IF YOU’RE not an Alfa Romeo fan, then it’s probably because you haven’t driven one yet.
This Italian brand is one of motoring’s best kept secret and it engenders tremendous loyalty among its customers who love being just a little different to the BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz types.
And while the Giulietta is basically a four-door hatchback car, it feels unique. It also feels and drives much like a well-balanced saloon car.
Giulietta isn’t perfect. It is quite an expensive car compared to its key rivals, but it is a beautiful car which will bring a smile to your face every time you drive it. You can’t say that about many of its more mundane rivals.
But for me the key to the Giulietta is without doubt its engine. This model comes wigth a 1.6 litre diesel engine which manages 60mph in 10.2 seconds and a top speed of 121mph, which is good.
But what is great is its economy and emissions: it will manage 88mpg on a run and more than 60mpg around town while emissions are just below the 100g/km threshold at 99g/km. Some of its rivals come close to these figures but they have a three-cylinder engine which lacks the silkiness of the Alfa’s.
There are five trim levels and the test version is the entry level Super which is still pretty well appointed. It has alloy wheels, power steering, air conditioning, radar parking and central locking.
It also has a Uconnect system which links with smartphones and offers a fabulous range of services such as music streaming with Deezer and TuneIn, news with Reuters, Facebook Check-In and Twitter, plus economy systems and traffic updates.
Style wise, it has been facelifted to match the Giulia sports saloon and is complemented by new badge designs (both the “Alfa Romeo” and “Giulietta” logos), new alloy wheel designs, revised tail pipes, new colours (Alfa White and Lipari Grey) and a new engine and transmission combination.
Also debuting on the new Giulietta is Alfa Performance, a new service created to enhance the driving experience. Using an array of digital gauges and instruments, drivers can control the main parameters of the car, measure their performance using special timers and see driving statistics on their smartphone, in addition to receiving real-time driving tips.
The Giulietta Super trim level adds dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a front armrest, new 16in alloy wheels, front fog lights and upgraded seat upholstery.
A new Lusso pack can be added to the Super model to enhance the elegant look of the car and includes leather upholstery, front and rear armrests (with third rear headrest), aluminium kick plates and the 6.5-inch Uconnect LIVE system with voice-operated satellite navigation and 3D mapping.
Alfa Romeo has had a busy time recently. The Mito has been relaunched and the Giulia sports saloon, costing from £29,180, has gone on sale. Giulia features all new rear-wheel drive architecture and best in class power-to-weight ratios, the Italian brand has big hopes for these new models.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 TCT Super
PRICE: £21,150. Range starts at £18,700
ENGINE: A 1,598cc four cylinder unit generating 120bhp via front wheel drive
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 121mph and 0 to 60mph in 10.2 seconds
COSTS: Town 60.1mpg; country 88.3mpg; combined 74.3mpg
WARRANTY: Three years’ unlimited mileage
Summary: An interesting, well equipped and fun to drive sporty saloon. There are cheaper rivals but they’re not as much fun
Audi A3: From £19,365. Fabulous, stylish and competitively priced. Has all the hallmarks of the bigger Audis
BMW: From £20,930. Not the prettiest BMW but it does drive well and it is more spacious inside than you might imagine
Volkswagen Jetta: From £19,350. Dull styling but a great car to drive and own with an amazing amount of space inside