Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Carbon on test: speed isn't everything
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Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Carbon
- Terrific transmission
- Feels very light and agile
- Intuitive infotainment system
- Extra $10k for the carbon parts
- No performance upgrades
- Can’t fully deactivate traction control
I’ll be honest: Alfa Romeo is a brand I don’t know a lot about. I know that it falls under the Fiat Chrysler umbrella, it’s from Italy, and it has one of the most interesting badges around.
The other thing that I do know about Alfa Romeo is that it builds some of the best-looking cars on the market, and this new Giulia is no exception.
If you’re familiar with the Giulia, you’d know that there are two engines; the Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V6 found in the Quadrifoglio… and the other one.
Before getting behind the wheel of the Veloce I had always wondered why buyers wouldn’t just go for the V6, but I’ve since discovered the two main reasons: it’s significantly cheaper, and the Veloce is an awesome drive in its own right.
For 2021, Alfa Romeo has tried to bridge the gap between the Veloce and the Quadrifoglio by offering the Veloce only in Carbon form. This comes with a $10,000 price hike over the lower-spec models that were previously offered, but you’re left with a stunning machine with looks that match its driving prowess.
As the moniker suggests, this sedan is now dripping in carbon fibre additions, inside and out. It gets the Quadrifoglio’s’s carbon spoiler, carbon side skirts, carbon mirror caps, and a carbon grille surround at the front. It also gets the flagship model’s darkened 19-inch wheels, which work with the carbon additions perfectly.
On the inside, you’ll find a carbon centre console, dash panel and door sill inserts. It also gets a chunkier steering wheel with a pair of aluminium shift paddles behind it. The all-new 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is a lot easier to use than the last, and can be controlled via the buttons and dial mounted on the centre console.
Like most cars in its segment, the full suite of safety systems come standard such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active blind spot assist, and lane keep assist.
At the business end, the Veloce Carbon sits the familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 206kW/400Nm. These two figures might be dwarfed by the Quadrifoglio’s 375kW/600Nm, but are impressive in their own right. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power exclusively to the rear wheels, where a limited-slip differential distributes it evenly. In terms of performance, it will hit 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, topping out at 240km/h.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Giulia Veloce Carbon was everything that I imagined a well-balanced Italian performance sedan would be. Compared with its BMW and Mercedes-Benz competitors, it feels extremely light on its feet, and the steering is direct. While the engine’s soundtrack isn’t anything too exciting, the power band above 3000rpm is addictive and easy to stay in when the car is in Dynamic mode.
The beauty in driving the Veloce lies in the transmission, and that’s something I never thought I’d say about a traditional, torque-converting unit. Alfa Romeo has managed to extract all the goodness from a dual-clutch unit and put it in this eight-speed automatic.
The large aluminium shift paddles look inviting behind the steering wheel, but I found myself using the sequential-style gear selector most of the time, because it was just so much fun. Tapping the shifter backwards results in a snappy change that plants you back in the seat, and leaves nothing on the table – it’s just that good.
My only beef with this Veloce lies in the fact that you have to fork out the big bucks for the Quadrifoglio if you’re after a traction control system that can be turned off. Considering how agile it is on the road, I’d love to experience some sideways Giulia action at the track, and with a limited-slip differential at the rear, it feels like a missed opportunity on Alfa Romeo’s part to make it more appealing to enthusiasts.
As for practicality, it’s a sedan, so what’s not to love? It gets a generously sized boot and has more than enough backseat space.
This Giulia Veloce Carbon is an extremely refined drive that’s only let down by the inability to turn off driver assistance systems. At the $89,990 sticker price, I’d argue that it’s a better package than the German offerings in its segment, and it’s easily the best-looking sedan on sale right now.
Buying the Veloce Carbon may result in a bombardment of “Why didn’t you get the fast one?” questions coming your way. But you can rest assured knowing that it’s an impeccable car in its own right, and you’ll have an extra $50,000 in your back pocket to by the world’s fanciest set of noise cancelling headphones to ignore those people.
ALFA ROMEO GIULIA VELOCE CARBON
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, RWD