2021 Alfa-Romeo Giulia Sprint Type 952
The revised-for-2021 Alfa Giulia revives the famous Sprint badge. How does it drive?
Sprint is one of many model nameplates tucked in Alfa’s back pocket. In recent times, it’s denoted an accessible-but-sporty trim level, and so it is with the new-for-2020 Giulia Sprint 952. It’s part of a new range structure in the UK consisting of Super (entry-level), Sprint (sporty), Lusso Ti (luxurious) and Veloce (performance). It’s arrivederci to the old Speciale. We decided to test the new Sprint, and considering it’s (almost) the entry-level model, it’s a cracking offering.
The changes for 2020 are pretty minor (expect a bigger refresh in 2021). There are no mechanical upgrades and the engine line-up is unchanged: 2.0 petrol (200hp), 2.2 diesel (190hp) and – for the Veloce only – 280hp petrol.
Neither is there much of an external facelift. The main improvements are inside. An all-new console finally ditches that old Giulia bugbear: the nasty, sharp-edged plastic gearknob. The new leather lever feels so much nicer to use.
The centre display is a lot better, too. It’s no bigger than before (8.8 inches across) but it’s now a touchscreen with easy-to-use drag-and-drop features. It all works loads better, even if it still isn’t state-of-the-art. Also better is the new seven-inch TFT screen ahead of the driver, which has more info on display. There’s onboard wi-fi and a wireless phone charger, too.
Cabin quality is also clearly better. The main central rotary knob is nicer to touch while the steering wheel has extra buttons for Active Cruise Control. Also new is Traffic Sign Recognition and Driver Attention Assist.
I loved the colour of our test car: Moonlight Pearl, which in sunlight recalls somewhat the famous old 156 colour, Nuvola Blue. Visconti Green is a fresh colour, too, while two new ‘heritage’ colours arrive in October: Villa d'Este 6C Red and Junior GT Ochre (gold to you and me).
There’s no change to how the MY2020 car drives, which is fine because the Giulia is already the best-handling, best-steering saloon on sale. The rear-drive chassis proved perfect for the sweeping Derbyshire roads of my test route, offering balance, feel and comfort in equal measure. Switch to Dynamic mode on the controller and mid-range pull and automatic gearbox reflexes are both sharpened.
Prices start at £34,995, rising to £37,995 for the Sprint and £2k more for the Lusso Ti. The Sprint as tested has a pretty good spec, with leather-and fabric-upholstery, aluminium trim inserts and dark metallic details.
You might expect the (almost) entry-level Sprint to feel underwhelming for a Giulia Quadrifoglio owner, but the opposite is, in fact, the case. The Sprint is a cracker of a car. The engine may have ‘only’ 200hp but it’s a delicious powerplant delivering sparkling performance. Every bit of the Giulia Q’s steering sharpness is there, too, while the chassis feels utterly composed. With the MY2020 interior upgrades, the Giulia makes an even more convincing choice.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS 2021 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA SPRINT
ENGINE: 1995cc 4-cyl petrol
MAX POWER: 200hp at 4500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 330Nm (243lb ft) at 1750rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed semi-automatic ZF 8HP
KERB WEIGHT: 1429kg
MAX SPEED: 146mph
0-62MPH: 6.6 sec
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 34.9mpg