The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is expected in Ireland in early 2023

Alfa Romeo Tonale Review

The Alfa Romeo Tonale will arrive in Ireland in early 2023 and marks a fresh start for the Italian car brand, now under the stewardship of Stellantis and a new Irish distributor, Gowan Auto.

The Tonale is one of the most important models for Alfa Romeo in years, a stylish new compact SUV to take on the likes of the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40.

While pricing for the Irish market is yet to be announced, we do know a few things about the new Tonale. In Ireland, it will be available as a petrol hybrid and a plug-in hybrid with an electric driving range of up to 69 kilometres.

But what's it like to drive? Caroline travelled to Milan with Alfa Romeo Ireland to drive the new Tonale plug-in hybrid ahead of its official arrival in Ireland.

The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is expected in Ireland in early 2023
The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is expected in Ireland in early 2023

Styling

The new Tonale is a classy Italian compact SUV, with flamboyance and flair to its design that makes rivals look positively square. At the front, there is Alfa's characteristic V-shaped grille flanked by a striking set of LED headlights and customary offset number plate, lending the Tonale a serious face should you find one in your rear view mirror. Alloy wheel sizes will be available from 18-inch to 20-inch, with a classic Alfa 'telephone dial' style available. There will be two trim levels for Ireland - Ti and Veloce - with 18-inch alloys fitted as standard. The sporty elegant look is finished off with a dramatic LED light bar at the rear. There's a range of eye-catching metallic shades to choose from, showing off the Alfa's sleek surfacing.

Interior

Inside, the Tonale offers a snug and sporty cabin. It feels quite distinct for the segment, with a driver-focused layout that will have you aching to press the start button - conveniently located on the steering wheel. Quality takes a step up from the Giulia and Stelvio, with most of the touch points feeling good. You will find some cheaper plastics lower down and some of the buttons below the infotainment screen feel a little basic for a premium car. But generally, the Tonale lives up to its billing and feels far more special than anything we've seen from the brand in the last decade. There's a cowled digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a new 10.25-inch touchscreen.

The interior of the new Tonale
The interior of the new Tonale

Practicality

The Tonale a little bit smaller than the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The Tonale is roomy in the back for a mid-size SUV, with good-sized footwells and plenty of headroom too for adult passengers. Petrol hybrids get the largest boot at a competitive 500 litres but plug-in hybrids can only muster 385 litres, which is about the same as many hatchbacks.

Engines

The new Tonale will be available in Ireland with a 1.5-litre petrol hybrid engine with 160hp (front wheel drive) or as a range-topping plug-in hybrid with 280hp and all-wheel drive.

Charging

It will take about 2.5 hours to charge the plug-in hybrid Tonale's battery to full at 7.4kW.

The Tonale is the first ever plug-in hybrid Alfa Romeo
The Tonale is the first ever plug-in hybrid Alfa Romeo

On the road

The Tonale feels immediately sporty and driver-focused behind the wheel - despite its height. It's one of the sharpest handling mid-size SUVs on the market. The Tonale plug-in hybrid feels agile and athletic though bends, with plenty of grip from the Alfa Q4 all-wheel drive system. The cabin feels nicely insulated, offering good refinement at high speeds on the motorway but it is quite firmly sprung, so can thud over imperfections in the road surface.

There is a classic Alfa 'D.N.A' driving mode selector and the Tonale is at its most comfortable in the Natural (N) setting. But in this mode the steering errs on the light side. So for any enthusiastic driving, you'll want to slip it into the Dynamic (D) mode, where the steering feels better weighted and the throttle response is sharper. The plug-in hybrid's 280hp feels fast with the 0-100 km/h sprint done in just over 6 seconds. But plant your foot on the accelerator hard in Dynamic mode and the engine does thrash a bit.

But in more relaxed driving, the Tonale is a perfectly behaved car that feels great on the road. When running in hybrid mode, it's quite efficient too. But plug-in hybrids are generally at their best when you have the desire and facilities to keep the battery charged and make use of the electric driving range of up to 69 kilometres.

