Drive: Fall in love with 2018 Alfa Romeo

On the broadest scale, sport sedans have come in four international flavors in recent years: from Japan, reliable to a fault but less spirited than those from Germany and Great Britain; and the United States, squarely between the Japanese and German/British benchmarks. And then there’s Italy. Now that Alfa Romeo is back in the picture, having roared back to the U.S. market in 2017, there’s a fourth flavor: seductive.

That’s the term Alfa Romeo uses liberally on its website. And indeed, we found the 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Lusso, with all-wheel drive, easy to fall in love with.

This midsize sedan checks all the boxes for a luxury sport sedan costing $40,000 to $50,000. It rides comfortably yet handles superbly; its interior is quiet, and style, inside and out, is impeccably Italian. The 4-cylinder turbocharged engine has big numbers and performance to match — 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. For those with more prosaic concerns, the Giulia delivers good fuel economy of 23 mpg city, 31 highway, though it does require premium unleaded gasoline.

In every respect, the Giulia is a delight to drive. It’s sneaky fast, as we learned when merging into traffic at Exit 8 onto Interstate 84 East in Bethel — accelerating to 81 mph before noticing (and reducing) our high speed.

Inside, the switchgear, materials and electronics speak the language of elegance. Everything seems to be exactly where it should be, and all of the little things are accounted for. All of our drivers were able to find positions where the pedals, steering wheel and seat angle were perfectly placed.

A few demerits must go out, as well. The back seat provides little knee room, and tall passengers will find their heads touch the ceiling. The trunk is on the small side, at 13 cubic feet. And there’s little storage space for small items in front.

2018 Alfa Romeo

The base rear-wheel-drive Giulia starts at $38,295. It has the same engine and transmission combination as our Giulia TI Lusso AWD, priced with options at $52,090. At the top end is the loaded, scary-fast Giulia Quadrifoglio, with a starting price of $73,995 — and a 505-horsepower turbocharged V-6 engine.

While the Giulia truly is an exciting car, its appeal is limited by two factors. First, Italian cars long ago acquired a reputation for unreliability among American drivers, and the first round of Giulias reportedly had some bugs, especially in the electronics, and fit and finish. (Our test car, with about 5,000 miles on its odometer, had just one creak and no rattles, and the electronics performed flawlessly.) Since Alfa Romeo sold more than 11,000 Giulias in the United States last year, U.S. drivers should know more about this model’s reliability soon. Meanwhile, there are just three Alfa Romeo dealers in Connecticut — in Danbury, Westport and Hartford.

The 2017 Giulia was rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2018 and 2019 models are fundamentally similar.

Major competitors include the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50.

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Lusso AWD

Price: $52,090

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline Four, 280 horsepower, 306 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 8-speed manual

Drive: all-wheel

Weight: 3,632 lb.

Suspension: front, double-wishbone with semi-virtual steering axle; rear, Alfa Link design with vertical rod link

Wheels: 18×8-in. Lusso aluminum

Tires: 225/45R18 all-season performance

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 13 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 15.3 gallons

Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.

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