See, EVs can be fun
At a glance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Performance
  • Design
  • Interior
  • Practicality
  • Costs
Perfectly-judged performance
Supreme grip and poise
Looks terrific and is practical, too
Driving quickly will rinse the battery
Pedal box is too tight
Peugeot in evidence inside
  • Variant: Alfa Romeo Junior Elettrica 240hp Veloce
  • Price: £42,295
  • Engine: 207kW electric motor
  • Power: 237bhp
  • Torque: 177 lb ft @ 0-6,000rpm
  • Transmission: Single speed (automatic), front-wheel drive
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph: 5.9sec
  • Top Speed: 124mph
  • Fuel: Range: 255 miles combined (WLTP); Charge from 10-80%: <30mins @ 100kW DC
  • co2: 0g/km
  • Road tax band: Free until April 2025
  • Dimensions: TBC
  • Release Date: On sale now

Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce review 2024: The Goldilocks-approved electric sports crossover

Junior name, grown-up thrills

More Info

Alfa Romeo wants its new electric crossover, called the Junior, to be all things to all people. “It will attract women and men alike,” we were told at the launch in Italy. Young people will like it thanks to its easy-to-drive nature, and “most important it will attract those who are not into cars,” opening up the brand to “a new generation of Alfa Romeo lovers.” And yet, it has a “spark of sportiness” that means enthusiasts will relish getting behind the wheel, too.

What’s more, it’s a compact car with lots of interior space, the product chief told us, making it perfect for families. And there’s a choice of hybrid or pure-electric powertrains, the former gaining a four-wheel-drive version by the end of 2024, and the latter available now in standard form or in a more powerful “Veloce” guise – tested here – by year end. Prices start at £33,895 and rise to £42,295 for the sportiest model, which seems a lot but most definitely isn’t taking the piss these days.

Can one car really suit everyone? Well, the Junior Veloce comes close, it turns out.

You might have seen early previews of this car in which it was referred to as the Milano. Apparently that name had to be scrapped because the Italian government, in a move that is the height of Italian-ness, ruled that a car built in Poland cannot be named after an Italian city. The fact that the Junior was designed, developed and tested in Italy makes no odds, apparently.

Alfa Romeo Junior front end

It feels very Italian, too, in the best possible way. Ignore its rather uninspiring profile and vaguely Kia EV6-esque rear lightbar and it has a beautifully-designed front end, proudly sporting Alfa’s Visconti serpent and part of the Milan municipality cross within the grille. It also has a very Italian touch in that it’s an asymmetric front end, with the air intakes on one side blanked off in an effort to improve aerodynamics. Enough cooling is gained from the open vents on the other side, apparently.

Then there are the wheels, which are so very Alfa Romeo. Works of art in themselves.

Alfa Romeo Junior rear 3/4

In the main the Junior Veloce is an attractive machine inside, too, with Alfa’s characteristic double-cowled instrument binnacle framing a pleasingly laid-out fully digital display. A decent mix of materials help lift what is a typically dark Alfa Romeo cabin.

You drop yourself into the front sports seats, being careful to avoid what my wife once dubbed the “snatch catch” – the seat base’s overgrown side support, which are pronounced on the Junior, and you feel well supported in all the right areas. It suggests this is an electric car designed for people who seek out cornering thrills, not just the eco-minded.

Alfa Romeo Junior interior

The central display is angled towards the driver, and Alfa Romeo has wisely keep a number of physical buttons and switches, rather than moving everything onto the touchscreen, which means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road when changing the temperature, for example. And the Alcantara-like material on the seats and steering wheel add a sporty touch. It’s a decent layout, for sure.

But it’s not all good news. Anyone who’s been in a Peugeot recently will notice the shared switchgear: the drive and mode selectors, for example, come from Alfa’s sister brand within the Stellantis Group. The touchscreen itself is rather lacklustre, as with almost all Stellantis products, with a baffling layout and slow reaction speeds. Then there are the ticky-tacky plastics used for the air vents, which feel a little flimsy, and the door trim. The window switches, too, feel a bit low rent for such a hallowed sporting brand.

