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Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2012 Rview

The car sits well on the road and cruises easily and frugally in top gear, with plenty of torque to keep it there.

You've got to hand it the Italians, they know a thing or two about style. Nowhere is this more evident than in Alfa Romeo's new Giulietta, a replacement for the aging 147. It simply oozes the stuff.

VALUE

Priced from $41,990, this car certainly has what it takes to steal some hearts from Volkswagen.

DESIGN

Here's hoping the Giulietta breaks the mould, that it proves to be every bit as robust as the Volkswagen Golf with which it competes. The name Giulietta is a borrowed from Alfa's heyday, a series of compact, sedan, coupe and convertibles built over a decade during the 50s and 60s.

Unlike its namesake however this one is a five-door hatch, but like the 156 before the rear doors feature concealed door handles, giving it the appearance of a sportier three-door. Finished in white with elegant 18 inch charcoal alloys, our test vehicle bore more than a passing resemblance to the smaller Mito with its beak like grille and wide-eyed stare.

The interior, with its metal gear knob and prominent, large round climate controls is a work of art. Standard features are generous. The Cloverleaf model gets 10mm lower sports suspension, sports seats in mircofibre and leather with red stitching, Bose sound, tinted windows, red brake callipers and dark titanium 18 inch spoke alloys.

TECHNOLOGY

Giulietta comes in two guises, powered by two different engines, a 125kW 1.4 or 173kW 1.7-litre four - both of them turbocharged. Our test vehicle, the top of the line Giulietta QV clover leaf edition reminded me strongly of the oft lamented 147 GTA - a real ball tearer of a car.

The figures are similar too. The GTA's 3.2-litre V6 produced 184kW of power at 6200 revs and 300Nm of torque at 4800 revs. In comparison the Giulietta's 1750 TBI engine delivers 173kW of power at 5500 revs and 340Nm of torque at 1900 revs in dynamic mode.

The two share a similar top speed of about 240km/h, but the GTA was still a little quicker from 0 to 100km/h, at 6.3 seconds versus 6.8. The good news however is that the QV uses just 7.6 litres per 100km - the GTA used twice that figure on a good day.

SAFETY

Alfa's DNA dynmaic ride control is standard, letting you choose between normal, dynamic and all-weather modes. In dynamic mode extra torque is available lower in the rev range and the electronic stability system is less intrusive, the throttle is also more responsive, the steering becomes heavier and the electronic diff is activated.

The Electronic Q2 differential and the Vehicle Dynamic Control are standard on this model, along with six airbags and a five-safety rating.

DRIVE

Jumping into the car for the first time we discovered it has the same feel and propensity for spinning the front wheels, but none of the GTA's heaviness or awkwardness. The 1.7-litre engine is hooked up to a six-speed manual that is generallty easy to use but baulks at going into first occasionally.

The car sits well on the road and cruises easily and frugally in top gear, with plenty of torque to keep it there. Slipping it into dynamic mode, you can feel the difference immediately, as the front wheels fitht to maintain contact with the road. You can drive it hard or you can drive it easily, it's a car for both occasions.

VERDICT

We love driving Alfas but take comfort in the knowledge that at the end of the day we can take them back. If only they were more reliable.

ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA QV

Price: $41,990
Warranty: 3 years, 100,000km, roadside assist
Resale: 65%
Service interval: 20,000km or 12 months
Economy: 7.6 l/100km; 177g/km CO2
Safety: six airbags, ESC, ABS, EBD, EBA, TC.
Crash rating: 5 star
Engine: 173kW/340Nm 1.75-litre turbo-petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body: 5-door, 5 seats
Dimensions: 4351 (L); 1798mm (W); 1465mm (H); 2634mm (WB)
Weight: 1320kg.

Pricing guides

$12,470
Based on 19 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,750
Highest Price
$14,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
1.4 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $5,720 – 8,030 2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2012 1.4 Pricing and Specs
2.0 JTD-M 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $9,680 – 13,200 2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2012 2.0 JTD-M Pricing and Specs
Distinctive 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,653 – 14,990 2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2012 Distinctive Pricing and Specs
Distinctive JTD-M 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $7,920 – 11,110 2012 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2012 Distinctive JTD-M Pricing and Specs