Alfa Romeo Giulietta – Review

Alfa Romeo, as a brand, have always produced some beautiful looking cars and are desirable by most. But once suggested as perhaps your next car, one is hesitant to recommend one due to a few reliability issues some models have suffered over the years. So, is the Giulietta finally the one to make you bite the bullet and itch that Alfa itch?

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A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Alfa Romeo Giulietta Super Sport
Engine: 2.0 Diesel – 150hp and 380Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed manual, front-wheel drive.
Price: Prices for the Giulietta range start at €21,950. Price as tested – €28,121.

Styling

This is where the Guilietta’s praises are sang the most. Its evident that the Ford Focus’s rival is prettier than Gran Paradiso itself. The decades old symbolic Alfa grill is very much present here. The triangular tribute grill sits flush to the body work with the 156-esque reg plate-mount to the right of it. Beneath the nose, sits the bottom half of the grill. Surrounding it is a thin red stripe; very much like penciled lipstick. Little Julie is looking elegant indeed.

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Finished in Alfa White and carbon trim, the Giulietta is more of a work of art than a car. It pays tribute to many Alfa predecessors. But what I really like are the rear door handles. Any manufacturer can be normal and put them on the door but Alfa have been unique and placed them adjacent to the window.

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To the rear, the clean and neatness continues. The boot release button is built into the rear badge. A touch of lipstick compliments the rear ‘defuser’, if you will. Protruding from either side of the defuser are chrome tailpipes, giving the Giulietta a rather sporty look.

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Interior

Open up the Alfa’s door and step into what is, well not quite what would remind you of a basilica. But more like a cockpit of a drivers car. The interior is well laid out with the essentials within easy reach. Unfortunately the interior lacked some quality that I was hoping for. Naturally, Alfa used a lot of Fiat bits. Namely, the Infotainment system.

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However, it comes with some typical Alfa niggles. The pedals are so close together and lack a rest plate for your left foot. Although the upside to this is, you can learn to heel-toe naturally. Honestly, throughout my time with the car I got used to not having a rest plate and just placed my foot under the clutch pedal when not using it. Going from driving the Megane GT with its nice and chunky steering wheel to driving the Alfa’s unnecessarily large and 2D-like steering wheel was not so welcoming, however.

On The Road

A diesel Alfa is appealing to some more than others. To me, I wouldn’t be a fan. But, I must admit the 2.0JTD motor that was equipped to the test car I had is very good. It is powerful enough to excite you when you plant your foot but is also reasonably frugal once you take it handy. Although the 4-cylinder diesel clatter that echoes throughout the cabin is not desirable. This 150hp unit is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. A 7-speed TCT(Twin Clutch Transmisson) is also available.

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The Giulietta features Alfa’s DNA button. This is, in essence, a toggle that driver’s can use to select different driving modes – Dynamic, Natural and All-Weather, hence DNA. In Natural mode the Alfa feels very relaxed and composed. It remains comfortable while negotiating Irish roads. Steering comes in electrically power assisted form, much like many of its rivals. In Dynamic mode, steering feel is heavy and direct while in Natural it is easy to deal with.

Switching the toggle to D, transforms the car instantly. As soon as the toggle is pushed, the throttle frees up immediately propelling you forward. You have to ask yourself is it worth the speeding ticket to see what the Giulietta can do.

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Recently I have taken to Youtube to educate myself on how to heel-toe. Excuse my utter useless explanation of this but here is it goes… This is the process of rev-matching while braking. Rev-matching is matching the speed of the engine to the gearbox. Heel-toeing means you are using a blip of the throttle while braking and downshifting. The idea behind it is that you combine the two actions into one therefore, eventually, making you a quicker driver. It also adds to the fun of driving. I managed to practice this with ease thanks to the closeness of the brake and accelerator pedal in the Giulietta.

For a family car, the chassis feels very firm and the car as a whole feels well planted to the road. When I took it out onto some twisting and narrow roads, little Julie coped very well. Body roll was kept to a minimum. It has the makings of a very good hot hatch.

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Surprisingly, the Giulietta did not fair so well in the city. Stop-start traffic was very jerky and the turning circle is quite awful, really. Navigating through a popular city centre car park was done so with quite a lot of cursing.

Practicality/Boot Space

Door pockets are shallow but usable. There are decent sized coffee cup holders, not that you’ll need them because you’ll be sipping on espresso.

Boot space equals a comfortable 350l . By comparison, the Mazda3 has 364l and the Opel Astra; 351l.

Equipment

Alfa uses the infotainment system here from the Fiat line-up. Uconnect is easy to use and to connect to. It has the essentials like Bluetooth audio and phone. What isn’t so nice is the tiny 5 inch screen. It looks lost on the dash. A bigger display with a better resolution would increase the quality of the infotainment system

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Running Costs

Throughout my 7-daily routine of suburban and motorway driving, the Giulietta returned a fuel economy figure of 6.3l/100km. This is quite a bit off of Alfa’s claimed figure of 5.0l/100km.

Juliet emits 110g/km of CO2 which presents a tax bill of €190 per year.

Pricing

Prices for the Giulietta range start at €21,950. The price for the test car came to €28,121, including options.

Competition

Opel Astra – As fair as practicality and cabin layout goes, the Astra trumps its rivals. But, it is certainly no match for the Giulietta in the looks department. C’mon, we all know looks matter!

Renault Megane – A sexy French hatch with tons of character and road presence. However unless you opt for the GT, the 110hp and 130hp variants are no match for the Giulietta’s power and driving ability.

Mazda3 – The Mazda3 really does tick a lot of boxes. It drives well for its class, looks great featuring Mazda’s KODO design and is just as practical. But, the Guilietta’s sex appeal wins this time round.

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Conclusion

There is certainly no denying the beauty of the Giulietta. It has to be one of the prettiest cars on sale at the moment and one of the most low key. However, I couldn’t help but think that the Giulietta was just too practical and it felt like it was trying to be something is was not. Personally, I feel a diesel is out of place in an Italian like the Alfa but that is easily overcome by opting for the 1.4TBi petrol engine. Spec Little Julie right and you will have yourself something truly to be proud of.