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Why We Still Love Our Alfa Romeo Giulia a Year Later

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3 days ago Motor Trend Staff

a blue car parked in a parking lot: 2018-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Ti-Sport-rear-three-quarter.jpg
Some people worry the machines will rise up against us when they become self-aware, but I reckon they'll all be too self-conscious to try it. If my long-term 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia heard half the mean things folks said about it, it would never leave the garage. That would be a crying shame, because like all stereotypes, those nasty generalizations aren't really true. The Alfa's a great car, no matter what the internet says.

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Remember Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Or the way Han Solo treats droids? Ever stopped to think about the truly awful things you've said to your printer? Ignorance, for our machines, is truly bliss. Despite this, I often find myself complimenting the Giulia when I'm alone with it, just to prop up its self-esteem. I try not to be patronizing, because nobody likes that.

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What do people say? Mostly that same old line about Italian-car reliability. If the whole country of Italy wasn't so easygoing, it would have a complex, too. Fact of the matter, though, is my Giulia's been as good or better than the average car in our long-term fleet. In 12 months and 20,220 miles, the Giulia made four trips to a shop, two planned and two unplanned, but even that doesn't tell the whole story.

The first of the two unplanned stops was at the tire shop for a nail in the tread, hardly Alfa-specific. The second we initiated ourselves, not because there was anything wrong with the car, but because with 17,000 or so miles on the clock it didn't feel fair to put it in a head-to-head comparison with a brand spankin' new BMW 330i M Sport without at least a checkup. While giving it a once-over, the tech found the only mechanical issue of the car's life to date: a tiny coolant leak weeping from the turbocharger we were unaware of. A new O-ring on the coolant inlet is all it needed, but the tech did the coolant outlet O-ring, too, just to be safe, and the whole thing was covered under warranty.

a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff

The other two stops were for routine maintenance, the first just short of 10,000 miles and the second just over 20,000, both prompted by the car. The first set us back $197.35 for oil, filter, washer fluid, and oil and fuel "conditioners" the dealer slipped in. The second pit stop was a steeper $272.20 for just an oil and filter change, because dealer number two marks up a quart of oil 87 percent higher than dealer number one and the filter 97 percent. It also charges 69 percent more for labor, so let that all be a lesson to shop around if you can.

A recall was also performed free of charge during the first service to prevent backfiring, an issue we never experienced.

At $469.55, the maintenance wasn't cheap, but it still cost less than our 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro for the same service ($561.36 for two oil changes and inspections). On the other hand, our 2012 BMW 328i Sport didn't cost a dime in maintenance because BMW throws that in for free the first three years or 36,000 miles. Then again, that BMW's entire steering rack failed and had to be replaced at 14,500 miles.

All that time the Giulia spent not breaking down like everyone predicted, it was busy handling situations it wasn't intended for. This is a sport sedan through and through, and yet when I had to take a detour down a 3-mile Forest Service road around a washout and when I got caught in a late-season snowstorm, it behaved as though it were driving down fresh pavement on a beautiful spring day. The compliance in the suspension kept it riding nicely in the dirt, and the Pirelli P Zero summer tires didn't mind the cold.

a blue car parked in front of a building: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q2 Ti 4© Motor Trend Staff 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q2 Ti 4

It worked damn well in the situations it was intended for, too. Whether it was taking down that BMW or putting my mother-in-law who'd recently had a double knee replacement and my 6-foot-6 father-in-law in the back seat, the Giulia was a champ.

It wasn't perfect, though. The infotainment system developed a bug where it occasionally reset itself within the first minute or two of starting the car. It would show up, stick around for a few days, then disappear for months. It's kind of like an app crashing on your phone—annoying but quickly forgotten until it happens again. I also took issue with the programming of the parking sensors (too eager to turn off when you still need them) and the automatic engine stop/start system (too eager to activate when the interior is still too warm or too cold).

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Software isn't what won this thing Car of the Year, though. Faced with a decision between a technological marvel and a car that inspires you to drive, we took inspiration. Every time I mindlessly caressed the big, metal shift paddles, every time I turned the knob to Dynamic mode, every time I whipped around a freeway cloverleaf and dreamed about skipping work and going for a drive in the mountains instead, I remembered why cars like this win awards.

Read more on our long-term Alfa Romeo Giulia here:

Our Car
SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 21,926 mi
BASE PRICE $41,440
OPTIONS Sport RWD ($2,500: 19" dark alum wheels, all-season perf tires, alum interior accents, paddle shifters & pedals, yellow brake calipers, gloss black window surrounds, leather sport seats & steering wheel, power lumbar/manual thigh support, F/R sport fascias); Driver Assist Dynamic Plus ($1,500: adaptive cruise control with stop, auto high beams, fwd collision/lane-departure warnings, infrared windshield); Dual Pane sunroof ($1,350); Sport Performance ($1,200: active suspension, limited-slip differential); Leather dash and door uppers ($995); Harman Kardon premium audio ($900); Driver Assist Static ($650: auto-dimming mirrors; blind-spot & cross-path detection); Blue metallic paint ($600); 19" bright alum wheels ($500)
PRICE AS TESTED $51,356
AVG ECON/CO2 24.1 mpg/0.80 lb/mi
PROBLEM AREAS None
MAINTENANCE COST $470 (2 x oil change, inspection,etc. )
NORMAL-WEAR COST $0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $29,600 (57%)
RECALLS 1: Reprogram PCM software to quell backfiring and overheating catalytic converter
*IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q2 Ti (Sport RWD)
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head
VALVETRAIN SOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 121.6 cu in/1,993 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.0:1
POWER (SAE NET) 280 hp @ 5,200 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 306 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
REDLINE 5,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 12.9 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.15:1/2.02:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 11.8:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.4
BRAKES, F; R 13.0-in vented disc; 12.5-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS 8.0 x 19-in cast aluminum
TIRES 225/40R19 89W; 255/35R19 92W Pirelli P Zero AR
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 111.0 in
TRACK, F/R 61.3/64.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.6 x 73.7 x 56.5 in
TURNING CIRCLE 35.4 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,600 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 50/50%
SEATING CAPACITY 5
HEADROOM, F/R 38.6/37.6 in
LEGROOM, F/R 42.4/35.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 56.1/53.6 in
CARGO VOLUME 13.4 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.7 sec
0-40 2.6
0-50 3.8
0-60 5.2
0-70 6.8
0-80 8.6
0-90 10.9
0-100 13.6
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.7
QUARTER MILE 13.8 sec @ 100.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.91 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.6 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,600 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $41,440
PRICE AS TESTED $51,635
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/Unlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY 15.3 gal
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 23.1/30.1/25.8 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 24/33/27 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 140/102 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.71 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium
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