Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review For Ireland

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0-litre 150bhp JTD Review

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 Giulietta Review

Review: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 JTDm-2 105bhp Exclusive

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

You can watch my video review of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta here.

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