Alfa’s New Giulietta


hipstamatics by Paul O’Connor

When the first Giulietta was launched to the public in 1954 it was the first truly mass-market Alfa Romeo. It was pretty but practical, stylish but reliable, functional yet passionately conceived. And it’s these core values, of course, which the FIAT corporation have sought to infuse into the latest guise of the Giulietta and sell to a public ready for a new generation of cars bearing the Alfa brand.

Looking at the lines of the latest version of the model, you can see the influence of the 147’s genetic code – especially from the rear. In our opinion that’s a positive. And in any case, this is an entirely new platform – not a money saving clone with a redesigned superstructure from the canny FIAT board. As a five door, five seater hatchback it is of course talking in a crowded marketplace – the perennial crowned prince of which is the GOLF. But this is, if nothing else, just a little bit different.

The Look
Look at the styling cues for one. Look at the chiselled features of the face, with its hi-tech lampage, arched, undulating droop in the snoot (which reminds us vaguely of the Vauxhall Firenza) and the dynamic looking spitters and scoops that make up its Latinate chin.

If it wasn’t for the horribly huge, offset UK registration plate (a perennial problem on recent Alfas) this would be a classically bold design, one which captures the essence of its family’s highest end supercars and packages it prettily for the mid-range punter.

From the side pleasingly scalped panels bolster the extruded nose and pull in tight to that snug, hunkered hind. The turbine style alloys are unusual and striking. The cloaked rear door handles (like on a Civic) and tiny, angled c-pillar gives this relatively spacious 5 seat setup the outward appearance of a much smaller coupé – a clever attempt to appeal to the thirty something bloke with a young and growing family.

The overall package doesn’t look revolutionary – more an evolutionary style shift with pleasingly aesthetic touches – perfectly befitting the badge and the sector.

The Drive
The tweaked, entertaining version of a standard format then, from the outside appearance, – and out on the road a similar result is achieved. That award-winning 1.4 MultiAir Turbo breathes an impressive 170 horsepower toward the front wheels – and there’s multilink rear suspension at the back with a MacPherson strut system on the front.

The package feels nicely responsive and gives great feedback. Keep it in dynamic mode (using the unobtrusive DNA switch at the foot of the dash, and this feels just as an Alfa should feel. In higher speed direction changes you can really feel that rear end’s hunkered down, positive aspect. This has probably as much to do with the innovative materials used in the stiff, light and strong chassis that this completely new design has employed and the ‘dual-pinion’ active steering system that we don’t really understand but can sense is doing something right.

Put it this way. This thing flies round a rural roundabout with much more aplomb than any Golf we’ve ever piloted.

The Result
Ultimately, this is a great little car that’s fun enough to entertain someone who truly enjoys dynamic driving and is big enough to cart round the kids. It’s unusual enough, possessed of just the right amount of rake to qualify as a cool car – yet it’s accessible, frugal and will be very reliable and economic (though we are no fans of stop-start motoring). Our main criticism is the less than intuitive interior switchgear. Apart from that, we’d heartily recommend it. Looks like they’ve pulled of a Giulietta job for a new generation.