Is the Giulia too Italian for its own good?
Nobody knew quite what to expect when Alfa Romeo decided to knock on America’s door and ask for another chance at the relationship. It didn’t always go so well in the past and despite cars that gave Americans the authentic Italian driving experience, Alfas were also infamous for breaking down, preserving authenticity by once again giving US customers the the genuine Italian driving experience. Upon announcing that Alfa Romeo was coming back to America, every enthusiast secretly prayed for the best.
And prayer was exactly what was needed since Alfa Romeo is now under the wing of FCA, the automaker that consistently takes the bottom spot on quality and reliability surveys—the Consumer Reports and JD Power Dependability Survey being the two most recent. Just a week after throwing a check engine light during a comparison test for PistonHeads, Jalopnik’s Giulia QV endured what appeared to be catastrophic failure on the highway, requiring it to be sent back to the shop for repair before the test was concluded. And then there’s the story of Consumer Reports’ Giulia, which apparently misses home because it’s been back to the dealership three times since it was purchased.
As Jalopnik notes, a Road and Track editor has also caught a glimpse of the Giulia’s famed check engine light, and then of course nobody can forget the time where the Giulia QV won Car and Driver’s comparison test against a Cadillac ATS-V, Mercedes-AMG C63 S, and BMW M3 despite suffering a check engine light when a remote start was attempted. It promptly placed itself into limp mode and refused to make boost until the codes were cleared. A secondary C&D test Giulia had “foibles” including a sunroof that went kaput and a Bluetooth connection that took siesta hours when it felt like it. None of this bodes well for Alfa, especially as its lackluster sales out it in danger, more so if a widespread reliability disaster breaks cover.
With so many meltdowns happening in the hands of journalists, trouble is brewing. We’ve had the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in our fleet, three times to be exact, and fortunately the check engine light managed to evade us each time. That’s not to say our experience was trouble-free, but problems resemble Car and Driver’s “foibles” more than a full-blown breakdown. The action began on the eve of the day I was supposed to return the Giulia to FCA. After returning to my parking spot after dinner and starting the Giulia, the screen displayed a warning message that read, “Break-In Attempt Detected.” I exited and immediately gave the Giulia a full body inspection to see if any tampering around the door handles, windows, or body could be detected.
Nothing. Maybe a curious kid had leaned on it for a picture. After all the Giulia attracted smartphone-wielding enthusiasts wherever it went, my personal driveway included, so I brushed the event aside. Then at 2 AM, the shrill sound of a car alarm rang throughout my neighborhood. I snapped awake, the day’s earlier events fresh in my mind. A peak out the window confirmed that indeed it was the Giulia making the racket and undoubtedly waking my loving neighbors. I ran outside, pressing any possible button on the key fob to get the noise to stop. Nothing. I got inside, started the Giulia, and put it in drive. The damned thing just kept on blaring as I drove down the block.
The Giulia was basically recreating the scene in Big Fat Liar where Frankie Muniz humiliates a sleazy Hollywood producer by rewiring his car to sound the alarm, spray washer fluid, and generally cause a scene wherever he went. I parked and was halfway into the trunk with the aim of disconnecting the battery so my neighbors wouldn't slaughter me when it finally stopped. The next morning I informed the company that manages our press vehicles of the situation and they promised to look into it. That experience could have either been the result of the Giulia’s foibles or two separate break-in attempts on the same night (it is a sexy and desirable car).
The fact that the alarm wouldn’t respond to inputs and the stack of reliability complaints against the Giulia makes the former more viable. Despite the inconvenience, yours truly skews on the “love it” side of the Giulia argument. While being woken up from a pleasant dream is not an experience I enjoy, there’s no denying that the mix of unpredictability, sex appeal, and ecstasy brought about by the driving experience makes the Giulia a spicy Italian hot rod that will make your life much more interesting than it is now. Besides, the dreams I was having were all about punishing the Giulia by whipping the wheel back and forth, bouncing from corner to corner as cylinders thrummed faster and my throttle foot dug deeper.