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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Review

Find out more about the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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6
Out of 10
Average Price £12,191
Model Review

The Giulietta name has been a part of Alfa Romeo’s line-up in the past as a compact executive car and also as a spider version in the 50s and 60s, before returning as a saloon in 1978.

After production stopped in 1984, the Giulietta moniker was shelved for over 25 years, but was brought back in the shape of the new hatchback in 2010.

Built on Fiat’s Compact platform, the Giulietta only comes in a five-door layout – which is probably for the best – and was a replacement for the 147.

Alfa also produced a ‘Quadrifoglio Verde’ or Clover Leaf version for the UK market, which came with a 237bhp petrol engine and could get from 0-60mph in six seconds flat

Latest Model

Rather than coming in different generations, Alfa Romeo focus more on facelifts every few years and the Giulietta has gone through two facelifts during its current stretch on the market, with the latest coming in 2016.

With the update came a slightly altered exterior, a new diesel option and a sportier setup, which thankfully didn’t affect the exterior looks and its sharp driving feel.

Unfortunately, despite the update, the diesel engines are still quite unrefined and can feel grumbly. The Clover Leaf model was also replaced by the Veloce trim level as Alfa realigned their specification line-up.

With the 2016 refresh also came the Uconnect live update system for the satellite navigation and in-car services, new alloy choices and design packs for improved looks.

 

Value for money

As premium hatchbacks go, the Giulietta does come with a reasonable spec for its starting price of £19,715, and with it you get 16-inch alloys, a multi-functional leather steering wheel, Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth, Aux and USB connections, and DAB radio.

You also get manual climate control, electric windows, 60/40 split folding rear seats, electrically adjustable wing mirrors, double chrome Racing exhausts, rear spoiler, brake assistance system and Vehicle Dynamic Control with Alfa’s DNA system. For a mid-size hatchback that’s a good amount of kit to get your teeth into.

But there are options on the used market that have a similar level of tech but come with more power and sportier styling. For example, a 2013 version of the Giulietta Cloverleaf – which is fitted with a 237bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine – is on the market for £12,990.

Coming with full leather upholstery, sports seats, sports steering wheel, cruise control, traction control, red Brembo calipers, 18-inch alloys, Bluetooth phone interface, refrigerated glovebox and dual digital climate control.

Also having covered 35,140 miles, this car has been well run-in but may be a risk with Alfa Romeo’s poor reliability record.

 

Looks and image

The main attraction of many Alfa Romeos is the fact they are usually the most stylish in their sector and the case is the same with the Giulietta.

The sculpted bonnet is in line with the instantly recognisable Alfa inverted triangle grille and the roof line is smooth and very pleasing to the eye. Many of the alloys are also very stylish and it generally looks very nice, but the back end is a bit safe and even resembles a Toyota Auris if you look at it for too long.

The interior design is quite pleasing also and does mirror the outside in sense, but rivals have a better finish to offer and some materials used just don’t feel that great to the touch. Veloce models are particularly nice to look at and be in.

Despite Alfa’s heritage of having fun and well-handling cars, the Giulietta doesn’t quite evoke the same sort of emotions as other Alfas have done.

Yes, it corners well with little body lean and with responsive steering, but it doesn’t quite move you like an Alfa should and feel is a bit poor. Other similarly sized and well-established hatchbacks like the VW Golf and Ford Focus both have better balance and a more refined drive.

The DNA system does noticeably change how it feels to drive, but all settings have downsides. For example, in Dynamic the power delivery is noticeably quicker and the ride is firmer, but the steering somehow feels heavier and not quite as responsive, which is annoying.

Comfort also isn’t quite there, as the suspension is stiff to prevent body roll but that compromises the ride heavily. The Giulietta feels jiggly over most road surfaces and you can really feel potholes, ruts and expansion joints throughout the whole cabin.

It also feels a bit cramped up front, with the driving position sitting not particularly well and the peddles are too close together. The seats also don’t hold you particularly well and if you attack a corner with some vigour you will slide about. You won’t hear much outside noise though and it is quiet while cruising.

Space and practicality

Even if the Giulietta is one of the longest vehicles in its segment, it strangely lacks interior space and that affects pretty much everyone. If you’re tall in any of the seats you might find your head touching the roof due to the sloping roof line and rear legroom is pretty poor as well considering the size of the car.

The boot space is on par with its rivals at 350 litres at that can be extended when you fold the 60/40 split rear seats down. But apart from that stowage space isn’t particularly great and in-cockpit storage is pretty poor. Many of its rivals do much better at accommodating.

The Giulietta scored five stars in Euro NCAP tests when it was put through its paces, but that was back in 2010 and since then it hasn’t really advanced particularly far considering how much motoring safety has in the same time.

You do get emergency braking from the latest update, but that’s about it. You get the standard six airbags that you should expect nowadays, as well as ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution, but it really does lack anything helpful by modern standards, and Alfa has really missed the boat on that front.

