New Alfa Romeo Giulia 2023 review

The Alfa Romeo Giulia compact exec gets style and tech updates, and is still great to drive

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    The Giulia remains a joy to drive, and although the visual updates have added an extra dose of style, it’s still the car’s dynamic side that dominates the experience. The addition of a digital dash inside is certainly welcome, but the Alfa’s infotainment is sub-standard in an ultra-competitive class that’s packed with newer, more high-tech models. 

    There’s been an all-new BMW 3 Series that has subsequently been updated since the Alfa Romeo Giulia went on sale back in 2016. And while the Giulia has been treated to a few updates here and there, these are arguably the biggest yet.

    But this new-for-2023 car is still based on the same Giorgio platform, and still uses the Italian firm’s raspy 276bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine in this Competizione model (the trim dictates the powertrain in the Giulia line-up). It’s linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that drives all four wheels as part of Alfa’s Q4 system on the example we’re driving. But we’ll only get the rear-drive car in the UK, and the figures we quote in our spec panel are for that model.

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    • Instead, the bigger updates centre on style and tech, with the already-handsome Giulia’s design subtly enhanced with new full matrix LED headlights that bring it into line with the firm’s Tonale SUV. There are also gently revised rear-light clusters.

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      Inside, there are more tweaks, with the Giulia finally receiving a digital dashboard. It’s a 12.3-inch unit and offers configurable modes that include Evolve, Relaxed and Heritage. The former sees the speedo and rev counter sit either side of a central readout, Relaxed mode dials back the level of information on offer for a simpler look, while Heritage apes cars from the marque’s back catalogue with a retro-inspired design for the instruments. It’s a piece of tech that improves the Giulia, but only brings it up to a level that its rivals were offering years ago.

      The central 8.8-inch infotainment still feels outdated, so it might be best to use the Giulia’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, depending on your device.

      But the Alfa’s cabin still feels sporty and there is a good-quality feel to most of the materials used inside, including the lovely aluminium shift paddles that invite you to take manual control of the transmission.

      This is where the Alfa excels, because it’s as dynamic as ever. While the Q4 four-wheel-drive car we’ve tested here sprints from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, the rear-drive-only model that’ll come to the UK will crack the same challenge in 5.7 seconds, so it’s quick enough. The engine revs sweetly, too, propelling the Giulia along quickly enough and delivering good flexibility, accompanied by an enjoyable soundtrack.

      Competizione models feature adaptive dampers which can be softened off to deliver extra comfort, and the Giulia’s ride
      is pleasant; that’s always been a solid trait of Alfa’s compact executive saloon.

      In the sportier setting, the car’s body control is good, and the well contoured but not-too-snug sports seats hold you in place well, given the forces the chassis can generate. As ever, the fast, precise steering is a fine match for the set-up, and the Giulia feels genuinely fun to drive, with great agility, thanks to the relatively low kerbweight of 1,545kg (1,429kg for the RWD car) that’s achieved by the use of an aluminium bonnet, doors and front wings.

      This top-spec Competizione also features exclusive matt-grey paint, red brake calipers and 19-inch alloy wheels in a dark finish.

      Along with the new digital dash and retained central screen inside, there’s a Harman Kardon stereo, wireless phone charging, all-round parking sensors, heated and electrically adjustable seats, plenty of advanced driver assistance and safety tech, a rear-view camera and generally all of the equipment you’d expect from a top-spec car in this class. But the Giulia Competizione costs £52,199, and for similar money in Audi’s A4 range you can get a proper hot six-cylinder S model, even though it’s a diesel.

      The Giulia’s body unchanged, so space in the rear is still acceptable but not the best in the class, just as with the 480-litre boot.

      Model:Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T Competizione
      Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
      Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive 
      0-62mph:5.7 seconds
      Top speed:149mph
      On sale:Now

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