Rear seating in the new Tonale
Rear seating in the new Tonale

Pricing 

Pricing will be announced closer to launch of the Tonale in Ireland. At the moment, Alfa's larger Stelvio SUV goes on sale from about €64,000.

Summary

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is a significant comeback for the Alfa Romeo brand in Ireland and Europe. When it arrives in Ireland in the first few months of 2023, it will be the brand's most competitive model in the Alfa line-up. There's great demand for mid-size SUVs and the Tonale will be a stylish alternative to more established rivals from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. What's more, it's competitive in key areas like practicality and interior technology. It has a snug and sporty cabin, though some rivals do feel more premium. While I'm yet to drive the petrol hybrid entry into the Tonale range, the range-topping plug-in hybrid offers a smooth and powerful drive with the flexibility of driving electric for a limited range. All in all, the Tonale is a stylish and fun to drive compact SUV and the brand's best chance yet to regain a foothold in the Irish market.

The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is a stylish and fun to drive SUV
The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is a stylish and fun to drive SUV

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Irish Pricing

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is now on sale in Ireland!

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio performance SUV has gone on sale in Ireland priced from €118,795.

Powered by a 2.9-litre V6 Bi-Turbo petrol engine with Q4 all wheel drive as standard, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has 510hp and 600Nm of torque.  The SUV can sprint from zero to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of more than 283km/h. The specifically calibrated eight-speed automatic transmission allows gear shifts in just 150 milliseconds in Race mode.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is also equipped with the exclusive Alfa™ Chassis Domain Control unit, which acts as the brain to coordinate all the car's electronic systems. The system simultaneously assigns specific tasks to the various active systems, such as the Alfa™ DNA Pro selector, Q4 all-wheel drive, Alfa™ Active Torque Vectoring system, Alfa™ Active Suspension system and the ESC.

The standard Torque Vectoring technology optimises the Stelvio Quadrifoglio's drive distribution. The two electronically controlled clutches in the rear differential make it possible to control torque delivery to each wheel separately. This ensures the optimal transfer of power to the ground even when the car is pushed to its dynamic limits, without the need for intrusive inputs from the stability control system.

Equipment

Standard specification on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio in Ireland includes 20-inch Quadrifoglio alloy wheels with special profiled wheel arches, restyled rear diffuser, sports exhaust with four outlets, and bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights.

Inside, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes as standard with a leather dashboard and door tops, leather and Alcantara seats, leather steering wheel, carbon fibre trim and stainless steel pedals. There's also an 8.8-inch Alfa™ Connect infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™.

Safety specification includes advanced Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind Spot Monitoring (DSM), Integrated Braking System (IBS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and a rear-view camera with guide lines. Alfa™ Chassis Domain Control, Alfa™ Active Torque Vectoring, Alfa™ Active Suspension system and Alfa™ DNA Pro, with Race Mode, complete the standard set-up.


Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review

Alfa Romeo Stelvio
The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Caroline reviews the Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is Alfa Romeo’s new SUV and it arrives in Ireland after the Italian brand’s renaissance led by the Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon in 2017.

With demand for SUVs seemingly unstoppable and any premium manufacturer worth its salt building one, it was inevitable that Alfa Romeo would turn its artistic hand to an SUV – enter the Stelvio.

The result is every bit as sensuous and dramatic as the Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon: from the deep plunging V-shaped grille around to the muscular rear, crowned with two large double exhausts. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is stylish and chic without being bulky or ungainly, the plight of many large SUVs.

Inside much of the interior design is carried over from the Giulia saloon. Many will love the higher ride height – in some ways this feels like a Giulia hatchback though I don’t know if Alfa Romeo would be impressed with that summation. While the Stelvio also sits five, it feels more practical for coping with family life.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio
The interior of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The rear seat is comfortable for three and the footwells a decent size. The boot is 525 litres and aided by a powered tailgate as standard.

The interior looks and feels solidly built however the material finish is average for a vehicle with a starting price from €47,295. It’s a comfortable cabin and the driving position is reassuring with all controls falling to hand easily. The Alfa Connect infotainment system with 8.8” screen comes as standard and is controlled by a rotary controller. Safety equipment like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, integrated braking system and autonomous emergency braking also come as standard.

