The Giulietta has proven a terrifically popular model for Alfa Romeo, epitomizes the style and flair that the Italian brand is known for. It certainly isn’t difficult to see why this beautiful car might create a positive first impression on consumers!
But what happens when you dig a little deeper? Do the initial fireworks of great looks and sporty performance frizzled out in the face of ‘real life’ practicalities? Or is the Giulietta a vehicle that can truly steal a march on the best small family cars out there, like the VW Golf and Audi A3.
Looks: Is That A Supercar In My Drive?
First things first. The Giulietta is quite a tidy looking machine. There can be no doubt that Alfa have poured all of their aesthetic craftsmanship into this car. It’s no mean feat to close the gap so markedly between supercar and family hatchback! But this functional 5-door does indeed bring to mind the perfection that was exhibited in Alfa’s most recent concept car, the 8C.
Everything from the delightfully shaped bonnet, to the triangular grille, to the sleek windows and sculpted waistline is executed with an awareness of form that, frankly, only Alfa possess. It’s a true visual treat from all angles, and is especially stunning in red or white.
Performance: Beyond The First Impressions
There’s an obvious danger in making a car as attractive as the Giulietta: it tees up the critics for a great big ‘BUT’. When it comes to performance though, Alfa Romeo engineering is up there with the best. There is a wide selection of fantastic petrol and diesel engines, with horsepower ranging from 105-170.
A very popular choice, and the one I’ve tried out, is the 1.4 Turbo Multi-Air petrol unit. 170 brake horsepower takes you from stationary to the 60mph mark in 7.8 seconds. Fuel consumption and emissions are amongst the lowest for any 5 door hatchback, making very easy on the wallet.
When you hop inside the Giulietta for the first time, still grinning with the visual image of the exterior, the manner in which it handles is reassuringly good. The first potential opportunity for, “Yeah it looks great, but…”, is lost as the car glides around corners with an ease that keeps the smile on your face!
Most people who purchase an Alfa Romeo, whatever model, tend to slightly prioritize the excitement and feel of a car over its reliability. You expect great performance that’s a bit different, a bit unconstrained, a bit…Italian. So what’s it like using the DNA system that Alfa have become so proud of?
“DNA” stands for “ Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather, referring to the driving modes that can be easily selected by a manual switch to best suit conditions. I started out in Dynamic and was immediately impressed by the sensitivity of the steering, which made cornering a pleasure. The throttle is also extremely sensitive in this mode. In fact, it’s so sensitive that I found it tricky at times to accelerate smoothly. For this reason I was glad to have the ‘Normal’ option available, particularly when heading into town where it’s a safer option. But calming down the throttle does, unfortunately, go hand in hand with reducing the steering sensitivity. Steering in Normal mode is, in all honesty, a bit sluggish.
This is a real shame because the potential for superb performance is all there; it’s just fragmented between the different drive modes. I’d love to experience the Giulietta with a combination of Normal and Dynamic modes. So this gives me my first real opportunity for a “but…”, and does slightly reduce the size of that smile!
Inside: The Lowdown For Driver and Passengers
Let’s start from a driver’s point of view. Just about the first thing I did when I got in the car was to adjust the wheel and seat. I’m happy to report that both of these have a lot of adjustment in them, which allowed me to get into an ideal position easily. Although, this comfort was slightly let down by the fact that I didn’t have any space in which to rest my left foot next to the clutch pedal, due to the position of the centre column.
There’s a decent Infotainment system, with a nice screen and audio controls on the steering wheel. Integrated Bluetooth (in the form of Alfa’s ‘Blue&Me’ technology) comes with 1 spec up from the entry-level. The sound quality is excellent thanks to Bose speakers, which have an output of 500 watts.
The only other small point to mention from a driver’s perspective is that rear visibility is pretty weak. Personally I never like having to over-rely on the wing mirrors, but when it comes to all-round safety (which we’ll look at shortly) the Giulietta doesn’t have any excuses to make.
As a passenger in this car, I think my ear-to-ear grin from looking at the design would all but vanish on stepping into the back seats. A quick trial and I found the leg room just about manageable, but the low roof line forced me to sit low in my seat. I’m fairly tall, so for families whose passengers are usually children this might not matter. But I still think the rear seats are a no-go for claustrophobics!
Plenty of space has been given over to the boot. There’s ample room to bundle luggage for 4 people in here, which makes up for the limited seating room. In fact, it’s very impressive that the sleek and elegant design can accommodate this kind of storage area.
Safety: Euro NCAP’s Verdict
In my view, looks and safety are the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s trump cards. The standard Euro NCAP tests, against which the safety performance of all vehicles is measured, yielded outstanding results for the Giulietta. Not only did it obtain the full 5 stars, but an overall crash test score of 87/100 was the best score for a car in this class…ever!
The Giulietta is the best-looking 5 door family hatchback that I have ever seen, from any era. It is highly Italian in its styling, and will put some drivers in a good mood for the rest of the day, just from seeing it parked in their drive first thing in the morning! A few shortcomings with the DNA system and limited rear seat space might prevent it from usurping top models like the VW Golf. But, with unrivalled safety credentials and looks, plus that Italian flair, it’s not difficult to explain the Giulietta’s popularity.
Guest Post written by Josh from countymotorworks.co.uk
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