2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione Review: A plenty sweet pot
Companies invest in building strong brands not because it’s fun, but because it pays off with loyal customers in the long term. The proof? Established luxury automakers don’t pile on big discounts or rely on high-pressure sales tactics. Sure, maybe Lexus’ “December to Remember” campaign includes a soft sell, but a cursory scan of luxury dealer websites is telling: The BMW 3 Series currently has one such enticement. We found one for the Lexus IS and two for the Audi A4. What of Alfa Romeo and the 2024 Giulia sedan? Five discounts are available, including $1000 to entice current owners of German marques to jump ship.
When those tactics don’t work, a swank limited-edition can at least generate some buzz, look good in commercials, and hopefully get people into the showroom. Enter the Giulia Competizione, new for 2024 and boasting acres of style you can’t get from a BMW, Lexus, or Audi. Most important is the hardware underneath, which may be dated but is arguably far more rewarding on the right roads.
You may recall that we previously track-tested the twin-turbocharged V-6 Giulia Quadrifoglio, but the Giulia Competizione is a more modest sports sedan that, according to Alfa’s website, nevertheless “bears the torch of the Quadrifoglio—fast, powerful and always ready for the next turn.”
Marketing word salads are always … entertaining. But in more digestible terms, think of the Giulia Competizoine as a loaded, limited-edition version of the Giulia Veloce. That means 280 hp and 306 lb-ft from a 2.0-liter four cylinder with a single turbocharger, delivered to either the rear wheels or all four. Alfa’s iconic five-hole wheels are finished in a dark hue while adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential are standard. Luxuries like a leather-clad interior with red stitching, Harman Kardon audio, and aluminum paddle shifters round out the package. Specific to the Competizione is the endlessly eye-catching matte gray paint job (an extra $1750), as well as upgraded and embossed sport seats.
The rear-wheel-drive Competizione we tested came with the optional summer tires on staggered 19×8 and 19×9-inch wheels ($1,250) for a grand total of $56,815. That’s a couple grand more than a kitted-out BMW 330i, which is a newer design with much fresher interior design and upgraded technology.
Still, I’d argue the Alfa’s combination of style, rarity, and performance makes it a decent value. I’ve already gushed over the Giulia’s lovely design, and not much has changed with the Competizione. Perhaps it looks better in this understated paint job, with a decklid and front bumper free from boy racer add-ons.
Take a step inside and those factory-to-dealer incentives start to make sense. Remember, this car went on sale as a 2016 model, and even then it had far from a best-in-class interior. The Competizione’s sport bucket seats have rubbery leather with seat bottoms seemingly infused with concrete—a stark contrast to the premium seats from other automakers. Some of the leather wrapping has the usual red-stitch accents, while others use the familiar silver-gray thread from other Giulia models. The plastic dash/door trim with metal-like wrapping befits a Nissan Altima, which is troubling at this price point. At least the dashboard’s round HVAC ducts give off strong Ferrari vibes, and if the rest of the interior isn’t immensely high-quality it at least fits like a snug track suit. You sit nice and low but can still see clearly out of the car, the hood isn’t too long or high, and the steering wheel is the perfect size. Pedals are placed just right. Rear seat room may be tight by modern “compact” standards, but it’s not punishing back there.
Alfa’s boosted four-banger cranks out respectable muscle while still netting 33 mpg on the highway. The peak power and torque figures won’t set anyone’s heart aflutter, but the secret sauce is in the power delivery. The Giulia has a thrilling power peak, and growls as if its camshafts are higher-lifting than your average GM Ecotec mill. It feels like Alfa Romeo was willing to sacrifice a bit of low-end grunt for the thrill of more horsepower up top. The eight-speed automatic performed flawlessly at all levels of throttle input, and the elongated aluminum paddle shifters feel wonderful in your hands as the clicked off gear changes with impressive urgency. If you care about the Alfa brand’s connection to Ferrari, you might also like that the shift paddles are mounted on the steering column, rather than the helm itself.