In Ireland Stelvio is offered with four trim levels: Stelvio, Super, Speciale and Milano Edizione. Standard equipment includes dual zone air con, cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, keyless start and 17” alloys. My Speciale model included 19” alloys with coloured brake calipers, full leather upholstery and heated front seats.

In terms of engines, the Stelvio is offered with a 2.0-litre petrol with 200hp or 280hp, and a 2.2-litre diesel with 180hp or 210hp. There are rear wheel drive and all wheel drive models available.

My test car was powered by the 2.2-litre diesel with 210hp, and it was also fitted with all wheel drive. The engine is noisy on start up and idle but it smooths out at speed. There is plenty of power and torque in this model and power is fed to the road via a standard 8-speed automatic gearbox. My fuel economy over a week of driving was 6.4l/100km.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio range starts from €47,295 in Ireland

What's the Alfa Romeo Stelvio like to drive?

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is agile on the road and retains composure through bends with not too much body roll. The steering lacks feedback and it’s not as engaging to drive as the Giulia saloon. The Stelvio will settle down well for a motorway cruise, but there is some road noise audible. A firmer set up means that it’s not the softest ride in the class but it’s far from uncomfortable either.

The Stelvio SUV fills an important gap in the Alfa Romeo range with insatiable demand for SUVs among consumers. While in all senses and purposes, the Stelvio is competively sized and priced, and drives with style too, the interior finish makes the car less palatable at the luxury end of the market. Yet for ‘something different’ that’s practical and stylish, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio carves out its own niche.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2JTD Speciale
Price: 
€55,995 (Range from €47,295)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
210hp
Torque: 470Nm
0-100km/h:  
6.6 seconds
Top speed: 215km/h
Economy: 
4.8/100km
CO2 emissions:  
127g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

If you are looking for a mid-size luxury SUV, you might also like this review of the Jaguar F-Pace.


The Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce in Misano Blue

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Review

Alfa Romeo Ireland has dropped a car for Alfa aficionados into the Giulia range. Arriving in a blur of exclusive ‘Misano Blue’ paint, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce attempts to bridge the gap between the standard Giulia petrol and diesel models, and the range topping grand symphony that is the 510hp Giulia Quadrifoglio.

The Giulia Veloce’s long bonnet houses a tuned 2.0-litre turbo petrol that produces 280hp and 400Nm of torque. 0 to 100 kmh is a blink-and-you‘ll-miss-it 5.7 seconds and power is fed to the rear wheels via an eight speed automatic gearbox.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a beauty by any book and in Veloce spec it’s lowered, bolstered with sports bumpers and at the back there are two large tailpipes nestled in a rear diffuser. The Giulia Veloce is shod with 18” alloys, and Veloce is written in elegant script above the front wheel arches.

Inside the interior is mostly the same as the standard Giulia. Full leather upholstery comes as standard as does 25W Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, power folding exterior mirrors, and heated 6-way electric front seats including electric side bolster support. Infotainment is provided via Alfa Connect™ with an 8.8” touchscreen with 3D Navigation split screen function, rotary pad control and 8 speakers. The interior quality is okay but there are some very ordinary materials used in places.

Alfa Romeo Giulia review ireland
The interior of the Alfa Romeo Giulia

On the road the Giulia Veloce doesn’t hang about. Plant your foot to the accelerator and the Giulia Veloce takes off as if it's being being chased by a fleet of Ferraris. The acceleration is smooth, linear and urgent. There is no great accompanying roar from the engine, which I was slightly disappointed by, but it does sound more angry with the DNA switch turned to Dynamic.

The Giulia is a real handling star even in its most basic guise. It's light, agile and floats through corners with real elegance and ultimate precision from small turns on the steering wheel. The ride only shows up its firmness over really bad surfaces so for day to day driving, the Giulia Veloce doesn't carry any compromise.

With pricing starting from €54,495, the Giulia Veloce is a bigger investment over the more basic petrols and diesels in the Giulia range. This is an enjoyable car with sweet steering, handling and acceleration that's pleasingly urgent. Alfa has failed to wow inside the car and I think Veloce buyers deserve a bit more fanfare inside. But the Giulia has a certain magic to it that will never fail to get it noticed.

