Test Drive Notes Library
- Looks. The Italians have a well-earned reputation for great styling. Except when they don’t (we’re looking at you Fiat 500L). The Alfa Guilia is a great looking car. Alfa really nailed the styling. You’re gonna look good in your Alfa Giulia.
- Inside, too. The impressive Italian styling continues inside the Giulia. While the milieu is dark, masculine and den-like (OK, cozy), everything looks stylish. One nice touch, in our humble opinion, is that the infotainment screen is entirely built into the dashboard. Most cars we drive these days plop a touchscreen in the middle of everything, making it look like it was a last minute decision (Oh, $%#*, we forgot to add the screen!). Alfa’s 9-inch screen is hidden behind the dark, smooth plastic covering the dashboard, until it lights up. It’s a good look, and improves the looks of the whole interior.
- Handling. Like Alfas of yore, the Giulia is fun to drive. Handling is sporty, with just enough comfort to make it easy to live with day to day.
- Manual mode. The Giulia has an automatic transmission with a manual mode option. That allows you to shift gears and play with the sound of Alfa’s engine. Yes, a car is just a means of transportation. But if you’re buying an Alfa, it’s also a toy. And you’ll want to be able to go vroom vroom. You can in the Giulia.
- Optional safety systems. For about $2,000 in options packages, you can get all the stuff you need. Blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. Bonus: You also get adaptive cruise control that will follow the speed of the cars in front of you and change speeds as necessary—all the way to a full stop.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Transmission. We were disappointed in the refinement of the 8-speed automatic transmission. It was especially jerky at low speeds. We’re not sure if it was the First to Second shift, or the Second to Third shift, but one of them was constantly noticeable and annoying. Not luxury-car quality. No problems at higher speeds.
- Ignition button on wheel. This is a styling gimmick, and it’s an inconvenience to the owner. The start-stop button is on the steering wheel itself. While you can get used to looking for it there, the design failure here is that depending on how you park the car and where the wheel is turned, the button is in a different location every time you look for it. I think we can all agree that we want our ignition button to stay in the same place.
- Annoying park sensors. We had an ongoing battle with the Giulia’s parking sensors. Those are the sensors that beep at you when you get too close to another car. The Giulia’s seemed overly sensitive to us, often firing when we were in normal driving situations, like at traffic light. Also, even after you put the car in Park, the sensors continue to scream at you. That’s a bug. You can turn them off, but it’d be better if they were just calibrated better.
- Stop-start jarring. The Giulia has an automatic stop-start system that shuts off the engine when you come to a stop to save fuel. Some manufacturers are better than others at making these things smooth. Alfa’s system is intrusive. You can turn it off with a button on the dashboard (and we did), but you have to do it each time you drive the car.
- Menus. While the screen design gets a thumbs up, the ergonomics of the menu system gets a thumbs sideways from us. It took quite an effort just to change the radio station. And when Car Talk is on, you need to be able to do that quickly!
- Shifter weirdness. During parking and three-point turn situations, we kept winding up in Neutral by accident. We finally figured out that you have press the button on the side of the shifter, even to go from Reverse back to Drive. That’s unusual. We got used to it, but not before holding up some traffic.
- Blind spot warning. The Giulia has blind spot monitoring, which is great. But the warning lights on the side view mirrors are too subtle. This is a frequently used collision-avoidance system, and its communication with the driver should be more prominent.
Get the Car Talk Newsletter