Alfa’s new Giulia well-suited to Colorado

The Alfa Romeo Giulia AWD rests north of Cowdrey. (Bud Wells photo)

Guiding the Alfa Romeo Giulia luxury sport sedan over Cameron Pass and down to Walden proved particularly special among this summer’s numerous driving delights.

The Giulia is a new player from an old family, based in the hills of Italy; yet to its liking is the spirited mountain driving of the Colorado Rockies.

If I remember correctly, the last four-door Alfa I’ve driven was back in 1995, the 164 Saloon, a heavy sedan with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine. In December 2015, I tested the Alfa 4C Spider.

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia is of all-wheel-drive configuration, a midsize competitor with the Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Mercedes C Class, Jaguar XE, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Volvo S60. Alfa Romeo Automobiles is a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The Giulia was put together in Italy for driving in the U.S.’s tougher terrain such as Colorado’s. It was perfectly suited for the drive on Colo. 14 up Poudre Canyon, from the moment the starter button on the steering wheel is depressed to the stopping power of the four-wheel Brembo disc brakes (13-inch rotors in front).

Performance for the Giulia Base AWD model is from a 280-horsepower, 306 lb.-ft. torque, twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, with quick-burst passing power on the two-lane roadway. Pushing a switch will upgrade its normal drive mode to dynamic, with improved throttle response and shift patterns.

Handling is excellent from double-wishbone front suspension, with multilink rear and coils all around. Tires are Bridgeston Turanza 225/45R18.

We breezed in to Walden for lunch at the River Rock Café in the Antlers Hotel. The remoteness of Walden in North Park and the friendliness of its 600 townspeople have reminded me of the fictional Cicely, Alaska, in the Northern Exposure tv series of 20 years ago or so.

The Giulia carried us northward on Colo. 125 past Cowdrey, on to Laramie, Wyo., then back down U.S. 287 to Fort Collins and home to Greeley.

On descents in the mountains, I use paddle shifters; many drivers don’t. I prefer the paddles for keying on a couple of lower gears to avoid most use of the brakes. Contrasting the Ford Fusion Sport I drove recently with tiny, though so convenient, paddles tied to the steering wheel, are the Alfa’s 6 ½-inch-long aluminum paddles locked to the steering column. They’re prominent enough to impress young drivers; also, though, to hinder some access to other stalks for high beams/turn signals/wiper controls.

With the 2.0-liter, turbo 4 power, the Alfa carries an EPA highway estimate of 31 miles per gallon of premium fuel. Overall average for my tests was 28.2 mpg. Fuel tank is 15.3 gallons. Among more powerful engines available for the Giulia is one of 505-horsepower, a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6.

The Alfa Romeo is rear-wheel-based, with measurements of 111 inches for wheelbase, 182.5 for overall length, 73.7 width and curb weight of 3,805 pounds.

A pretty Montecarlo  blue metallic finish enhances the new Alfa Romeo. Its leather interior is classy, though rear seating is very firm and tight in legroom and its trunk capacity of 12 cubic feet is shy of most competitors.

With its all-wheel-drive setup, the Giulia sport sedan is priced at $46,490. Base price is $39,995 and among a long list of optional equipment are heated front seats/steering wheel/washer nozzles, leather-wrapped steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and custom-painted brake calipers.