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Alfa Romeo Giulietta review (2014 onwards)
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: summary
Alfa Romeo gives its Giulietta family car a new 150hp diesel engine and a modest makeover – enough to keep it competitive with new cars in the class?
What: Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014
Where: Milan – Gavi, Italy
Date: October 2013
Price: TBC (from £19,500 est)
Available: early 2014
Key rivals: Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Kia Cee’d, Mercedes A-Class, SEAT Leon, Volkswagen Golf
We like: strong new diesel engine, reasonably practical, improved refinement, those Italian looks
We don’t like: strangely anodyne to drive, lacks latest safety kit
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: first impressions
Like the MiTo, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is getting an update for the 2014 model year, neatly timed to capture the afterglow of praise being heaped upon the Italian brand following the launch of its new 4C sports car. Unlike the MiTo, the revised Giulietta isn’t actually on sale until next year. But we’ve driven it already.
Again, as with the MiTo, this isn’t any kind of comprehensive makeover – the visual changes on the outside limited to a revised grille, revised front foglight surrounds and some new alloy wheels. The interior gets more of a spruce up, and now offers a touchscreen uConnect sat-nav system.
Under the skin, however, Alfa has made more of an effort with the bigger car, upgrading the sound deadening in an effort to compete with the latest all-new family hatchback rivals, such as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. On top of which, the Giulietta gains a new 150hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: performance
With the exception of this new 150hp diesel – which replaces the previous 140hp model – the Giulietta’s engine line-up is set to remain unchanged. Meaning you can also choose from 120hp and 170hp 1.4 turbo petrols, 105hp 1.6 and 170hp 2.0 turbodiesels, and the 235hp Quadrifoglio Verde turbo petrol hot hatch.
You’ll still know you’re driving a diesel, that’s for sure
But what of this new diesel, and the apparent improvements to the Giulietta’s refinement?
The areas modified include the engine compartment, wheel arches, front mudguard, floor, rear bumper and boot – as well as the pedals. Alfa is certainly trying hard. So it’s a shame the Giulietta still doesn’t awe you with its cruising silence. You’ll still know you’re driving a diesel, that’s for sure.
The engine itself is smooth, and offers an even higher peak torque figure than the more powerful 170hp diesel – 280lb ft at 1,750rpm – so in-gear acceleration is usefully meaty. This makes for easy going progress on the motorway, and between the bends on country roads.
This is, however, much the same as any other modern turbodiesel. It’s going to take more than this to attract heaps of extra buyers.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: ride and handling
Like the rest of the current range, the Giulietta has the Alfa Romeo DNA switch, which offers a choice of Dynamic, Natural and All-weather driving modes, adjusting the engine, accelerator response, steering weight and, in this instance, also the "Q2" front differential.
As an Alfa Romeo, we can’t help wishing the Giulietta was more sporting
The Q2 differential is actually one of those new-fangled electronics-based systems, rather than a mechanical device, but its goal is the same – to deliver maximum traction. It only operates in Dynamic mode, but it needs to, as Dynamic also unleashes that maximum torque figure, the car being restricted to 236lb ft the rest of time.
Unless it’s really slippery, it’s hard to think of many reasons why you wouldn’t just drive around in Dynamic all the time – and gladly, the DNA selector now remembers which mode you were using last, rather than resetting whenever you restart the car – but Natural mode is at least usable here if you want a more subdued drive.
The Giulietta has a modern, high-strength structure, which helps the suspension work properly – so even on 18-inch wheels the ride quality is entirely bearable, even if more abrupt bumps do occasionally seem to take it by surprise. And the steering is far more precise than that of the MiTo. Thankfully.
What’s lacking is any kind of incisive handling edge. This is without a doubt a very competent car, reasonably grippy and reasonably well controlled. But it’s not especially keen to change direction, and doesn’t offer the kind of feedback that urges you on. As an Alfa Romeo, we can’t help wishing it was more sporting.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: interior
It’s a similar story inside the Giulietta – the interior is neat enough to look at, and of good quality (if not noticeably premium), but is hardly the stuff that life-long passions are made of.
The Giulietta has an impressively strong safety structure
The giant silver plastic ball of a gear knob doesn’t exactly exude class, either, but the shift action from the six-speed manual gearbox is considerably better than the MiTo’s.
Better yet, the improved ergonomics of the front seats are very welcome, and this is amongst the most spacious vehicles for passengers in the family hatchback sector.
It’s got a usefully big 350-litre boot as well, Alfa having specifically designed the rear suspension to make the load area as practical as possible. Which is something you probably wouldn’t expect from the brand. The Giulietta is actually quite a sensible proposition, all told.
The new uConnect sat-nav and infotainment system only adds to this. Available in 5-inch and 6.5-inch versions, features include Bluetooth, USB and aux-in connectivity, smartphone integration and – on top spec versions – one-step voice controlled destination entry. DAB digital radio is new for the Giulietta, too.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: economy and safety
Alfa Romeo’s latest turbocharged petrol and diesel technology delivers solid on-paper efficiency – and this new diesel engine in the Giulietta is no exception. Despite producing 150hp and achieving 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds, it still returns a claimed 67.2mpg with CO2 emissions of just 110g/km. Not bad.
An Alfa that you can buy with your head, rather than your heart
What’s lacking from the Giulietta range, however, is a sub-100g/km contender; even the smaller 1.6-litre turbodiesel emits 104g/km.
The Giulietta has an impressively strong safety structure, incorporating a number of features that were truly cutting edge when it was first introduced in 2010, when it scored the highest Euro NCAP result ever recorded at that time. So it’s going to do its best to look after you in a smash.
What it won’t do is attempt to avoid that accident automatically in the first place, as the Giulietta is not fitted with any of the latest autonomous safety aids. So you’ll have to make do with active head restraints, six airbags and stability control to help you out.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MY2014: the MSN Cars verdict
As you were, really. The 2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta remains a competent family hatchback, and an Alfa that you can actually buy with your head, rather than your heart.
But it is also disappointingly devoid of emotional content, being only moderately engaging to drive and lacking any real sense of charisma – something a few extra bits of chrome and a new infotainment system are hardly going to recompense.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM 150
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