Caroline Kidd

Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce review ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is on sale in Ireland from €54,495

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce
Price: 
€54,495
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
280hp
Torque: 400Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 240km/h
Economy: 
6.1/100km
CO2 emissions: 
141g/km
Motor tax: 
€390 per year


2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the car that is meant to reverse Alfa’s fortunes and bring them back to the glory days. With the arrival of the Stelvio SUV in the autumn, Alfa Romeo looks to be finally getting their act together.

To recap, the Alfa Romeo Giulia picks up where the 159 left off as Alfa’s compact executive saloon contender. This is tough territory with the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 being the household names.

Yet the new Alfa Romeo Giulia can argue a good case. The Giulia sits on an all-new rear wheel drive architecture that promises dynamic handling matched with classic Italian good looks. Could this be enough to have them leaving their German saloons in droves for a slice of the panettone?

Up front, there’s no mistaking the deep, plunging Alfa V-shaped grille. The Giulia plays the role of a sporty saloon very well, hugging the ground exceptionally well. The styling is a bit more generic at the back but the Giulia still looks exotic in the company of competitors.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia looks exotic parked beside competitors

Inside, this is the best interior I’ve seen in an Alfa Romeo for years. Alfa seems to have aimed for a more simplistic design, like the one in the new Audi A4. The quality still feels a little behind the best in class in some places. Infotainment is provided via the UConnect™ 6.5-inch display with rotary pad control on the basic model, with an 8.8-inch screen on higher spec models.

There is seating for five though realistically only two will be comfortable in the back because of the large transmission tunnel, but the boot holds a healthy 480 litres.

There is a range of new, all-aluminium engines for the new Giulia. In Ireland, the majority of buyers are going to go for the 2.2-litre diesel with 150 or 180hp, or maybe take a look at the 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 200hp. Petrol models start at €40,395, while diesels start at €39,995. There are also the Veloce and the Quadrifoglio models, but they are more high performance.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The interior of the Alfa Romeo Giulia

Standard equipment is good including 17” alloys, dual-zone climate control, 3.5-inch TFT colour display, rear parking sensors, automatic light/rain sensors, cruise control, leather steering wheel and ignition start button. ‘Super’ models start from €41,995 and add an 8.8-inch infotainment system with navigation, split screen function and DAB radio. There’s also an electro-chromic auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 7-inch TFT display, aluminium door sills as well as leather and cloth seat trims available in three colour options.

Alfa Romeo Ireland is offering the Super Sport and Super Lux trims for the same price: €42,166. The Giulia Super Sport has 18-inch alloy wheels, painted brake calipers, dark tinted privacy glass and Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs. Inside the leather seats are available in three colour options, and there’s a sports leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, brushed aluminium effect centre console and door moulding inserts, and steering column-mounted gear shift paddles.

The Giulia Super Lux has a rear view camera, adaptive cruise control, power folding exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, Bi-Xenon headlights and 18-inch ‘Luxury’ design alloy wheels.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia has a range of new, all-aluminium engines

My car was the Super Sport with the 2.2-litre diesel with 180hp (€43,966) and it feels more than adequate here with 0-100kmh achieved in just 7.1 seconds. There is some diesel gurgle at idle but it’s very refined at speed. All Giulia’s come with an 8 speed automatic gearbox and it’s a very smooth operator.

The Giulia feels very light and agile on the road and it corners beautifully owing to that new rear wheel drive layout. The steering is also super quick and direct. It’s very quiet in the cabin, as a premium car should be, and the ride quality is excellent too.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia has been one of the most anticipated new cars in years and it is a very seductive car – not just because of the way it looks, but also because it’s really nice to drive as well. The interior lets it down a bit because at this price range it really needs to be of higher quality. But lots of people still love Alfa Romeo cars and on balance the Giulia is still a highly desirable compact executive saloon!

