JOHANNESBURG: Alfa Romeo has a long and proud history in South Africa and at one stage we owned more Alfas than any other country outside of Italy.
Things went a bit pear shaped after that, but now that the famous brand falls under the Stellantis Group, there’s a renewed energy and that can only be a good thing.
A bit like the recently updated Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV in that they have won numerous accolades around the world.
The Italians have tweaked the interior of the pair that share the same platform with upgraded connectivity to their 3D Nav 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
There is a host of features such as automatic high-beam assist, active blind spot assist, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, driver attention alert (all part of the Driver Assist Pack). You also get a wireless charging pad, heated front seats that are electrically adjustable, a sunroof and adaptive cruise control.
Unlike their competitors, these are not options you pay for to enhance the base model, but come as standard.
The exterior remains as is – why dabble with something so eye-catching? – as do the aluminium engines. The 2.0-litre turbo provides 206kW and 400Nm of torque that will get the rear-wheel drive Giulia to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio has the V6 2.9-litre bi-turbo mill with 375kW and 600Nm with a top speed of 307km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds.
Power is sent to the rubber via a very slick eight-speed ZF automatic transmission connected to a carbon-fibre driveshaft.
Both the Stelvio and the Giulia have large fixed aluminium paddles, which I found to be one of the best and slickest changes I’ve come across.
The 2.0-litre all wheel drive Stelvio Super has a top speed of 230km/h and gets to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds and it’s bigger Quadrifoglio sibling a top speed of 283km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds.
The engine, drive-train and suspension set-up can be altered by Alfa’s three-mode DNA drive controller, allowing you to shift from comfortable cruising to chasing down the competition.
We drove both 2.0-litre versions and the driver focused DNA of the Alfa filters through immediately from the sharp steering, the analogue dials set in the traditional round housing, drivers position and handling provides a welcome reminder that driving can still be a lot of fun. The double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension combine perfectly with its almost 50/50 weight distribution that makes short shrift of gentle bends and sharp corners.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Giulia with its correct proportions and rear-wheel drive, but was impressed by the Stelvio thanks to its best-in-class weight that had it handling more like a sedan than an SUV.
The interior is filled with soft-touch surfaces, quality leather, extremely comfortable seats, easy to reach dials and a general air of executive flair that has no reason to stand back for any of the competition.
For the true Alfisti carbon-fibre paneled 500 GTA and track-biased GTAm vehicles with the engine boosted to 397kW are being made worldwide priced at R4-million and R4.3-million.
So far five have been confirmed for South Africa.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce: R 989 900
Alfa Romeo Giulia QV: R 1 599 900
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Super: R 1 159 900
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q: R 1 749 900