Alfa Romeo Junior interior

But forget all that, because Alfa Romeos have always been about the way they drive. I was once told that with an Alfa, you buy the engine and rest comes free. It was slightly cruel but at that point in the brand’s history, there was a kernel of truth in it. Fortunately, you don’t get that impression with the Junior at all – both it and Alfa Romeo more generally are much better all rounders these days – but it’s still true to say that the heart of an Alfa is still the motor, so quite rightly the electric powerplant used here faced much scrutiny from the assembled press.

And again, it more than passes muster. Put your foot down and you don’t get lightning performance but with 237bhp on tap and the immediate torque (twisting force) delivery offered by an electric motor, it most definitely feels quicker than most petrol hot hatches on offer today. For those who’re interested, there’s 254lb ft available from 0rpm all the way up to 6,000rpm before it starts to dip.

Alfa Romeo Junior cornering

What’s more, we were able to exploit the car’s full potential as the entirety of the test drive experience was conducted at Stellantis’ Balocco proving ground near Milan, which includes twisty, undulating road sections, bumps to simulate hitting particularly nasty sleeping policemen and an F1-spec racing circuit designed in part by Michael Schumacher. And at every corner we showed it, the Junior Veloce felt so pleasingly hooked up that you could forget you’re in an EV at all.

A large part of that is down to the latest Torsen “Type-D” limited-slip differential specific to the Veloce model, which distributes the torque from the motor to the front wheel that has the most grip. That, combined with special Michelin tyres, a quick steering rack, unique springs, double-stop dampers and a sports anti-roll bar, results in a very sticky front end that goes wherever you point it even when you’re near the limit of what you think is possible.

Alfa Romeo Junior driving side view

Understeer is not a word this car knows, and in fact I managed to lose the back end during one high-speed right-hander on the F1 track. Rather than freaking out the Junior felt controlled and predictable, and I was able to quickly gather it up and press on.

There’s also a blissful absence of a dip in power when you plant your right foot mid-corner. In some other EVs, the electronics onboard have a wobble if you mash the accelerator during a turn, but with the Junior there’s not a bit of it – there’s consistent performance there, and the car is reacting to your inputs rather than constantly trying to rein you in.

The only real grumble I had behind the wheel was that the pedal box is too tight, and my size 13s sometimes found themselves clipping both pedals at the same time if I didn’t take utmost care.

Alfa Romeo Junior front driving

Of course, hammering an EV around a race track is not great in terms of range; 40 minutes of hard driving around Balocco resulted in half the battery being depleted. Treat it sensibly and in warm weather the official range is 255 miles per charge, so expect over 200 miles most of the time. Charging up, by the way, takes less than 30 minutes from 10-80 per cent at a 100kW rapid charger.

Driving the Junior Veloce hard for 40 minutes severely punished the tyres, of course. At 1,590kg the Junior is far from a hefty car in EV terms, but it’s still got more than 100kg of bulk over a Golf GTI, which is like carrying around Dwayne Johnson in the passenger seat all the time.

But is it worse to drive than a Golf GTI? No, I wouldn’t say so… it’s just as grin-inducing. While Teslas and Porsche EVs, for example, may have a great deal more straight line speed, the performance of the Alfa Junior Veloce is in a Goldilocks zone – not too much, not too little. It is, quite simply, fun. Hyundai managed this with the (admittedly much more powerful) Ioniq 5 N, and now Alfa Romeo has created another EV that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Importantly, it’s not an intimidating car to drive, there’s a 400-littre boot and space for five people, and it’s a doddle to navigate around towns. That’s men, women, young drivers, older drivers, families, enthusiast, non-enthusiasts all covered. All things to all people? This is as close as it gets.

Will Dron can be found on Bluesky

Related articles

Latest articles