Burning Snow: the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti – Making Gelato out of Snow and Ice [Op/Ed]

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti
[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]
TFLcar was recently invited by Rocky Mountain Redline to attend their inaugural winter driving event in Winter Park, Colorado.  They brought several all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles, including the Acura TLX A-Spec and the Mercedes-Benz AMG C43. Then came time to drive this: the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti.

I have a weakness for anything Italian. Food, art, music, geography, people – cars… if it’s Italian, chances are I like it. They still know how to make a car feel like an artist had something to do with the design, both internally and externally. When I first saw the Giulia on the internet, I thought it looked too much like a BMW. Up close, it’s totally different. It’s beautiful.

The interior’s looks and feel are exquisite. Given the amount of options you can use for your very own Giulia, it’s also customizable to your personal tastes. It’s as nice as anything built by Germans without anything too garish or overwrought. The seats, front and rear, are extremely comfortable. Again, beautiful.

Performance to match its looks

Then we have to talk about its slick little engine. Yep, it too is a beauty. At full boil, the turbocharged inline-4 sounds amazing. It also makes 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque, which is damn good from just two liters. Unfortunately, the only transmission available is an eight-speed automatic – no manual is available. That said, the automatic is quite smooth and snaps off manual shifts quickly.

Equipped with “Q4” all-wheel drive, an Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti like the one I drove starts at $43,135. It’s fairly efficient – rated at 23 MPG city and 31 MPG highway. According to Alfa Romeo, “The Q4 all-wheel-drive system delivers all-season traction and optimizes performance by transferring up to 60% of engine torque to the front axle.” This system works with engine control, traction control and mechanical control seamlessly.

The system works well; perhaps even too well. You see, this was my only issue with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti. I could not defeat the Q4’s traction control system, no matter how hard I tried. This is good news for a majority of people who want AWD for performance and safety reasons. However, it’s not so great if you want to hoon around on slippery surfaces.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti
[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]

The performance is safe…perhaps a bit too safe

As a result of this safety system, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti refused to lose control. It simply would not let me be an idiot and drift through any of the corners. Sure, it was quick and grip was much better than I expected, but I also expected it to allow me to go ape. I deliberately overpowered corners to make it over and understeer – no dice. It would only slide a hair and then, based on electronic voodoo that my primitive brain could not fully comprehend, it would go exactly where the steering told it to.

Nope, all wheels must grip, thank you. “Devi essere sicuro in ogni momento” or ” You must be safe at all times.” I get it and I respect the car for being so competent on slippery surfaces. In the end, though, I was left feeling a bit let down. It was the same feeling I had when I found out that Alfa Romeo will not equip the Alfa Romeo Giulia with a manual transmission. Where’s the fun in that?

Oh well. At least we know they build an excellent AWD system and Alfa Romeo truly cares about safety. It’s so accurate in snow, I felt like I could eat a gelato with one hand while piloting through the snowy and icy agility course at speed. I’ve driven this same vehicle on normal roads and it’s a hoot. It’s an especially fun machine on twisty turns (minus snow) and it makes you feel special. On that basis, it’s hard not to like it. My only regret from the Rocky Mountain Redline winter driving event was not spending more time with the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Despite it being logical and safe, it’s still beautiful and has a ton of personality. I wanted to stay inside of it all day long. I wish I spent more time getting to know it in other environments as well.

Yet another thing to long for that’s Italian. Check out the Giulia’s North American debut at the LA International Auto Show below. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for more news, views, and real-world reviews!