The Giulietta has been around for a while now, whilst staying essentially the same car which was launched back in 2010. It has has some slight tweaking over the years but no major design changes. Indeed when it was launched it was based on a reworked chassis from the Fiat Bravo and Lancia Delta. A good looking hatchback, offering style and practicality but is it ‘Alfa Romeo’ enough.
So what is it about Alfa Romeos which make them so special and coveted? Some say that it it is the second most valuable car brand name behind Ferrari. Ferrari has an obvious value, with sales of merchandise outstripping the sale of cars by Mercedes for example, but what of Alfa Romeo? Alfa Romeo fills the ‘near premium’ bracket in a way which other manufacturers can only dream of. If it works then cars can be produced which cost little more to make but sell at a healthy premium. Others have tried, like VW with Seat for example, but it has never quite turned into their Alfa equivalent, despite many millions being spent on motor-sport. This was intended to give Seat some sporting credibility but has never quite had the impact which VW hoped for. VW have previously stated that they would love to buy the Alfa brand and that must be the ultimate compliment.
So what is a real Alfa Romeo? I would say two elements, sporting heritage and design. As the first winners of the Grand Prix world championship, winners of the Targa Florio and winners of the Mille Miglia they have sporting heritage in abundance. They are now adding to this with participation in F1 and also the BTCC this year.
As for design there have been many achingly gorgeous Alfas over the years with the 8c, 4c, various Spiders, the Tipo 33 Stradale, and the Brera to name a few. Cars which you would sell various body parts to own but which still would not be enough. Cars which you want to admire, to own and to drive, but which you will forgive all of their short-comings because they are such objects of desire.
So what of the Giulietta? I had the opportunity to find out for myself through a weekend loan of the press office Veloce version. The most notable things about this car were the fact that the engine was essentially the same as the one in the 4c and good for 240hp, and the red details added to the trim. It looked sporting in a subtle way and certainly had some shove to the drive.
From a design point of view there are some effective touches which differentiate the car from the mainstream, such as the rear lights and the smooth, uncluttered dashboard. Recent upgrades, like adding a touchscreen to the dash, keeps the design fresh amongst fierce competition from it’s rivals. Speaking of it’s rivals, the Giulietta certainly has it’s fair share, from Ford Focus to VW’s Golf and newcomers from the likes of Kia, but none can match the subtle elegant looks of the Giulietta, a car that you look twice at in the car park.
So what of the sporting aspirations? It pulls keenly enough with the amount of power on tap, and this is matched to a clutch-less automatic gearbox. You can feel its front wheel drive set up, which is aided by an electronic rather than a mechanical differential, only recently have Alfa returned to Rear Wheel drive with the Giulia. The handling feels competent but not necessarily involving, but that said it is a nice car to drive, with the Alfa ‘DNA’ system, placing the car in Dynamic mode certainly livens things up a bit, making those B roads more fun.
So it it a real Alfa Romeo? Well to a large extent yes, the design is good, both inside and out, the sporting pretensions aren’t up there with the more recently launched Giulia, but then this is a FWD hatchback so it is a different animal. Is it better than the competition? in some cases yes, in others it falls short but it has a lot going for it and certainly worth a trip to your local dealer for a test drive if your in the market for a 5 door car.
Rumours of a replacement in 2021 suggest we could see a RWD version next based on a shorter version of the Giorgio platform which the Giulia and Stelvio are based on, now a RWD Giulietta Quadrifoglio, that could be interesting…
Author: Paul Rose