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Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2013 review

Only the Italians can make a functional family hatchback looks sporting.
EXPERT RATING
7

For some mysterious reason Alfa Romeo went all German for a while with its model names, using boring numbers instead of proper names. That aberration is thankfully a thing of the past and we have must spent a most enjoyable week road testing an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

We did our best to put an Italian accent into our voices when talking about ‘our’ Giulietta, all the more so when it sat alongside our own Fiat 500C bambino in the garage downstairs. Both Italian machines were bright red – there is no better colour for any Italian sports machine. The two little Italians seemed to enjoy each other’s company.

VALUE

Prices start from $36,990 (manual) and $38,990 (TCT automatic) for the MultiAir 1.4-litre five-door hatch. Followed by $40,990 (TCT automatic) for the JTDm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch and $41,990 (manual) for the QV 1.8-litre five-door hatch.

DESIGN

Alfa Romeo Giulietta is all about style, particularly at the front where the bonnet flows upwards from the Alfa-shield grille. The five-door hatchback has been styled to look like a sports coupe thanks to cleverly hidden rear door handles. The result is a sporting look that hides what is in reality a practical family hatch.

The Giulietta’s interior is reasonably spacious, although there are some compromises. Unless tall front-seat occupants are willing to give up some legroom those in the back seats will find themselves cramped. Headroom can also be tight for tall rear seat passengers, though it depends on body shape.

As always, try for yourself by taking along potential passengers during your private pre-purchase road test. Though the Giulietta is configured as a five-seater, in the real world it is better suited to four, with an adult using the middle of the rear seat only in emergency situations.

With no fifth passenger in the car, the armrest with fold out drink holders gives a feeling of luxury. The rear seats have a 60/40 split fold for when extra cargo area is needed above the standard 350 litres. Behind the rear seat centre armrest is a ski hatch.

These days Alfa Romeos aren’t built only for drivers of Italian dimensions, rather multiple settings are offered in the way of a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering column that can be adjusted in four directions. We had no trouble in finding driving positions to suit each of our road test crew.

TECHNOLOGY

Alfa Romeo imports Giulietta to Australia with a choice of two engines. Our test car had the 1.4-litre turbocharged MultiAir petrol unit with 125 kW of power. It can power the Giulietta from a standstill to 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds – again emphasising the sporting nature of the little car.

Those who want even more performance can get a Giulietta QV with the turbocharged petrol 1750 TBi engine that produces up to 173 kW of power. Even more importantly this engine has torque of 340 Nm when the driver selects Dynamic mode.

This torque reaches its peak at just 1900 rpm so there’s urge all the way through the range. Alfa Romeo Giulietta sprints to 100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds. There’s a 2.0-litre diesel engine if you feel that way inclined, can’t say we do...

We found the consumption of the 1.4-litre Alfa petrol engine to be about six to seven litres per hundred kilometres on the highway and it seldom got over nine litres per hundred kilometres in town. These are impressive numbers for a car of this size with the performance characteristics that we love.

Our test Giulietta was fitted with Alfa Romeo’s Twin Clutch Transmission (TCT), a self shifting manual gearbox with dual clutches for lightning fast gear changes.

However, the response and actions of the TCT at very low speeds, particularly in stop-start traffic is frustratingly slow and lumpy at times and isn’t helped by turbo lag and a stop-start system that also gets in the way of decent response.

Though we are great believers in minimising pollution we have to admit to turning off the Alfa’s stop-start. Give us a six-speed manual gearbox any day.

DRIVING

The moment you get behind the wheel the gorgeous little Giulietta feels just right. This is a true drivers’ car thanks to the willingness of the engine once it’s past the turbo-lag stage. There’s some torque steer under hard acceleration in first gear, but we rather enjoy this in a performance car.

In hard cornering there’s a hint of understeer, as you’d expect from a front-wheel drive, but less than we had expected. The dash layout is contemporary. We liked the main switches that run across the centre of the dash for easy access. The tacho and speedo are large and easy to read, which is just as well with the free-revving engine, and Australia’s obsession with speed laws.

SAFETY

Alfa Romeo Giulietta has a EuroNCAP five-star safety rating thanks to a multitude of passive safety equipment. Even better is the crash minimisation technology. This includes ABS brakes with Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control, cornering brake control, dynamic steering torque and brake assist. Like many new cars from the Europe, the Alfa Giulietta has daytime running lights.

VERDICT

Alfa Romeo Giulietta is a great looking Italian machine from a company with a rich sporting heritage and will appeal to those looking for more than mere transport in their family hatch.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta MultiAir 1.4-litre five-door hatch

Price: from $36,990
Warranty: 3 years/ 100,000 km
Weight: 1290 kg
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cylinder, 125kW/250Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual and TCT 
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Towing Ability: 1300 kg with braked trailer
Thirst: 7.8L/100km
0-100 km/h Acceleration: 7.8 seconds

Pricing guides

$10,999
Based on 51 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$7,888
Highest Price
$18,750

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
1.4 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $7,888 – 7,990 2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2013 1.4 Pricing and Specs
Distinctive 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,999 – 10,588 2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2013 Distinctive Pricing and Specs
Distinctive JTD-M 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $12,888 – 16,995 2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2013 Distinctive JTD-M Pricing and Specs
Progression 1.4 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $7,990 – 11,990 2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2013 Progression 1.4 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7