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Driven: Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.

Driven: Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione
Alfa gives us another version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged Giulia with the Competizione, timed for the final facelift of the model.

   



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2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione

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Alfa Romeo, keen to not just chuck its brilliant - if flawed, due to its inability to accept electrification - 'Giorgio' platform in the bin without wringing as much from it as possible beforehand, gives the wonderful Giulia saloon mildly refreshed looks and yet another model using the 280hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. But is the Competizione the new Giulia of choice, or even the one you should be searching out in a few years' time on the used market?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione
Price: Giulia from 39,995 (as of Jan 2024), Competizione from 52,199
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive with Q2 limited-slip differential
Power: 280hp at 5,250rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-2,250rpm
Emissions: 162/km
Economy: 39.2mpg
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Top speed: 149mph
Boot space: 480 litres

Styling

All 2023 model year-onwards Giulias basically get new lights. No, seriously; that's about all that's changed. OK, the lower front grilles have a different mesh finish, but in reality what you're looking for here is those triple-light signatures at the front, lifted directly from the Italian company's newest product, the Tonale SUV - and inspired, of course, by the 'Il Mostro' SZ and RZ models of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Thankfully, as the Giulia is ageing beautifully, these tweaks - along with darker-smoked and subtly revised rear clusters - keep it in its rightful position as the most attractive three-box saloon in its class. For the Competizione, it's based on the Veloce, with a few model-specific touches to elevate it above the Giulia 'Speed'. Like a set of 21-inch five-hole alloys, red-painted brake callipers, 'Competizione' badges on the front wings, and the option of bespoke Moon Light Grey matte paintwork. All told, then, this is like a discreetly airbrushed digital image of the previous Giulias, rather than a completely AI-generated and unrealistic bodge job.

Interior

Same news in the Giulia Competizione's cabin, where the plush fixtures and fittings of the 2020 model year updates - when the Alfa saloon finally got an interior without sharp plastic edges and laughable interface graphics - carry over. A more digitised instrument cluster, again a feature lifted from the smaller and newer Tonale, marks out the 2023MY cars like this one, but beyond that the Competizione's only changes are extended leather on the dashboard, complete with red contrast stitching, with the 'Competizione' legend inscribed on the front seats' head restraints. Buyers also enjoy an uprated Harman Kardon sound system and privacy glass in this one-down-from-flagship Giulia.

Practicality

As saloons go, the Alfa Giulia is fine. Its rear-seat space is not the most commodious these days but it's at least acceptable, while a 480-litre boot puts it on a par with the main Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series rivals. Of course, we'll always lament the Italian company's decision not to make a Sportwagon estate version of the Giulia - as a Q4 Quadrifoglio, such a car would have been bordering on perfection if we could spec it in Montreal Green with a tan leather interior - but in general the four-door is OK for general cabin usability and storage compartments.

Performance

This 2.0-litre engine has been in service in the Giulia now since the start of the Type 952's era in 2016. It initially came with 200hp, with the 280hp derivative following soon after in order to bridge the huge power gap between the regular range of Giulias and the monster Quadrifoglio range-topper, with its 510hp 2.9-litre biturbo V6.

Thus, we're pretty familiar with this four-pot engine now and so its application in the Competizione feels no different to a Veloce or a Sprint. Which is no bad thing - this is a smooth and yet zesty, rev-hungry powerplant. It's not the most tuneful four-cylinder unit in the world, but it has enough snarl and top-end vivacity to it that you won't really mind its lack of aural charm too much.

Coupled to an excellent eight-speed ZF gearbox that is controlled, still, by the best paddle shifters in the automotive industry bar none, driving the Giulia Competizione is a delight. If you get to try them both, you wouldn't often lament the output deficit the Comp has compared to the Quadri, in most daily driving situations. While the V6 Alfa obviously has the noise and the tremendous theatre, there's more than enough midrange punch and eager responsiveness to the 2.0-litre engine to make it a joy for regular use; or, in other words, it has more-than-ample performance for public-roads requirements. Also, you're likely to regularly achieve 35-40mpg out of the Competizione, if you drive it sensibly, whereas those sorts of fuel returns are a pipe dream for the Quadrifoglio.

Ride & Handling

Perhaps the biggest single reason for opting for the Competizione, over and above either the Veloce or the entry-trim Sprint, is that it gains the Synaptic Dynamic Control (SDC) suspension as standard. This allows you to switch the dampers through two different settings of firmness, while leaving the car in whichever drive mode of Alfa's you prefer from its DNA switch.

However, as the 2.0-litre Giulias have always been excellent to drive, it's debatable what kind of an upgrade this SDC represents. In all honesty, the Competizione didn't feel appreciably sharper or more tuned-in to the surface than the last Veloce we drove; it's more likely the Q2 limited-slip diff, which is something the supposedly inferior Veloce does gain as standard, is what gives the Competizione its sparkling handling acuity.

Make no mistake, this is a brilliant sporting saloon to drive, with excellent steering, well-judged brakes, superb body control and a genuine feeling of rear-driven balance. But it's that last point which raises our main gripe about the Competizione - and, indeed, any Giulia barring the Quadrifoglio - in that you cannot fully disable the traction control systems. It's not that we think many owners would spend all their time doing massive great powerslides in the Alfa as a result, but just having the choice to switch the electronic nannies off from time to time and enjoy the Giulia's natural 50:50 balance would be nice. Shame that's denied to you, then.

Obviously, when you throttle back in the Competizione, it is as quiet and refined and comfortable to ride in as any other Giulia, despite its massive 'Teledial' 21s. Which is to say that it's very, very good in these regards, although you could argue the BMW 3 Series has achieved a harmonious blend of handling fun to rolling refinement to an even greater degree than the Alfa. Nevertheless, calling the Giulia Competizione a 'driver's car' does not feel disingenuous in the slightest - this thing is terrific to pilot.

Value

With the entry-level 2023MY Sprint originally priced at 43,199, with the Veloce starting from 47,699, then the additional 4,500 required to step up from there to the Competizione might look like a needless extra uplift, although the fitment of the SDC and the Harman Kardon accounts for much of that additional outlay. Still, at 52,199 for a Giulia fitted with the same 280hp four-pot motor as the base Sprint (which was reduced to 39,995 at the start of 2024 to shift the final Giulia units out of showroom doors), you might think the Competizione is a touch overpriced. Unless you're waiting for it to depreciate as a second-hand buy, of course, or you frame it against the fact that a brand-new Quadrifoglio would set you back at least 78,195 these days. Which is a lot for a seven-year-old design, isn't it? No matter how good the 510hp V6 model is.

Verdict

Another lovely yet possibly pointless addition to a model range which deserves far more showroom success than it has garnered so far, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione is a fantastic compact sports saloon. Aside from its draconian traction control overlord, an interior which - while pleasant enough and a huge improvement over the earliest 2016 models - isn't quite up to the class-leading standards, and a price tag a chunky 9,000 more than a Sprint with the same engine, everything else about the Giulia Competizione is wonderful. It's therefore quite sad that it'll probably just get overlooked as 'yet another short-lived Alfa special edition', instead of people opting for it over and above the default BMW M340i.



Matt Robinson - 16 Jan 2024



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2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.

2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione. Image by Alfa Romeo/Matt Robinson.








 

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