Car Review: Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is quite easily the best handling executive saloon

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce

The luxury carmaker pushes Italian craftsmanship into the spotlight once again with its newest sedan

The Alfa Romeo Giulia (rival to the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and even the Volkswagen Arteon) is the best looking compact executive saloon on sale today.

And I will fight anyone who might disagree.

If nothing else, it’s not German, which means it’ll automatically stand out in a crowd.

But all this shouldn’t come as any surprise. Alfa Romeo, after all, has a fantastic track record of making gorgeous compact executive saloons – the Giulia immediate forebears, the 159, 156, and 155 all come to mind.

How Alfa Romeo styles such a long line of winners almost beggars belief, especially since the segment itself is incredibly prosaic. Up until recently, they represented the entry points to a luxury brand.

And I’ll also fight anyone that says the Alfa Romeo Giulia isn’t the best handling car in its segment. But don’t the Germans, what with their fancy new modular platforms enriched with exotic materials like high-strength steel and aluminium objectively handle better?

Well, perhaps. If you were to do it the German way and measure performance with sophisticated telemetry sensors and graphs.

Should you do it the Italian way, and measure performance by the silliness of the grin it plasters on your face, then the Alfa Romeo Giulia is the winner by a mile.

Unfortunately, it’s not something easily quantifiable with numbers, but I can tell you the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s effervescence is something else. While its segment rivals respond to being thrashed with a sort of thin-lipped stoicism, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is hoots and yells at you to go faster.

But if you’re thinking the Alfa Romeo Giulia is one of those cars that only makes sense when being flogged to within an inch of its life, you’d be wrong. The suspension is exceptionally supple without being woolly, and if you think about the back roads of the Giulia’s native Italy, you begin to understand why.

Man-sized potholes and roads that seem to have last seen repair around the time of Emperor Justinian litter the country. You see, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a product of a country where a sports saloon possessing both comfort and confidence is not a bonus, but a necessity.

I only drove the 280bhp Veloce variant, which left me wondering what the full-fat 510bhp Quadrifoglio is like. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce gets from zero to 100km/hr in 5.7 seconds which, in the modern sports saloon context is middling at best and the noise its four-cylinder motor makes isn’t exactly the sweetest, but those points are all redeemed by its chassis.

Is it quirky, though? As any Alfisti will tell you, learning your way around an Alfa Romeo’s quirks is one of the rites of ownership. For example, a clutch pedal with a non-linear throw, buttons with counter-intuitive placements or an engine that runs best during the vernal equinox.

With the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce, though, the only quirk I found was shift paddles that are the same length as the signal/wiper stalks. And the odd way its start-stop system pauses the air conditioning when starting up again. Or the strangely wobbly and flimsy rotary controller for the infotainment system.

And sure, its eight-speed gearbox does feel slushy and a little slow-witted. Then again, transmissions have never been one of Alfa Romeo’s strengths, and if nothing else, at least the ‘box in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is streets ahead of the abysmal dual-clutch one in the Mito.

That said, all these things aren’t deal-breakers. Sure, they’re mild annoyances, but broadly speaking, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce feels… normal. Now that’s something I never thought I’d say about an Alfa Romeo.

Is this real life?

Well, I really couldn’t say for certain, but it does lend some credence to the glossy brochure’s claims of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce being “a new era… new paradigm… new Alfa Romeo”.

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