Rear-drive Italian sport sedan from a legendary company for the price of a loaded minivan? What on earth would you change? Well, a few things, actually.
No car is perfect, not even a MotorTrend Car of the Year. There’s always something that could use updating or a compromise made for practical or budgetary reasons during a car’s development that isn’t a big deal but still noticeable. As much fun as the Alfa is to drive, as many looks as it gets in parking lots, there are still wrongs to be righted.
The most consistently frustrating is the glare on the infotainment screen. I love the way the screen has been incorporated into the dash design with no obvious frame, but it has some sort of matte finish on it that reflects absolutely everything. The use of dark red text over a black background is hard enough to read, but it’s impossible when all I can see is the reflection of my shirt.
The parking sensor programming comes in second, only because I can work around it. Like other vehicles, the parking sensors are only automatically active at low speed, but they don’t come on every time you slow down. In fact, they only seem to come on after you’ve just started the car and put it in gear or if you’ve just had it in reverse. It’s helpful in those circumstances, but with the very low nose on this car, it’s not enough. They need to come on any time you’re at parking lot speeds, lest you find out the crunchy way how close the parking stop is or how steep the driveway transition is.
Barring that, at least give me an override that works. I’ve tried turning them back on with the parking sensor button after they automatically shut off, but my override gets overridden as I stop-and-go around the parking lot. I’ve already told you I want them on. Stop trying to help by turning them back off.
Speaking of features you can’t control properly, why is there no ESC Off button in a sport sedan? At least give me a Sport mode if you’re not going to let me turn it off. I shouldn’t have to drop another 30 grand on a Quadrifoglio to get that. At minimum, customers might need it to get unstuck in the snow.
Returning to more consistently annoying issues, the automatic engine stop/start system needs to be connected to the cabin temperature sensor. I’m a fan of these systems because I see no reason to burn gas unnecessarily at a stoplight—but only when they work right. The Alfa’s kicks in as soon as the oil is up to temperature, which happens long before the cabin has cooled down or heated up to a comfortable degree. All summer I fought with it killing the A/C while the cabin was still uncomfortably warm, and in the winter I would be overriding it to keep the heater on. In related matters, the fan could use a higher speed on the hottest and coldest days.
I know the auto stop/start system is related to engine oil temperature because that’s one of the few gauges available. Not water temperature. Oil temperature. Makes sense for a sport sedan (but brings me back to the ESC question), but why aren’t there any other gauges available on the embedded screen in the instrument cluster? Lose the useless, unlabeled g-meter, and give me water temperature or voltage or transmission temperature.
Likewise falling into the almost-but-not-quite category are the extendable sun visors. All cars should have these standard, and they should all extend far enough to cover the entire side window. The Alfa’s fall a couple inches short, which is, invariably, always where the sun is.
The remainder of my midcycle refresh to-do list is a bit less critical but would contribute to a better owner experience. Better Apple CarPlay integration would be nice, for example. Right now, it does the old “play the first song on your phone every time” trick, and it changes your audio source to your phone after every voice prompt no matter what you were listening to prior. Likewise, if we could teach the tire pressure monitoring software to recognize when it’s cold out and not throw needless warnings, that would be nice, too.
Also in the realm of teaching, let’s put a note in the owner’s manual telling people how to get this computer-controlled shifter into neutral. If you pull the trigger when you move the lever, it’ll go to drive (pull back) or reverse (push forward). To get to neutral, you need to push/pull without touching the trigger. Don’t ask how long I spent in line at the carwash trying to figure that out, and I do this for a living.
Finally, here’s a real cheap fix: Put a better plastic trim piece between the steering column and gauges. Readers love to lambast us as “dash fondlers” when we complain about a lack of soft-touch materials, but unless it’s an armrest, I don’t care what it feels like. Soft-touch materials generally look better than hard plastic. It’s especially obvious when you have panels of the same color made out of both materials. In this case, the dash on either side of the steering column is soft-touch, but the piece in between is hard plastic. It’s super obvious because the grain and gloss don’t match, and I see it every time I look at the gauges.
No discussion on the Alfa’s shortcomings would be complete without mention of what’s broken during our possession, so here’s the complete list to date:
The infotainment screen has picked up a habit of shutting down and resetting within a few minutes of starting the car. It’s inconsistent, happening a couple of times in a row, then disappears for months. We’ll have the dealer look at it when it goes in for its first service at 9,600 miles (per the computer).
Read more on our long-term Alfa Romeo Giulia here:
- Update 1: The Personal Connection
- Update 2: The Italian Scallion
The post 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport Long-Term Update 3: Changes We’d Like appeared first on MotorTrend.