Having spent my Summer holiday in Italy this year it was quite nice on my return to be driving an Italian car, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Although I have driven both diesel models of the Giulietta before, the excellent 1.6 & 2 litre versions, this time I was testing the 1.4 MultiAir version featuring a 6 speed Dual Clutch Transmission with the choice of auto, a stick change or flappy paddles.
I have always coveted the Giulietta above other cars in its class, based on its Italian looks & the nice touches that Alfa have put in the cabin. However, on this occasion it was Mrs Walker who was freshly impressed with the Giulietta as she had to drive to York & back on business & came back espousing the cars virtues.
The 1368 cc engine is a bit of a corker, offering 170 bhp with a 0-6 2 mph time of just 7.7 seconds. The auto box allows for a lot more fun than the manual diesel Giuliettas I’ve driven & seems to accentuate the cars drive ability. The quirky cabin is well appointed with easy to use controls & my test car included cruise control, darkened headlights, chrome effect window sills, side skirts, aluminium pedals, a sports steering wheel with matte black inserts & remote controls in black leather with red stitching. There’s a nice set of 17″ alloys, dual zone climate control, 6 airbags, rear cluster LED lights, front & rear electric windows, sports suspension, fog lights, LED daytime running lights, electric wing mirrors, colour coded bumpers, a rear spoiler, black leather & microfibre interior upholstery, a radio with CD/ MP3 & 6 speakers , Blue& Me Afas hands free Bluetooth system with voice recognition & a multifunctional trip display & computer. Stop/Start technology is also offered, but no SatNav on my test car.
The petrol version is immensely good fun to drive as the engine seems to bring the sportiness out in the Giulietta that just isn’t there with either diesel variant. The Alfa DNA switch allows the driver to select from three settings which are All Weather, Natural & Dynamic depending on your location. Although I love the styling there are a couple of gripes in the cabin. Firstly, the USB connection is hidden way at the back of the glove box, making it essential to set up your ipod before you set off. Whilst moving ,my passenger really struggled to connect it we had to stop so that this could be achieved. And secondly, the rear wiper button is attached to the wiper stalk but in such a way as to make it difficult to find & even more awkward to turn on & off, with a twist that requires the entire use of your right hand. Other than that, the cabin is well laid & it seems only fair to praise in equal measure, the Blue & Me which connected in seconds, the trip computer which let me keep tabs on my fuel & the impressive sound from the music system.
With a full load for a weekend trip to London, the Giulietta has a decent sized boot & plenty of room in the rear for two adults plus essential teenage equipment, iPads, lap tops, phones etc… Both of my children found the ride comfortable although would have liked larger door pockets or drinks holders for the journey. In the front, the space is surprisingly good & although the ride is firm it’s not unpleasantly so.
As we are a fleet magazine I drove it entirely in Natural mode so that I could get a realistic view on the 1.4’s fuel consumption. Alfa claim a combined of 54.3 mpg & to be fair to them on the motorway at a cruising speed of 75mph this wasn’t far out as I managed an average of 40 mpg. However, driving around town is a different story & I struggled to achieve much better than 29 mpg in & around our office & whilst driving in London that week. For those looking at emissions, the 1.4 offers you 121g/km, which isn ‘t as good as either of the diesels.
If I’m being honest, this version of the Giulietta is the most fun to drive, but if I were a company car driver it isn’t the one I’d buy or lease. Both the 1.6 diesel ( my choice ) & the 2 litre version offer superior fuel economy. The 1.6 offering 64.4 mpg on the combined with emissions of 114g/km ; the 2 litre 62.8 mpg & 119g/km. Driving over 800 miles in the Giulietta, I averaged around 34 mpg in the petrol version, when both diesel models averaged over 45 mpg when tested & for a driver doing 20,000 miles per alum the fuel benefits of the diesel far outweigh the fun of the petrol.
There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with the 1.4 Giulietta & if whether mantra is fun over frugality, you don’t drive that far in business or you just want to smile am awful lot, this version of the Giulietta could well be for you.
An Alfa for the purists but not for accountants. 3.5/5.