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Alfa Romeo Giulietta

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Whatcar? Review

For

The Giulietta looks great and is available with some good engines. Most versions are well priced and equipped, and are cheap to run.

Against

Rear-seat space, cabin quality and ride comfort disappoint. Refinement is another weakness, and while you can adjust the driving characteristics at the flick of a switch, the Giulietta is never really fun to drive.

Summary

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is a stylish alternative to the class favourites, but it disappoints in too many areas to threaten them.

Performance

The Giulietta has a wide range of engines, all of which are turbocharged, and even the least powerful ones gives decent performance. Petrol fans can choose from 1.4s with either 118 or 168bhp, or a 237bhp 1.7 that’s fast enough to frighten all but the hottest hatches. The diesels are a 103bhp 1.6 and a couple of 2.0-litre units, with either 148 or 172bhp. The 2.0-litre versions are fast, but the 1.6 is flexible enough that you don't need to spend the extra.

Ride & Handling

You can tailor the Giulietta’s accelerator and steering responses by selecting between three modes. Whichever you choose, you don’t get much steering feel, though, and you’ll want to avoid Dynamic mode in town because the accelerator is so sensitive that it’s hard to drive the car smoothly. The ride is decidedly clunky, too, but the Giulietta’s decent body control makes it feel reasonably nimble in bends.

Refinement

The petrol engines are smooth when you want them to be, and have an appealing growl when you work them hard. The smaller diesel is pretty good, too, but the 2.0-litre ones are grumbly and whoosh loudly when you accelerate. Wind and road noise also intrude, and the manual gearshift is quite notchy. At least the TCT automatic gearbox is smooth.

Buying & Owning

Like-for-like, the Giulietta undercuts its key rivals on price, and it holds its value well. Claimed fuel economy and CO2 emissions are also competitive no matter which version you choose, and the Giulietta performed extremely well in our True MPG tests.

Quality & Reliability

The Giulietta looks classy on the outside, but its cabin is a little disappointing, because the materials in the lower reaches are pretty hard and scratchy. What’s more, the metallic highlights on its centre console are disappointingly plasticky and the indicator and wiper stalks feel a bit lightweight. Alfa’s reliability record is poor; the Giulietta finished near the bottom of all the cars featured in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.

Safety & Security

Stability control, front, side and curtain airbags, and active anti-whiplash front head restraints are all fitted as standard. What’s more, the Giulietta was awarded an excllent score in its Euro NCAP crash test. Every version gets deadlocks and marked parts, while Distinctive models and above come with an alarm.

Behind The Wheel

The Giulietta’s pedals are all at different heights, which means it’s more difficult than it should be to move from one to another, while the clutch is very close to the centre console, so you can’t rest your left foot alongside. To make matters worse, the seats don’t hold you in place particularly well and the steering wheel is too high, even when it’s in its lowest setting. At least the dashboard controls are simple to use.

Space & Practicality

The Giulietta is longer than a VW Golf but, although there’s plenty of space upfront, rear head- and kneeroom are below average for the class. The door pockets are also pretty small, but there’s some useful oddment storage between the front seats. Boot space is no better than reasonable, and there’s a high lip to load items over.

Equipment

Entry-level Progression cars come with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, DAB radio and Bluetooth. We'd go for Distinctive spec, which adds dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and cruise control. The more expensive versions look sportier and are well equipped, but the cheaper models are the better buys.