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a highly desirable compact executive saloon

Model Tested: Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Sport 2.2JTD 180hp
Price:  
€43,966 (Range starts at €39,995)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
 180hp
Torque: 450Nm
0-100km/h:
 7.1 seconds
Top speed: 230kmh
Economy:  
67.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
 109g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a compact executive saloon you might also like this review of the Audi A4.


Alfa Romeo Mito Review Ireland

Alfa Romeo Mito Review

Back in 2008, Alfa Romeo debuted the Mito, a spanking new B-segment supermini that would package all the great stuff about Alfa into a compact car with a low entry price into the Alfa range. The Mito was Alfa’s answer to the MINI, but the high-end supermini segment has since burgeoned to include the likes of the Audi A1 and the recently rebranded DS3.

2008 seems an awful long time ago and Mito is now on its second facelift, the first being for the 2014 model. So the Mito is ageing but Alfa has been doing a little refurbishment to give it a chance to still compete.

Luckily they haven’t messed too much with the design. The Mito has an instantly arresting presence, with a design inspired by the 8C Competizione sports car. The styling is classic Alfa in miniature and the signature Alfa deep plunging V-shaped grille, offset number plate and circular rear lights with LEDs ensure that the Mito will not be mistaken for one of its rivals. There is new mesh in the grille, a dark finish to the headlamp bezels, a revised rear bumper design and new alloy wheels, as well as a new Alfa White paint option.

Alfa Romeo Mito Review Ireland
The Mito's classic Alfa in minature styling can still turn heads

With all that style and drama on the outside, getting into the Mito is a bit of a let-down. Style matters so much in this segment but the Mito is much more generic inside and lacks any great distinctive style. Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen that does work well in the centre of the dash. Alfa has updated the seat upholsteries and added a new finish to the centre console, dashboard and door trims and in its favour, the interior does appear very well built.

The Mito is three door only so it can be awkward to get in and out of the back. But once back there, the space is generous enough for this size and design of car and there are three seatbelts.  At 270 litres the boot is about average for a supermini, but the load lip is very high.

A high-end supermini like the Mito must be good to drive and it’s clear that Alfa has worked to create a sporty character for the Mito, but with varying levels of success. The first clue that the Mito might have sporty aspirations is the ride – it’s very firm so you are always aware of the suspension reacting to the changes in the road surface underneath you, and most bizarrely, even when the road ahead looks quite smooth the Mito still manages to pitch.

Alfa Romeo Mito Review Ireland
The interior of the Alfa Romeo Mito is well-built but it's lacking any distinctive style

The up side of all this firmness is that the Mito has excellent body control through corners and resists understeer to make it a nicely flingable play thing in corners. The steering could be better though – it’s okay but a bit too light and vague to be fully engaging.

Help is at hand though in the shape of the DNA driving mode selector. In Dynamic mode (‘D’) there is extra weight in the steering and that makes the Mito much more fun and engaging through a series of corners as there is a greater feeling of resistance against the tarmac when you turn the wheel. And it also makes the throttle response considerably more lively and exciting.

In terms of engines, there’s a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 78hp, a Twinair two cylinder turbo petrol with 105hp, a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 140hp or a 1.3-litre diesel with 95hp. My test car had the 1.3-litre diesel and it is very economical with low emissions. But it is quite a noisy engine and lacks the sort of refinement that you’d expect from an expensive supermini like the Mito. When it’s warmed up, the edge is taken off the crudeness, but you are still very much aware of it. Unless you do high mileage, you’re probably better off with one of the 1.4-litre petrols.

Alfa Romeo Mito Review Ireland
In Ireland the Alfa Romeo Mito is offered with three petrol engines and one diesel

Petrol Mitos start from €18,295 and diesels from €20,545 with three trim levels – an entry model, Super and Super Sport. Standard equipment includes, aircon, 5” touchscreen with Bluetooth, 16" alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, satin chrome-effect exterior detailing (door handles, grille surrounds, headlamp and tail lamp surrounds) and a rear spoiler.

Super adds cruise control, 17" alloys, alarm, front fog lamps, special upholstery with Eco-Leather side bolstering, aluminium sports pedals, footrest and kickplates, chrome effect window sills, and a space-saver spare wheel.

