Briefly, slightly more engine noise, better handling, better steering (best in class), slightly worse ride, quality of cabin materials not so good (they say the A4 is the benchmark in that respect), in summary a real contender in the premium medium-size market.
That the numerous Alfisti will love the Giulia , it was already clear when it was announced that she would come with rear-wheel drive . But the new sedan offers a lot more . With the powerful diesel engine and a precise , agile chassis it is a real alternative in the premium middle class . Something pent-up demand , there is still in the processing and the quality of materials , at least compared with the Audi A4 . But in these disciplines already the recognized benchmark . Nor are the Alfa fans disturb the still scarce space , for it is important that the heart of the brand still beats . This is of after Giulia debut no doubt .
I'm always amazed at how Google Translate mangles German so badly. This is my translation (native English speaker with okay German)
"The new Giulia really has it" It looks sharp, the Giulia. A comparison with the Audi A4 should show what the new Alfa sedan has really got.
Lovers sometimes must wait a long time - and, hardly surprisingly, it was so with Giulia before she was shown to the Alfa fans. First, she made a standing debut at the IAA [Frankfurt], then – much later than expected - the bear-like Quadrifoglio was allowed to be driven. And now, it's here: the new sedan from Alfa Romeo, which we friends of the brand have waited for since 1978, when the Giulietta with transaxle rear axle replaced the classic Giulia that had been built since 1962.
An Alfa Romeo Giulia diesel for our first comparison
The man at Alfa Romeo asks: "which do you want?". He means the color. We say red: Alfa is among the cars that are still allowed to be red. And the Audi A4 that we brought for our first comparison is also red, so as not to seem too bland next to the Giulia. Both have diesel engines (the gasoline Giulias would have had us waiting even longer): the Alfa with the new 2.2-litre and 180 PS; the 2.0 TDI in the Audi making 190 PS.
On board, and with door shut, the key lands in the cubby-hole: a Start button is located below the left steering wheel spoke, and it's not just this that looks a little Ferrari-like. The diesel rumbles into life, a little more present than one is used to from the Audi A4, but then, it is an Alfa after all. The area around the Fiat Group site at Balocco where we first meet the Giulia is little known for its scenic beauty, rather for flat land, rice fields, rainy springtimes and also as the workplace of Amedeo Avogadro, famed for his eponymous Constant. The rain clouds hang over the mountains to the North like captive balloons, so we keep to the lowlands with the new Giulia and the A4,introduced last year - there is so much to experience.
Trim level with the traditional "Super" name
Our Red Giulia has the six-speed manual transmission, a combination that will be ordered most often, and certainly so on the German market. It starts from 37,400 euros on the price list, our trim level carries the traditional "Super" name. For 2,250 euros more, the Giulia comes with eight-speed automatic transmission. The Red A4 is slightly more expensive, at 38.550 euro; or with S tronic - as in this driving comparison – from 40.850 euro. No major differences in the facilities: the Giulia is reasonably well appointed in Super, with automatic climate control, parking sensors, 17-inch alloys and fabric/leather seat covers. This is similar to the A4, with a few exceptions; for example, parking beepers and the alloys are extras.
Back to the Giulia, because after all we want to know how she drives: on the country roads, between fields and mountain slopes the 180-HP diesel engine proves itself as well-matched, it hangs well on the accelerator, the Alfa easily passing the various Fiat and Iveco vans, sounds in a little more rugged than the diesel in the Audi. That said, the difference is probably only noticeable in direct comparison. The description fits the closely-spaced six speed gearbox, whose highest speed is still not too long for "A-Road" use. The gearshift changes smoothly and with short throw. Similarly harmonious is the collaboration between TDI and S-tronic in the A4: spontaneous, jerk-free changes, proper gradation - there's little to find fault.
Alfa Romeo Giulia more agile than the Audi A4
A few curves can be found here, and also because we are heading, in spite of the rain clouds, towards the mountains. In second and third gear, the Alfa grabs everything between the hairpin and fast bends, the car swings through the bends lightly and flowingly. Even with slightly damp asphalt, traction problems are never unfixable and you just keep working through them until the ESP system registers with a flickering light.
Not quite so fluid is the A4. Its tendency to understeer is noticeable, and especially in wet sweeping curves, the front wheels sometimes lose their countenance. Hardly a problem, as the traction control takes care of it, but it doesn't feel beautiful.
The Giulia has the most direct control in the market segment of the premium mid-size sedans, Alfa says. Maybe it answers almost a little too hastily from the middle steering position, but feedback and precision are in perfect condition. Unlike the steering in the A4, which not so exact and acts without communication. Thus, during fast cornering, there's a sense of needing to handle the steering wheel more firmly than in the Alfa which springs and light-footedly prances through the bends.
The Giulia thrilled
Up on the mountain, there is a village - that's how it is in Italy. In the market square next to the church, they sell vegetables, cheese and salami of all kinds. The two red cars provide equal attention, the audience is nevertheless well-informed, despite retirement. "La nuova Giulia", the Alfa is immediately recognised and admired, the Audi registers a nod of recognition.
Is that the new 2.2-litre diesel, an older gentleman wants to know. Yes, we reply, with 180 cavalli. "Bellissima", responds the friendly Italian and, before departing with a little box of soup-greens and Zucchini, remarks that Alfa really build the most beautiful cars. Lorenzo Ramaciotti, Chief Head of design at FIAT for Giulia, was a little more florid in his expression, and famously said the design of the Giulia was soft, like a cloud that does not reveal the power it holds within it. Hard to imagine Audi Chief Marc Licht saying something like this about the A4, but you can note that the Audi sedan looks elegant and harmonious.
A4 is sprung slightly firmer
On the way back towards Balocco we find us a few rural roads for this test, which Giulia also completed with flying colors. We were not expecting a palanquin, but although the active suspension with variable dampers is still not available and the test car uses conventional technology, it rolls very smoothly over the access paths between the rice fields. The Audi was slightly smoother here, softly ironing down irregularities and rebounding more finely, but there is not a difference in class.
Just enough time remains to devote ourselves to the information and entertainment service. It follows the German model, with a rotary press control, but doesn't quite reach the same clarity of the menu structure in this. Material and workmanship is also a discernible distance from the A4: material application and controls in the Audi are simply better. Not a surprising revelation, and one which will not disturb Alfa-lovers, for whom the long wait was worth it."
It was already clear that the many Alfisti were going to love the Giulia when it was announced that it would come with rear-wheel drive. But the new sedan offers much more. With its powerful diesel engine, and precise, agile chassis, it is a true alternative in the premium mid-size. There remains some catching up to do in terms of assembly and material quality, at least when compared with the Audi A4 - but that [car] is the recognised benchmark in these disciplines. Nor will the Alfa-fans be worried about the slightly smaller interior space; for them it is important that the brand's heart still beats. Of this, after the Giulia debut, there can be no more doubt."