Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback
Price £18,240 - £30,280
- Interesting looks
- Stylish interior layout
- Superb MultiAir petrol engines
- Uncomfortable driving position
- List prices a bit high
- Cramped rear space
At a glance
"The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has distinctive looks and is good fun to drive, but it's not as well rounded as the best in class."
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta competes with cars such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf in the small family car class. Alfa Romeo has a strong heritage in motorsport and the Giulietta plays to this with a driving experience that focuses on sporty handling rather than outright comfort. The Giulietta also has more eye-catching looks than most of its rivals.
The Giulietta has received a number of updates for 2014, including reduced prices, some subtle styling changes, an updated interior, revised trim levels and new engines. The range starts with basic Progression trim, which is followed by Distinctive, Exclusive and top-of-the-range Sportiva Nav.
The updated model features a new version of Alfa Romeo's 2.0-litre diesel engine, which has lower emissions and improved performance. It's also quieter inside thanks to improved sound deadening. A performance model, the Quadrifoglio Verde, is also available.
All models now get a five-inch touchscreen, while the Sportiva Nav gets the high-res 6.5-inch display as standard. Buyers can now also have leather trim on the doors and dashboard.
MPG, running costs & CO2
A good mix of performance and economy
The 118bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine that powers the basic Alfa Romeo Giulietta returns fuel economy of 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 148g/km, so it'll cost £145 to tax. The other petrol option is a 168bhp engine, which gives you much more performance, but it's actually more economical, returning 49.6mpg, and emits less CO2, so road tax is £130 a year.
Topping the range is the Quadrifoglio Verde, which develops 237bhp from its 1.75-litre engine. Running costs climb to £200 a year for road tax due to CO2 emissions of 162g/km, while it'll struggle to return 40mpg in everyday driving.
Buyers can choose from three diesel engines. The cheapest is a 1.6-litre that can return 70.6mpg and has CO2 emissions low enough for £20-a-year road tax. The other diesels are both 2.0-litres, producing either 148bhp or 173bhp. The lower-powered of the two is capable of 67.3mpg and road tax remains at £20 a year. The 173bhp version returns 67mpg, but road tax is slightly higher at £30 a year.
Engines, drive & performance
More powerful petrol and diesel engines are the best
Aside from the entry-level 1.6-litre diesel, which takes a relatively lethargic 11.3 seconds to get from 0-62mph, there isn’t really a slow version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The basic petrol does it in 9.4 seconds, while the more powerful petrol takes just 7.6 seconds.
The 148bhp diesel gets from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and the 173bhp version does it in 7.9 seconds.
The powerful diesel engine makes the Giulietta an excellent motorway cruiser, but all are good in town, on country roads and out on the motorway. All models have Alfa’s DNA control switch that lets you alter the setup of the car by changing the sensitivity of the throttle pedal and the weight of the steering.
Alfa recently introduced the sporty Quadrifoglio Verde (QV) edition of the Giulietta, which has the 237bhp engine and six-speed gearbox from the company's 4C sports car, making it the fastest model in the range. While this engine sounds great and means the car can do 0-62 mph in six seconds, the QV isn’t as entertaining – or as comfortable – to drive as the VW Golf GTI, Seat Leon Cupra or Ford Focus ST. Considering the QV is also quite expensive, it’s difficult to recommend.
Interior & comfort
The interior is quiet but compromised
Although the Alfa Romeo Giulietta still can’t match the interior quality of the Volkswagen Golf, it has been improved for 2014. Leather interior in particular lifts the cabin's appearance and we’d also recommend going for the 6.5-inch touchscreen, which is an option on all but the top-spec models.
The interior of the old Giulietta was quiet and the same is true of the revised model. Unfortunately, the seats are still fairly uncomfortable.
Practicality & boot space
There’s an average-sized boot and not much storage space
The Alfa’s 350-litre boot is a reasonable size – bigger than the Ford Focus’ (316 litres) but smaller than the Volkswagen Golf’s (380 litres). There are storage areas dotted around the cabin, but the central armrest cubby and glovebox are both pretty small.
Although the Giulietta is available only as a five-door car, the back seat is cramped and legroom is also tight. Even the driver doesn’t escape, with a cramped pedal box making it hard to get your feet comfortable.
Reliability & safety
Very safe and getting more reliable all the time
Alfa Romeo has in the past had a relatively poor reputation for reliability but if the results of our Driver Power 2013 owner satisfaction survey are anything to go by, this seems to be changing. As a manufacturer, Alfa Romeo finished mid-table – coming 17th out of 32 brands – but as a model, the Giulietta did exceptionally well, finishing seventh ahead of plenty of more expensive machines.
The Giulietta was crash-tested in 2010 by Euro NCAP and was awarded the full five-star rating. It has a full complement of airbags, seatbelt warning buzzers, and electronic stability control.
Price, value for money & options
High-spec models feel plush
The new trims levels for the 2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta represent better value than the old car’s. Even the basic model gets equipment such as alloy wheels, a five-inch touchscreen, air-conditioning and a DAB radio.
Distinctive models add cruise control, climate control and rear parking secnsors, while the Exclusive boasts a leather interior, as well as automatic wipers and lights. Top-spec Sportiva Nav models feature a more upmarket leather interior, bigger brakes, a sports steering wheel and 18-inch alloy wheels.