Alfa Romeo Ireland is now offering the top Super Sport trim for just €171 more than Super and it adds red brake callipers, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, 60/40 split folding rear seats and rear privacy glass.

The Alfa Romeo Mito has some tough competition and it does fall short in some key areas. The pricing is good compared to direct competitors but the harsh ride and an interior that’s a bit plain and drab do not swing things in the Mito’s favour. That said it’s still a very likeable small car. In the right conditions, and perhaps without the din of a noisy diesel, the Mito can still be a fun small car to drive.  The Mito does trade a lot on its looks and the prestige of the Alfa badge, but at this end of the market that really matters, and the Mito is certainly not deprived in that area!

Alfa Romeo Mito Review Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Mito is a stylish supermini but it's not without its faults

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 MultiJet 95hp
Price: 
€22,016 (Range starts at €18,295)
Engine:
 1.3-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
95hp
0-100km/h: 
 12.5 seconds
Claimed economy: 
83mpg
CO2 emissions:
  89g/km
Tax band:
€180 per year


Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review (2016)

It’s six years since Alfa Romeo first launched the 147 replacement, the Giulietta. Two facelifts later, the latest which is the subject of this review, and the Giulietta is a car that still can hold interest because a) it’s an Alfa Romeo, a brand with mythical status for a lot of petrolheads, and b) it’s still drop dead gorgeous, which is never a bad thing as you’re getting older.

There’s nothing quite like one of these on the road: the long bonnet, plunging v-shaped grille, offset number plate, and a curvy behind signed off with a flamboyant rear light signature. Changes for 2016 include a honeycomb mesh grille at the front like the one on the new Giulia saloon, but the other updates are so subtle that they’re not even worth talking about. Up until the launch of the new Renault Megane a few weeks ago you could say it was the best looking hatchback on the market. Now I’m not so sure, but the Alfa badge still counts for something and keeps it a step ahead of its more mundane brethren.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland
Dramatic styling that is anything but generic is one of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta's key selling points

It’s not such a positive spin however inside the Giulietta. The actual cabin layout is not bad at all and the uConnect touchscreen might be small but it still ticks the infotainment box, so important in new cars these days. There are swathes of gun metal grey dash finishes and Alcantara trimmed seats so it feels almost posh. The quality of the materials at the tops of the door panels and down around the centre console has been improved since I last drove the Giulietta in 2014, but the overall fit and finish falls short of premium.

Another weakness is that the driving position is not immediately comfortable, requiring a fair bit of adjustment and still feeling odd for a good while thereafter until about Day 3 when you’ve adjusted to the Alfa way of doing things.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland
The interior of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Quality has been improved but it falls short of the best in class.

But with pricing starting at €22,950 for petrols and €25,400 for diesels, the Giulietta is in the reach of more mainstream hatchback buyers than say the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, so certainly on lower specced models you could overlook these foibles.

Alfa has used this facelift to shake up the trim levels and you can now choose from Giulietta, Super, Super Sport and Super Lux. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, Bluetooth, air con, electric windows and mirrors, while Super adds front fog lights, cruise control, dual zone climate control, rear parking sensors and some updated styling inside and out. The Super Sport model on test had 17” alloys, sportier bumpers, side skirts, a carbon look dashboard, Alcantara trimmed seats, aluminium pedals, rear privacy glass and a sports suspension. Super Lux adds a leather interior and a larger uConnect system with navigation.

Cabin space is adequate for a five seat hatchback - not the best but not the worst either. The boot comes in at 330 litres so it’s now on the small side for this class falling about 40/50 litres short of the Opel Astra and Volkswagen Golf, but still larger than the Ford Focus.

The engine range kicks off with a 1.4-litre (120hp) petrol engine while 150hp and 170hp variants are also available. There is also a 1.6-litre (120hp) diesel and a 2.0-litre diesel (150 or 175hp). For the first time the automatic gearbox can be specced with the 1.6-litre diesel.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland
There are a range of petrol and diesel engines available for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The diesels are particularly frugal.