The powertrain keeps the Alfa Romeo brand relevant to enthusiasts, but it’s this Giorgio-platform chassis that makes the Giulia worth serious consideration. The car is responsive to inputs and fluid on a curvy road, yet the ride is compliant enough for ordinary drivers to consider it alongside a Lexus IS. We took the Giulia on the twisting roads of Ohio’s Hocking Hills, a combination that goes together like pasta carbonara and red wine. We witnessed plentiful grip and flat cornering from this impressive chassis, while the powertrain (in sport mode) happily stayed in its turbocharged torque peak. The limited-slip differential earned its keep on the region’s many tight corners and forested areas covered in wet leaves.
Specs: 2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione
Price: $54,590 (base); $56,815 (as-tested)
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; eight-speed automatic transmission
Horsepower: 280 @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 306 lb-ft @ 2000–4800 rpm
Layout: Rear-drive, four-door, five-passenger sedan
Weight: 3522 pounds
EPA-rated fuel economy: 24/33/27 mpg city/hwy/combined
0–60 mph: 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 149 mph
Competitors: BMW 330i, Tesla Model 3 Performance, Lexus IS500, Audi A4
Putting the active dampers in their firmest “Dynamic” setting made a modest change to suspension rebound, but even the base setting offers more athletic handling than your average C-Class. The beefy brakes performed flawlessly on Hocking Hills’ sharp turns and steep hills, and the steering had the right amount of lightness while never feeling numb. The Giulia offers a refined, enjoyable performance package is so balanced I lament how little I could even enjoy it in the urban hellscape of Houston in which I live.
On the other hand, despite the tech being a little dated, this might not be a bad to kill time in urban gridlock. The in-car entertainment was reasonably intuitive thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is essential given that Alfa’s less-than-intuitive sub-menus make the native interface occasionally frustration. In the end it’s still not a big concern for long-haul owners, as overcoming the learning curve happens pretty quickly. The Harmon Kardon audio system’s 14 speakers hit the highs and lows crisply and precisely, but the same can’t be said for the frustrating rattle emanating from the driver’s door panel at one specific frequency. On the plus side, there is a plethora of physical buttons in this car, from the era before touchscreens and capacitive haptic-feedback won the day. (Did I mention those delightful knobs for the physical HVAC controls. I like them.) It’s another instance of the old-school, proven attributes of some aging new-car designs.
All in all, the interior niggles and quality concerns are modest. If you are a die-hard Alfa fan and are feeling charitable, you might even say they add character. Remember yesteryear’s debate about a temperamental Ferrari over a more mundane Porsche product?
As always in the luxury compact space, one must factor price into the equation. The Giulia’s sticker price doesn’t necessarily give off Walmart Black Friday vibes—a base model is thousands more than a Lexus IS, Audi A4, or Tesla Model 3—but I maintain as a dealership-staff alumnus that the sheer quantity of promotions erode its inherent integrity among serious luxury customers. Promotions like what you see above are often plastered on a local dealership’s LED billboard, in my case overlooking one of the busiest motorways in America (Interstate 10) and subsequently burning a value-driven hole in each passerby’s retina. All that makes it difficult to talk up your sweet new executive sedan from Italy. Will other people really perceive you’ve “made it” by taking advantage of the same kind of “dealer’s special” they’re offering for $459 at the Dodge lot?
You simply do not see this level of urgency from the competition. Yes, BMW, Lexus, and even Tesla discount like mad when push truly comes to shove, but there’s a right and a wrong way to move inventory out the door. The Competizione package may be pricey at $4500 or so more than the next-down Veloce, but at least it feels a little special and will appeal to the brand die-hards it targets. It’s a tougher sell for the more ordinary Giulias. Until Alfa dealers get with the program and start walking the walk, they’re doing a disservice to a genuinely excellent car that, for as long as it’s still around, could shine brighter.
2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione
Highs: Fantastic chassis dynamics, jaw-dropping styling, four-cylinder engine that’s actually worth getting excited about.
Lows: Spotty fit and finish, unsupportive seat bottoms, retail experience lacks polish.
Takeaway: A fantastic sports sedan for that speaks well of Alfa Romeo in a way the brand could really use right now.