What is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta?
The Giulietta is a car for those who are bored by the usual suspects from Audi, Ford and Volkswagen. Think of it as an Italian Golf that offers all the practicality of a five-door hatchback but with a badge on the bonnet that says you’re not just a number.
Its price ranges from £17,765 to £26,660, a hefty outlay, but you do get a machine of expressive design, as interesting to look at both inside and out as its rivals are conservative. The big step forward here is that whereas in the past Alfas would demand compromises of their owner, the Giulietta is free from quirks and as user-friendly as you could wish for.
The whole range of petrol and diesel engines is impressive, in terms of outright performance, frugality and emissions — an important consideration for running costs, road tax and company car tax.
It’s an Alfa Romeo, but that doesn’t mean every drive will make you feel as though you’re ascending the dizzying heights of Italy’s Stelvio pass in a red-blooded sports car. Despite wearing the Alfa Romeo badge — with its intimations of more than 100 years of motor racing heritage — the Giulietta offers a driving experience similar to that of other cars in the class.
All models feature a “DNA” system that varies the settings of the suspension and the urgency of throttle response for dynamic, normal and all-weather driving, which sounds exciting but proves to be underwhelming in practice. Not one of the settings delivers the goods, leaving us to conclude that Alfa would have been better off asking its engineers to develop a uniform setup and dropping the DNA marketing gimmick altogether. The Ford Focus and VW Golf offer a superior combination of ride comfort, steering precision and balanced road-holding.
Of the diesel engines, our pick would be the 138bhp 2-litre unit, as it serves up strong performance from as low as 1500rpm, is refined and will comfortably return more than 50mpg. Even better is the punchy 168bhp 1.4-litre turbo TB MultiAir.
The days of Alfa Romeos being the car of choice for those with the physical features of an orang-utan are behind us. The driving position of the Giulietta is comfortable and adjustable in every which way, and the dashboard’s controls are logically located and clearly presented.
Of greater note is the design and general ambience created through the use of upmarket fixtures and fittings — something we never thought we’d say about an Alfa. This feels a special place to be, much more than with a Ford or Vauxhall, and there’s comfortably space for four adults — five if you don’t mind getting cosy. As for the boot, its 350-litre capacity is competitive, the rear seats split and fold to accommodate bulky loads and there are two Isofix mounts for child seats.
The one to buy
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir Lusso
- £20,515 (correct at time of publication)
- 1368cc, 4 cylinders, turbo, petrol
- 168bhp @ 5500rpm
- 184 lb ft @ 2500rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 7.8sec
- Top speed