The Giulietta has quite a sporty character on the road. There’s a good deal of steering feel and it goes where you want it to without feeling too loose through bends. The suspension has a firm edge to it so there is the odd thud over potholes, ramps and other obstacles, but it’s definitely not uncomfortable.

All Giuliettas come as standard with the Alfa DNA driving mode selector, with three different settings (D for dynamic, N for natural and A for all weather). It alters the throttle response, traction control and steering weight depending on the mode selected. Dynamic mode is the one we’re most interested in but it’s only really useful in certain situations, for example, a boost in throttle response when overtaking. In town or when pulling off, the throttle is just too sensitive in this mode to make smooth progress without doing gigantic kangaroo jumps forward!

But the Giulietta is still fun to drive in the normal setting and the 2.0-litre (150bhp) diesel feels really quick. The engine can be heard at idle and stopping and starting around town but it’s not too bad at all and this is a mostly refined car for cruising in. It also returns fuel economy in real world driving not too far off the claimed economy of 56mpg.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has a sporty character on the road and good refinement

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is a bit of a mixed bag. Whether it’s good value or not depends on the way you look at it. The engines are strong and frugal, it’s a nice car to drive and the Alfa badge and dramatic styling are very seductive. The cabin quality and few ergonomic idiosyncrasies are probably the weakest points for the Giulietta. But the entry level pricing is actually very competitive so if you can live with a few pitfalls you’ll probably still feel like a winner behind the wheel of the Giulietta.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0JTD 150hp Super Sport
Price: 
€30,500 (Range starts at €22,950)
Engine: 
2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
150bhp
0-100km/h:
8.8 seconds
Economy:
56.5mpg
CO2 Emissions: 
110g/km
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland

 


Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review (2014)

Alfa Romeo’s stylish five door hatchback has been spruced up for 2014 with some minor cosmetic surgery, some new colours and alloy wheel designs, and a mild interior update. More equipment has been added to the range and some more efficient engines. The aim is to make the Giulietta more competitive in the hotly contested medium sized hatchback segment.

Though you would be forgiven for thinking that Alfa Romeos have all but disappeared from Irish roads, there is something of an Alfa Romeo revival going on at the moment, with the arrival of the 4C sports car getting petrolheads all in a lather and also some updates to the Alfas with more mainstream appeal – the MiTo city car and the Giulietta hatch. For a car that’s been around since 2010, has Alfa done enough to keep the Giulietta fresh and desirable

Design

Much of the Giulietta’s charm lies in the way it looks. Alfa’s stylish five door hatchback has some tough competition in this popular segment with the evergreen Volkswagen Golf and the dynamic Ford Focus being the bestsellers. Yet the Giulietta chases them under the carpet in terms of style. The styling is evocative and dramatic all the way from the quirky off set number plate and classic Alfa V-shaped grille at the front, to the sculpted profile and those muscular haunches and distinctive LED rear light clusters at the rear. It’s a seriously classy looking car.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review
Alfa Romeo Giulietta: there's drama in that V-shaped grille!

We expect luxury from an Alfa, and inside the Alfa manages to convince with the help of some very tasty tan leather seats fitted to the top spec Exclusive trim model. The seats are new too and are fabulous – very comfortable and supportive. These things matter!

Alfa has upgraded the quality of some of the materials and trims used in the cabin and there is a new steering wheel design. I wouldn’t say that the cabin is the last word in plushness, and you will still find some hard plastics lurking where Alfa thought we would never look (!). Still it manages to come off as classy and posh and the clean, modern design is easy to navigate.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review
The cabin of the Giulietta feels very classy and very posh

Some of the switchgear, like the chunky temperature and fan control dials are borrowed from the Fiat 500L, but they work well in the Fiat and they work well here too. A touchscreen with Bluetooth and digital radio sits in the centre console and comes standard across the Giulietta range. It’s one of the best systems I’ve used – easy to navigate and pair up the phone to.

There are still a few frustrating things about the cabin. The driving position is a bit odd and it took me a while to get comfortable but there is lots of adjustment in the seat and the steering wheel so it’s just a case of taking the time to settle in. The driver’s armrest, standard on higher trimmed models, is hopeless because you can’t access the handbrake easily when you have it in the down position. Also there is no place to rest your foot when you take it off the clutch pedal. But look, I don’t know anyone who didn’t buy a car because there was nowhere to rest their foot when they took it off the clutch!

