Alfa Romeo Giulia vs Jaguar XE vs BMW 3 Series
We see if Alfa Romeo’s stunning new Giulia has the substance to succeed against compact executive stars from Jaguar and BMW
Alfa Romeo used to rule the roost in the world of desirable sports saloons, but it’s lost its way of late. A switch to front-wheel drive in the nineties alienated a lot of fans, while patchy reliability and inconsistent quality drove many more towards upmarket German rivals.
The brand’s last attempt to crack the compact executive sector was the lacklustre 159, which was quietly axed in 2011. But now Alfa is back with a bang, and the all-new Giulia promises to put it at the top of the class. Sleek looks, a classy interior and a return to rear-wheel drive all appeal, while low emissions and attractive prices should tempt business users.
Before Alfa cracks open the champagne, though, the Giulia must see off a pair of seriously talented rivals. The Jaguar XE is our current class favourite, mixing engaging driving dynamics, handsome looks and a smart cabin with low running costs, while the BMW 3 Series still sets the standard in this sector for driving fun, solid build quality and everyday usability. Does the new Alfa do enough to crush its compact executive rivals?
Head to head
Alfa Romeo Giulia
|Model||Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2D 180 Speciale|
|Engine||2.2-litre 4cyl diesel, 178bhp|
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the brand’s first compact executive model for five years, following the demise of the 159 in 2011.
Car group tests
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: long-term test review
- Long-term test review: Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce
- New Alfa Romeo Giulia Estrema 2022 review
- New Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm 2021 review
- New Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce 2020 review
- New Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2020 review
Used car tests
From launch the newcomer is available as a four-door saloon only, with a choice of standard, Super and Speciale trim levels. Engines are limited to a 2.2-litre diesel with either 148bhp or 178bhp, plus a 2.0-litre 197bhp turbo petrol. At the top of the range is the firebreathing Quadrifoglio, with its 503bhp 2.9-litre V6. However, here we test the £34,150 2.2D Speciale, and our car is an early left-hand-drive Italian model.
Tester's Notes: "There are some lovely details on the Giulia. For example, the thin-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is perfectly contoured for your hands and covered in soft-touch leather."
|Model||Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport auto|
|Engine||2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 178bhp|
Tester's Notes: "If you’re looking to cut your company car costs, it’s worth considering the 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel. With emissions of 99g/km it drops into the 19 per cent tax bracket.”
BMW 3 Series
|Model||BMW 320d M Sport auto|
|Engine||2.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 187bhp|
The BMW 3 Series has been a hugely successful part of the firm’s line-up for more than 40 years, and a refresh last year kept it in contention for class honours. Here we test the ever-popular 320d in £34,460 M Sport auto guise.
Tester's Notes: "The EfficientDynamics Plus auto costs £32,220 and emits 99g/km of CO2, which results in an annual Benefit in Kind bill for higher-rate earners of £2,455."
First place: Jaguar XE
It’s another win for the XE, which continues to show its class in the compact executive sector. Sleek looks, a cosseting cabin and engaging driving experience come as standard, while the R-Sport brings just enough racy aggression. It’s not quite as spacious as its rivals here, but the Jag offsets this small disadvantage with wallet-friendly running costs and plenty of standard equipment.
Second place: BMW 3 Series
The evergreen 3 Series has to play second fiddle to the overall appeal of the Jag, but for pure driving thrills it remains unrivalled. The BMW is also beautifully finished, features an excellent infotainment system and boasts just enough space to accommodate most families. It’s let down here by its higher CO2 emissions and slightly stingy kit list.
Third place: Alfa Romeo Giulia
It was a tough call, but the Giulia just misses out on the runner-up spot. Alfa shouldn’t be disappointed with this result, because this head-turning, roomy and quick car deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as its rivals here. It’s also cost effective to run and good to drive. It’s just not quite as engaging as its rivals and is let down by its firm ride and poor infotainment system.
|Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport auto||BMW 320d M Sport auto||Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2D 180 Speciale|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£34,775/£34,775||£34,460/£37,685||£34,150/£35,995|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£15,614/44.9%||£14,990/43.5%||£15,128/44.3%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,528/£3,055||£1,566/£3,132||£1,432/£2,864|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,449/£2,414||£1,213/£2,021||£1,845/£3,075|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||27/£740/B/£20||28/£775/C/£30||26/£675/B/£20|
|Servicing costs||£475 (5yrs/50k)||£525 (5yrs/50k)||TBC|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,999cc||4cyl in-line/1,995cc||4cyl in-line/2,143cc|
|Peak power||178/4,000 bhp/rpm||187/4,000 bhp/rpm||178/3,750 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||430/1,750 Nm/rpm||400/1,750 Nm/rpm||450/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd auto/rwd||8-spd auto/rwd||8-spd auto/rwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||56 litres/foam||57 litres/run-flat||52 litres/foam|
|Boot capacity||455 litres||480 litres||480 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||11.7 metres/N/A||11.3 metres/0.26Cd||10.8 metres/0.32 Cd|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||21,000 miles (2yrs)/84||Variable)/192||21,000 miles (1yr)/55|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||6th/13th||15th/24th||23rd/5th|
|NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars||92/82/81/82/5 (2015)||95/84/78/86/5 (2012)||98/81/69/60/5 (2016)|
|0-60/30-70mph||8.2/8.0 secs||7.1/6.8 secs||7.1/6.5 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||2.9/3.3 secs||2.7/3.2 secs||2.4/2.8 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th||4.5/5.5/7.1/11.3s||4.1/5.5/6.9/12.5s||3.9/5.2/7.0 secs/N/A|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||143mph/1,700rpm||147mph/1,700rpm||143mph/1,500rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||76/47/59/68dB||67/47/58/68dB||71/45/63/71dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||44.7/9.8/551 miles||53.4/11.7/670 miles||35.1/7.7/401 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||169/111g/km/22%||142/116g/km/23%||216/109g/km/21%|
|Auto box/stability/cruise ctrl/AEB*||Yes/yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes/£620**||Yes/yes/yes/yes|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/£325||Yes/yes/yes|
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go||£635/yes/£515||£645/yes^/£495||£695/yes/£450|