2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI RWD: Not nearly as fun as the Quadrifoglio version, right?

Price: $50,035 as tested (just $39,995 for a base model). Options mentioned throughout.

Marketer's pitch: "To conquer every corner, you can't cut any."

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver says: "Distinctive character, drives as fabulously as it looks (and vice versa)," but "no manual transmission, some interior oddities."

Reality: Less power, less money, equal fun.

What's new: The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a small, European-style hot rod sedan that first came to U.S. shores in the 2017 model year.

I'd tested a Quadrifoglio model last year — which cost $27,000 more than this — and its 505 horsepower was close to double this version's 280. So would the run-of-the-mill Giulia be nearly as fun? No way, right?

Long distance: My commute to the main office, where I work a couple days a week, is 41 miles — a long ride. On a good day I cover it in 45 minutes.

The Giulia makes me considering moving even farther away.

The first day I had the car, I was stuck in traffic about a mile from work, and I found myself thinking, "Do I really have to park this soon? Sad face." (Yes, I'm so hip I talk to myself in emoticons.)

Up to speed: Even in this non-race-ready version, the 2.9-liter V-6 makes the Giulia.

It's fast and fun. Sixty mph comes in 5.7 seconds, according to Car and Driver. I had a clear entrance ramp on the first highway I approached and decided to floor it. I reached 76 mph before I hit the first curve, and so I was all, "Hey, it's a Giulia. Do I really have to slow down?"

On the road: Not really. The handling dynamics are shockingly taut. After a couple miles I could start to skid around corners, knowing if I did it just right, the Giulia would reward me with a perfect slide, and then straighten right where I needed it to.

Winding roads were awesome.

The Alfa DNA drive mode (a dial switching between dynamic, neutral, and advanced efficiency) brings out the best of the Giulia, and came standard. Dynamic is a rollicking good time, but it can be a little rough on the bumps. Neutral smoothes it out, and the Giulia becomes more sedate, but it's still a fun car.

Certainly, a lot of this has to do with the Customer Preferred Package 22T, which for $2,250 adds 19-inch, 40-series tires (down from 18/45), along with some other pretty stuff. The active suspension and limited-slip differential in the $1,200 Ti Performance Package probably also had a lot to do with handling as well.

Shifty: The 8-speed shiftable transmission adds to the delight. Both automatic and manual modes are smooth and without complaint.

The rear seat of the 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia is shown only slightly smaller than actual size, according to one tall test subject. The rest is a thing of beauty, though.
Alfa Romeo
The rear seat of the 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia is shown only slightly smaller than actual size, according to one tall test subject. The rest is a thing of beauty, though.

Driver's seat: Drivers will enjoy one of the best cockpits out there. The leather-covered seat was definitely firm, but not uncomfortable. The wings expand and contract, and all the other usual adjustments are easily made.

A manual adjustable thigh support and leather seats (both part of the above package) add to the experience. So do the bright red leather seats.

Information, please: Alfa Romeo also has gotten the gauge pod just right as well. While driving along, the main screen keeps drivers apprised of fuel economy, miles to empty, time, and other information. No flipping through menus or screens to get this basic data.

Play some tunes: The infotainment center is integrated into the dashboard, so it really feels like it's not an add-on.

A small screen to the side shows what tunes are playing, though at 8.8 inches, the map is a little small by today's standards (and it still costs an extra $950). It's controlled through a dial and a pair of buttons and becomes easy after just a bit of practice.

The Harman Kardon sound system ($900) is a delight.

Friends and stuff: Or, should that be, stuffing in your friends.

The back seat is best left to small kids. Sturgis Kid 4.0, a large 6-foot-2, found some comfort only by sitting stretched across the rear seat.

Cargo space is 480 liters, according to carbuyer.co.uk (yes, the numbers were this hard to find). That's almost 17 cubic feet, which is about average for this type of sedan.

Looking around: The Driver Assistance Static Package adds blind spot and cross path detection for $650. Do not leave the showroom without them. The pillar between the front and rear seats is that bad.

Keeping warm and cool: The Giulia heater and I didn't really get along. I found it difficult to get the defrost, and the buttons disappear behind any cups sitting in the cupholders. Dials for temperature and blower were simple, though.

Night shift: As much as I love subtle lights inside, these were almost too subtle. They turned on really slow, and so I turned them off and on like five times. And I still couldn't really see.

Fuel economy: I averaged about 26 mpg and I beat the hell out of it.

Where it's built: Cassino, Italy.

How it's built: Consumer Reports predicts a 1 out of 5 for reliability but says it doesn't have the extensive data it needs.

In the end: Reliability, shmeliability. Just buy the extended warranty. It's that fun.