As a long-time Alfa Romeo fan, ownership of a classic example of Milan’s finest always seemed elusive, just like the opportunity to buy a new one. At least three times in my life I searched for an Alfa Romeo. My inability to find the right car, at the right time, and at the right price led me to temporary distractions with other marques. Until recently. Yes, I now drive a new Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States followed a long tortuous path. Alfas were coming, then they weren’t, then they were again, and then we waited. Rumors of their return began under Fiat’s partial ownership by General Motors, only to be canceled by an expensive corporate divorce. Fiat’s later acquisition of Chrysler opened the door, but it took a while to step through the threshold. A handful of sales of beautiful, if limited-use, cars like the 8C Competizione and 4C were just appetizers before the main course of Giulia sedans and Stelvio SUVs began reaching our shores in 2017, 22 years after the last sedans and Spiders left American showrooms.
Many drives in an Alfa 164 during my college years whet my appetite for Alfa sedans. After finishing graduate school, I worked on a project to help Alfa Romeo leadership learn about the American market in preparation for the marque’s return. Alas, that was 16 years ago, and I can only assume that those reports were lost somewhere deep in the bowels of Fiat Automotive headquarters in Turin. The memory of the rides around Balocco in 147s and 156s left a deep impression on me, nevertheless.
Recently I found myself in need of a new family car, but I live in Traverse City, Mich. For those of you unfamiliar with northern Michigan, we are 2½ hours from the nearest Alfa Romeo dealership. If I, as a long-term Alfisti and general automotive nut case, couldn’t be convinced to try the new Giulia, I reasoned, the brand should be totally lost to our continent. But two kids, a limited budget, and my rural abode gave me pause. That is, until I drove the Giulia and was convinced that any second choice would leave the Alfa haunting me once again. So I took the plunge.
Attractive lease terms helped satisfy my budgetary desires. My boys’ exuberance after seeing and riding in the car during a visit to Grand Rapids helped to satisfy my second concern—their excitement outweighed worries about tight back seats. The requisite second glances back at the car after I park it makes up for the uncertainty of the third. And I have to admit that having only Giulia in town feels pretty cool.
There is a smidge of rational goodness here, too: With a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive, my car is both fuel efficient and good in the snow. The 280 horsepower and Ferrari-esque flappy paddle shifters are just icing on the cake. And then there’s the red leather interior that only the Italians seem to be able to pull off without seeming contrived.
The Giulia makes me smile and represents a long-time dream fulfilled. In my short time driving it, I already love this car. Did I mention the practical fold-down rear seats?