Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
The Alfa Romeo brand in Australia remains a bit of an ‘enthusiasts-only’ proposition, despite prices being much more reasonable than the Alfa of old.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta range for example starts at just $24,990, that’s not bad for a sporty five-door hatchback in the current market.
Sure, obviously you can drive away in something a little more mundane for less, but there is certainly a unique feeling about this little Italian offering.
I had the mid-spec Progression variant, with a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, a combo that will set you back from $29,450.
So what’s it like? Well overall it’s actually pretty good.
Under the bonnet is a turbo-charged 1.4 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers a healthy (especially given the engines small capacity) 125kW and 250Nm.
As you would expect there is a little turbo-lag under initial acceleration, but once the revs are up the engine delivers a very healthy amount of low-down grunt.
You can also select the Dynamic driving mode (switch located on centre console) which gives the Alfa Romeo even more impressive acceleration and a sportier suspension and steering feel.
Interestingly, the best fuel consumption figure I could get on a long highway drive was 7.3L/100km, around town I was averaging about 8.5L/100km, the official combined figure seems a bit ambitious at 5.2L/100km!
Speaking of that suspension, the Giulietta delivers excellent grip in the corners and a feeling that really helps the model live up to the famous Alfa Romeo reputation for great handling.
The ride is probably not as forgiving as most of its premium hatch competitors, but for the great handling it’s well worth the compromise.
One of the most impressive things about the Giulietta driving experience is the brakes; wow, the bite they provide is super-impressive, and in-fact even a touch discerning when first experienced as the car pulls up with great enthusiasm.
The Alfa also offers simply wonderful steering feel and weight.
So it drives well, handles great and stops with ease, as you might expect these characteristics are the real Giulietta highlights.
In my opinion the external styling is passable, but not memorable.
Inside the cabin, fit and finish is good without being great. Highlights include a nice leather wrapped steering wheel, sporty and easy to read gauges, generously sized glove box and simple air-conditioning controls.
On the downside I found the driver’s seat quite uncomfortable due to what I presume is a strengthening bar located at the base of the seat-back, it really did feel quite noticeable and took away from what are otherwise quite comfy and supportive seats.
This level of Giulietta also doesn’t come with satellite navigation or a reversing camera and you have to settle for an old-fashioned key ignition, on a brighter note though you do get cruise control and auto headlights and wipers.
Legroom front and back could be described as only OK; boot space is good for the class.
Reassuringly the Alfa Romeo Giulietta boasts a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up – the Giulietta is a five-door hatch with some personality and a fun driving experience. I was disappointed by the fuel economy, cabin size and overall comfort levels though.
Still, if you are looking for a car that has a sporty feel, without spending a fortune, then the Giulietta could be a good option.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.4 litre turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol delivering 125kW and 250Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Safety: Five stars