue Metallic paint.
We also specced a few other niceties, like the two driver-assistance packages, which got us blind-spot monitoring, forward collision and lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, auto-dimming mirrors all around, and automatic high-beams. On the combo functional and furtive front, we popped for the 22U package, which includes leather sport seats with adjustable bolsters and thigh support, aluminum interior trim, gloss black exterior window trim, shiny pedals and paddles, and a sport steering wheel wrapped in leather. Finally, we added yellow brake calipers with “Alfa Romeo” printed on them, because why not?
Tallied up, our little spending spree added a little over $10,000 to the price tag, bringing it up from $41,440 for a Ti Sport Q2 to $51,635 as tested. That’s not an insignificant amount of money, but it’s dead-on competitive with similarly optioned luxury European sport sedans.
We knew naming the Alfa Romeo Giulia Car of the Year would be controversial. Everyone who knows anything about cars seems to have an opinion of Alfa, its cars, and its business plan. We’ve heard all the jokes about Italian cars. Despite all that, we went with our gut and picked the car that, in any trim level, reminded us why we love driving every time we got near it. Now it has a year to demonstrate the rest.
|2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport RWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$51,635|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/280-hp/306-lb-ft turbo SOHC 16-valve I-4|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.6 x 73.7 x 56.5 in|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||24/33/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||140/102 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.71 lb/mile|