New Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0-litre diesel review
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta with the new 2.0-litre 140bhp diesel model looks a good proposition for business users and even high mileage retail customers who seek individuality.
The styling, fuel frugality, low running costs and exclusivity all add up to good reasons to own one.
Officially this engine will return 62.8mpg in the Combined Cycle. Of course in real-life motoring conditions my Veloce test model didn't.
Driven in my usual legal and hopefully typical customer motoring style my test car returned 47.5mpg. But the big bonus for would-be owners is the tax saving and the fact that they could be driving a really good looking and distinctive car with an iconic sporting brand name and not just another one of the commonplace C-segment family hatchbacks.
The coupe side with its rising waistline styling leads nicely from the elegant long front bonnet with its distinctive deep Alfa nose and shield style grille to the chunky wide stance rear end.
Practicality and interior
The Giulietta is not all perfect, the styling and street image are - for me anyway. But it is not the roomiest of family cars in the rear so try before you buy. There is a good sized boot but it has a high rear load area sill so heavy items have to be lifted in or out.
Inside modern day Alfas still seem to not convert easily from their natural left hand drive configuration to right hand drive. There is minimal foot room around the pedals, the steering wheel seems offset to them and getting the seat in the right position relative to the steering wheel for me was an issue.
But the interior still looks and feels like a sports car and it is a relaxed place to be due to the noise suppression features. These include a sound-proofing film in the windscreen, thicker side windows, and damping material to counter body vibrations. Only the gruff sound of the diesel engine under hard acceleration filters into the cabin.
Carefully crafted materials use subtle shades to make the interior feel light and airy. The main switches are grouped together at the centre of the dashboard for easy access and the main instruments are viewed through a sporty three-spoke steering wheel.
All the seats are supple yet still supportive and there are lots of storage compartments so it is easy to keep the interior of the car clear of clutter and not detracting from the visual impact of the attractive sports design.
Equipment and specification
All models have a high level of standard equipment and include electric windows all-round along with manual air conditioning and electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors.
Move up to the Lusso model and you get dual zone automatic climate control, fog lights, leather steering wheel with audio controls and the Blue&Me hands-free infotainment system.
For a sportier drive the Veloce model, as tested, features sports suspension which is a little too firm and can give an unsettled ride, depending on the many variable road surfaces we now have in the UK.
The Veloce specification also gets darkened headlights, fog lights, body side skirts, aluminium kick plates and pedals, cruise control, part leather upholstery and 17-inch alloy wheels.
One additional feature on all models is Alfa's D.N.A. system which is fitted as standard. It acts on the engine, brakes, steering, suspension and gearbox to allow drivers to hone the car's responses to the driving conditions.
For sporty reactions it offers Dynamic mode; there's Normal for the urban environment and everyday use plus All-Weather for maximum safety in low grip conditions. It achieves these adaptations by modifying the operating parameters of the engine, gearbox (in the case of the automatic), steering, brakes and electronic differential.
Like most users I suspect, I left it in Normal mode most of the time which seemed perfectly adequate and gave a well balanced and responsive drive. Perhaps with the smaller 1.4-litre petrol engines the Dynamic mode will give the car a bit more 'zip' but for the 2.0-litre, 140bhp turbodiesel engine with 258lb ft of torque the changing of settings was surplus to requirements.
Performance and engine
Talking of torque, the new 2.0-litre, 140bhp engine with 320Nm (258lb ft) of torque felt very strong and responsive pulling away speedily without fuss from just 1,500rpm and it just kept going right through the rev range and only at close to maximum revs did it start to sound a bit coarse and gruff.
The fifth and sixth gearing is relatively high for optimum fuel and CO2 saving performance but most of the time the ample torque still made the engine responsive without the need to change down a gear to pick up speed.
The gearchange, unlike the one I tried recently in the high powered petrol Cloverleaf version, was really slick and light to use.
Even with this latest tax saving turbodiesel engine, the Alfa Giulietta retains its sporty pedigree and it should be given serious consideration by company car drivers who want a car that doesn't imply they are driving a company funded workhorse.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDm 140 Veloce 5-Door.
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four cylinder, high pressure direct injection turbocharged diesel, 140bhp, 320Nm (258lb ft) of torque from 1,500rpm, 6-speed manual.
Performance: 127mph, 0 to 62mph 9.0 seconds, 62.8mpg (47.5mpg on test), CO2 119g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 for year two onwards, BIK company car tax 13% now but 18% from April 2012.
Insurance group: 20E. Boot space: 350-litres.
For: Interesting and less taxing alternative to mainstream brand family hatchbacks, good specification, sporty and distinctive styling.
Against: Short of legroom in the rear for a family car, cramped pedal space, high £1,200 price premium for the new 140bhp diesel engine over the 1.6-litre 105bhp diesel unit, firm ride.