For this comparison we wanted to stay around the $50,000 cap, but BMW sent us a 330i with the M Sport package ($5,000), Track Handling package ($2,450), Drivers Assistance Pro package ($1,700), Premium package ($2,800), and Executive package ($2,100), which increased its price to a hefty $59,920. Equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, the 330i develops a punchy 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends the power to the rear wheels.
Our long-term 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q2 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that sends 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic. Equipped with the Ti Sport RWD package ($2,500), Driver Assistance Static package ($650), Driver Assist Dynamic Plus package ($1,500), and Ti Sport Performance package ($1,200), the Giulia carries a wallet-friendlier price tag of $51,635.
Counter these impressions with the inherent Italian passion of the Alfa. We found the Giulia's ride and handling superior to the BMW's. "Alfa absolutely cracked the ride/handling code," Walton said. The steering is well balanced, and the suspension is firm enough to feel sporty yet comfortable when you want it.
Whether you're tearing through the back roads to the grocery store or gliding along the boulevards on your way home, the Alfa will deliver the driving pleasure we expect from a sport sedan. Its engine feels torquey for a four-cylinder, though there's a similar bit of lag when you tromp the gas pedal from a stop. "Once underway, the eight-speed always seems to have the right gear on tap and is quick to downshift," Powell said. Reynolds complained that it was hard to predict how the pedal would react.
And although the Italian gallant is a couple of years longer in the tooth than the just-redesiged BMW, the Alfa does a lot of things right. When driven in Dynamic mode, the car doesn't beat you up. It simply moves with composure and swiftness. The Giulia feels natural, an extension of your corporeal form. "It's just so good in many different ways," Walton said. "And in the ways it doesn't quite measure up, it really doesn't matter to me.
We prefer the Alfa's seats, which provide more lateral support than the BMW's, and Reynolds also preferred the Italian's driving position. But we had different opinions on its second row. Whereas Walton described the Alfa's back seat as "the best of the bunch by a mile," Reynolds and I had problems with the headroom, as both of our heads brushed the headliner. The dual-pane sunroof gives back-seat passengers a nice experience, though. We all agreed on the new 3 Series' great interior space, including good legroom and headroom even for rear passengers.
Both cars offer different approaches with the same goal in mind: to be the best sport sedan. We appreciate the changes BMW made to the 3 Series to deliver a better ride and improve the dynamics over the last model, but the competition did its homework in the years BMW was looking the other way. The Giulia still keeps its promise of making drivers happy, as it transmits emotion while being a natural player.
With new players in the game, BMW must examine how and why the competition has surpassed its 3 Series in ways implausible a few years ago. To us, the Alf Romeo Giulia is simply a better driver's car. The Alfa is "the best, most satisfying, most visceral sport sedan—even in this lower-rung version," Reynolds said. "It's the modern 3 Series."
BMW 3 Series
Alfa Romeo Giulia