For families this could be a strange one as it does come with Isofix points on the rear seats, but accessibility and storage room is quite poor.

Also the Giulietta’s safety systems haven’t been updated and that could worry parents, especially as autonomous safety systems have advanced significantly and are more readily available. Overall there are other mid-size hatchbacks that do a better job and the Giulietta could be low down the lists of many families.

 

Engines

To cover a wide range of tastes, the Giulietta comes with a good selection of engines – four petrol options and three choices of diesel power. For petrol engines they offer a 120bhp 1.4-litre unit (which is only available with the base Giulietta), two MultiAir version with two states of tune – 150bhp and 170bhp – and the 1750 TBi unit that is a 1.7-litre unit producing 240bhp and is only available with the Veloce.

On some power options you get the choice of a manual or Alfa’s TCT automatic gearbox. For diesel options, all the power units come in the shape of the 1.6-litre JTDM-2 unit and comes in the guise of 120bhp, 150bhp and 170bhp, with the option to choose between manual and auto.

 

Running costs

As you would expect the diesel options offer a better fuel economy and lower emissions, and the best of the bunch is the 120bhp version as it returns 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km CO2 with a manual or automatic box. Road tax, therefore, is £120 for the first year. That being said the rest of the diesel range can all return above 65mpg and emit no more than 113g/km, meaning road tax of £160 maximum.

Oddly the best petrol option is the 170bhp MultiAir as it returns 57.7mpg and emits 114g/km – which is impressive going – and even the Veloce-only 240bhp version can get 41.5mpg. Max road tax for the Giulietta is £500 in the first year, with £140 the charge for all vehicles every year thereafter.

Things to look out for

Despite Alfa’s less than brilliant past in terms of reliability, only one recall has befallen the Giulietta. Wiring looms were coming loose in 2.0-litre MultiJet models with TCT transmissions and they were causing the auto box to malfunction – it only affected 878 models. But the brand has been known to perform poorly with reliability in the recent past, so the Giulietta must have a close eye kept on it at all times.

 

Rivals

As the Giulietta fits into the rather competitive premium hatchback sector, it could be argued it is out of its depth thanks to the Mercedes A-Class, Seat Leon, VW Golf, BMW 1 Series and Ford Focus all leading the segment. Audi’s A3, the Lexus CT, the Infiniti Q30 and Volvo V40 are also high-quality options and the Giulietta may sway customers by its looks and sometimes improved efficiency on some of its close rivals.

 

Depreciation warning

The Giulietta isn’t the most desirable car on the used market, but should still return a respectable 42 to 45 per cent return on investment after three years – which is pretty standard for the sector. The higher powered Veloce however will not perform as well as other hot hatches, like the VW Golf GTI at around 38 per cent.

Which Giulietta to Pick

Trims Explained

Alfa Romeo offers five trim levels for the Giulietta – Giulietta, Super, Tecnica, Speciale and Veloce – and you do get a good amount of accessories with each one.

Giulietta

Giulietta models come with 16-inch alloy wheels, Alfa’s Uconnect system with Bluetooth, Aux/USB and DAB radio, multi-functional leather steering wheel, electric windows, manual climate control, split folding rear seats, double chrome racing exhaust, rear spoiler, sports dials, six airbags, emergency braking, ABS and vehicle dynamic control with Alfa’s DNA system.

Prices for the Giulietta start from £19,715.

Super

For the Super models, Alfa don’t add too many accessories in number but they do certainly add to the value of the car. You get dual zone automatic climate control, cooled glove box, rear air vents, rear parking sensors and Start&Stop system.

It adds more value, but the starting price is £22,230, which is quite a leap for little change.

Tecnica

The Tecnica trim also adds little but starting prices are lower than for Super models. You get a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth and DAB radio, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, side skirts and the Visibility pack as standard.

Despite having more equipment than the Super spec, Tecnica prices start from £20,580, so could be the best model to go for.

Speciale

Speciale models gain 18-inch alloy wheels, carbon finishing on the headlights, the Veloce and Visibility packs, fabric and alcantara sports seats and red brake calipers. With this model you get more of a sporty feel.

It starts at £25,620 and with the 170bhp petrol could be a mini Veloce model and more to people’s liking.

Veloce

The Veloce model is the sportiest of the lineup and includes sports pedals, a sporty steering wheel, a six-speed TCT automatic gearbox, darkened windows, Veloce-specific alloys and a more dynamic feel.

In Summary

  1. Nice to look at
  2. Engines are quite efficient
  3. Trim levels don’t offer much variation
  4. Prices are a bit steep
  5. Out of its depth compared to some rivals
  6. Drives well enough but not the best
  7. Space is poor considering its size
  8. Not many issues
  9. Can feel firm
  10. Average running costs