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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review & Road Test: Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 Veloce (2011) Part 2

Mon, 13 Jun 2011

The interior of the Alfa Giulietta - a nice place

The Giulietta is up against some stiff competition from the sector big boys – the VW Golf and the Ford Focus – and for all the visual appeal Alfas have traditionally had, that’s never been enough.

And at first glance the Giulietta – which looks a bit like a MiTo after a course of steroids – doesn’t even tick all the sexy boxes. Instead of flowing lines we look for in an Alfa it’s all a bit blobby. And yet…

It’s a grower – a real grower – and within a day or two it starts to make you smile as you walk towards it. It looks different. And different is good, when everything else in its sector looks corporate.

So although the Giulietta doesn’t smack you in the face with its beauty, it only takes a short while to conclude that although it may not be beautiful in the traditional sense, it’s as sexy as hell. Why does that remind me of Uma Thurman?

Inside is sexy too, with some nice metallic finishes on offer on the dash and a layout that is more stylish than functional, but that’s very pleasing to the eye. Up front is comfy and there’s enough head and leg room – even if it is all very short legs and long arms – and the back is…average. You can get in, but you won’t get comfy unless you’re vertically challenged.

But what about the drive? All that sexiness is no good unless it thrills – you’d soon get bored just looking. There’s no mileage in style without substance, except perhaps in the short term.

The promise on the oily front is hopeful. This particular Giulietta boasts a 1.4 litre Multiair petrol lump with no less than 168bhp and a decent lump of torque. That drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual ‘box, with the McPherson Struts at the front and a Multi-link setup at the back, offering the promise of decent handling.

And the Giulietta is a decent drive. It handles rather like a Golf, which is probably a very good selling point, even if a bit of a letdown for Alfa fans. This is Alfa doing mainstream with some predictable – and flat – handling and performance.

But the Giulietta does have a trick up its sleeve with its DNA settings. These come with the option of Normal or Dynamic, and if you’ve bought the Alfa to drive then you’ll want to flick it in to Dynamic every time you sit behind the wheel.

Dynamic mode changes the steering effort, throttle response, ESP intrusion and the electronic diff, and transforms the car in to something that’s enormous fun to chuck around. Gone is the fail-safe Golf-esque handling, and instead some proper Italian flair gets served up.

The engine is a masterpiece of frugality and performance, turning in a 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and averaging 48mpg (although we got less). It revs like a petrol engine should rev, and although it’s smooth and quite when you’re dawdling it barks like an Alfa when you give it the beans.

A great little car to drive, the Giulietta is fluid and supple with sweet steering, great grip and the ability to take your inputs and translate them in to a competence that sometimes belies your clumsiness. It forgives when driven less than perfectly and rewards when you concentrate.

Alfa served up the MiTo and made it a contender in its class, with a great balance of fun and individuality and residuals that match the best. They’ve turned the exact same trick with the Giulietta and delivered a car that can match the Golfs and the Focuses on the boring stuff like build quality, failsafe handling and residuals, but scores huge brownie points with a great dose of fun and sexy looks.

How could you resist?

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 Veloce Specifications

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By Cars UK