Space wise, the Giulietta is not the most spacious hatchback in this class but it is adequate. The rear doors don’t open out exceptionally wide but once in the back it’s really cosy and the classy feel continues with the high shoulder line of the car making it feel nicely private back there.

The boot is 350 litres, not the biggest boot in the class but again still perfectly acceptable, though the high load lip doesn’t make it the most practical. But the rear of the car looks so gorgeous, we can forgive it.

2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review

Driving

The test car was fitted with the 1.6 litre 105bhp diesel unit. Other engine choices include a new 2.0 litre 150bhp diesel and two turbocharged 1.4 litre petrols, one with 120bhp and the other with 170bhp - a real gem by all accounts. Sound insulation has been improved but there is still some audible engine, road and wind noise coming into the cabin - but it is not unpleasant. The 1.6 litre engine is punchy, refined and economical with an official economy of just over 70mpg, though 60mpg is a bit more realistic for day to day driving over a variety of roads.

The steering is light around town and then weights up when you get out on the open road. The level of feel is enough to make this car enjoyable to drive and matched to tidy handling and brakes that respond well for smooth control of the car, the Giulietta feels more sporty than sedate cruiser. The ride is not overly firm but there is very little body roll and loads of grip so it will please those who like a dollop of fun with their hatchback. Despite a sports suspension and 17 inch wheels on the Exclusive model I was driving, I still found the car comfortable - thought it was a bit jarring over very rough roads.

All models get the Alfa DNA driving selector that alters the steering and throttle response depending on the mode you select – ‘D’ for Dynamic, ‘N’ for Natural (formerly Normal) and ‘A’ for all-weather. There is a notable difference between Natural and Dynamic. In Dynamic mode, you get this little surge of power and the Giulietta turns into a bit of a racer with razor sharp throttle and weightier steering for more precision. You can have a bit of fun with it. But at low speeds, it’s like trying to control an overexcited dog on a lead - the throttle is just too eager! But it’s definitely fun to experiment with it out on the open road.

Economy

The 1.6 litre diesel comes with fuel saving stop start as standard and CO2 emissions are just 104g/km so you will pay €190 to tax it per year. Official economy is 70.6mpg.

Equipment

There are three trim levels, Progression, Distinctive and Exclusive, which is the one we have here. All cars come with electric windows, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, air con, 16” alloy wheels and the aforementioned touchscreen. Go up to Distinctive trim for fog lamps, parking sensors and cruise control. Top spec models in Exclusive trim get 17-inch alloy wheels,  new leather/micro-fibre upholstery, auto lights and wipers, electric-folding door mirrors, dark tinted windows, an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, a rear arm-rest and electric front-seat lumbar support, sports suspension, sports leather steering wheel with red stitching, aluminium sports pedals and kick-plates, darkened headlight clusters, satin-effect mirror covers and side body skirts.

Verdict

The Giulietta stands out for its style and seductive looks. The seduction continues inside with a classy, well-turned out cabin. Thankfully, the Giulietta does not disappoint behind the wheel either, and those who like a sporting feel will enjoy the tidy handing and that DNA driving selector.

But if we are talking about you spending your money on an Alfa Romeo, we need to talk about reliability. The good news is that the quality has improved in recent years but for extra peace of mind, all Alfa Romeos sold in Ireland come with a five year warranty.

With the petrol range starting at €22,500 and the diesel range starting at €24,500, the Giulietta is not the cheap option. But for those sexy looks, an extra bit of exclusivity and the prestige of the Alfa Romeo badge, the Giulietta is a refreshing alternative in the medium-sized hatchback segment.

Model tested: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 JTDm-2 105bhp Exclusive
Price: 
€28,250 (Giulietta range starts at €22,500)
Engine: 
1.6 litre four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 
105bhp
0-100km/h:  
11.3 seconds
Economy: 
70.6mpg (4.0l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  
104g/km
Tax band: 
A3 (€190 per year)

Caroline Kidd