ALFA ROMEO GUILIA

ALFA ROMEO GI­U­LIA 2.0T

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - { TEXT: BERNARD HELLBERG | IM­AGES © RYAN AB­BOTT }

THE NAME ALFA ROMEO HAS A CER­TAIN RO­MAN­TIC RING TO IT. WITH NU­MER­OUS FOR­MULA 1 TI­TLES TO ITS CREDIT, IT’S LIT­TLE WON­DER THAT THE NAME EVOKES SO MANY POW­ER­FUL MEM­O­RIES OF PAST GLORY DAYS ON RACE­TRACKS AROUND THE WORLD. PAST GLORY DAYS THAT MAY BE ON THE RE­TURN WITH THE IN­TRO­DUC­TION OF THE GI­U­LIA 2.0T.

Our test car, the very lat­est (and very red) Gi­u­lia 2.0t, was launched to much ac­claim in our coun­try ear­lier this year and achieved dou­ble dig­its in the Naamsa sales fig­ures for July. Ini­tial im­pres­sions were re­mark­ably pos­i­tive in terms of build qual­ity, supremely com­fort­able sports seats, and an in­te­rior that is stylish and uniquely Ital­ian – apart from the overly large pad­dle shifters be­hind the steer­ing wheel, which is it­self a work of art.

THE POWER

The top-of-the-range 2-litre en­gine is turbo-en­hanced and gen­er­ates 147 kW at 5,000 r/min – rather un­usual when con­sid­er­ing that this en­gine’s red­line starts at 5,500, whereas most modern en­gines don’t run out of breath be­fore 6,500 r/ min. There’s a very good rea­son why the Guilia’s ac­cel­er­a­tion is so im­pres­sive though: the 330 Nm of torque which be­comes avail­able at only 1,750 r/min.

The gear­box is a beau­ti­fully bal­anced unit which is noted for its ac­cel­er­a­tion through the smooth-shift­ing eight speeds. In con­trast to many man­u­fac­tur­ers who go shop­ping for gear­boxes in such ex­otic des­ti­na­tions as Friedrichshafen in south­ern Ger­many, this

ex­cel­lent unit is a true Ital­ian model and gets the job done in style, with the driver re­tain­ing the op­tion of man­ual shift­ing by means of the pad­dles.

LET’S GO IN­SIDE

There’s a cer­tain sense of oc­ca­sion when get­ting into an Alfa Romeo, and the Gi­u­lia 2.0t is no ex­cep­tion. Find­ing that elu­sive per­fect driv­ing po­si­tion is effortless, with the sports seats – cov­ered in top qual­ity leather (and em­bossed with the Alfa Romeo em­blem) – adding to the over­all im­pres­sion of qual­ity, and with the (op­tional) Sound The­atre by Har­man Kar­don for that con­cert-hall ef­fect. No fewer than 14 speak­ers pro­vide a sur­round-sound ef­fect boosted by 900 W of su­pe­rior per­for­mance. This is just as well, since the en­gine at start-up sounded rather gruff – leav­ing me won­der­ing whether a diesel ver­sion had been sneaked into the me­dia fleet.

LOOKS & SAFETY

Like all Al­fas, the Gi­u­lia has fairly bold styling with a slop­ing nose-down de­sign to em­pha­sise its sports sedan image. Viewed from the front, it’s a pure Alfa, right down to the slightly ridicu­lous po­si­tion­ing of the front num­ber plate.

At its ask­ing price of R695,000, buy­ers will cer­tainly de­mand – and get – an ex­tremely safe sports sedan with a full five-star EuroNCAP rat­ing and on­board elec­tron­ics, ac­tive sus­pen­sion, and four enor­mous disc brakes. Even the rub­ber – Ger­man­made Goodyear Ea­gle F1 255/40R18 – pro­vides lev­els of grip that sets this rear wheel-drive sports sedan apart from the herd.

FI­NAL SAY

It may not be the cheap­est in its class, with the Teutonic Triplets (Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz) en­joy­ing a firm grip on the mar­ket, but Alfa Romeo now has a wor­thy al­ter­na­tive in place.The build qual­ity is be­yond re­proach, the per­for­mance is su­perla­tive, com­fort and ad­e­quate legroom for four adults is a given, and there’s an enor­mous lug­gage com­part­ment. From the LED head­lamps and the ex­tremely sen­si­tive and di­rect steer­ing, to the fab­u­lous road-hold­ing and the dis­tinct feel­ing that, at last, Alfa Romeo has man­aged to get it spot on, this is the type of ve­hi­cle that I would love to take on a high-speed (where pos­si­ble) dash from Pre­to­ria to Cape Town in a day – and still ar­rive fresh and alert. It comes highly rec­om­mended.

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