Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback
“The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is attractive and characterful, but lacks interior space and feels a bit dated”
- Fairly quick
- Stylish exterior
- Smart cabin
- Pricier than some rivals
- Limited rear passenger space
- Not as safe as newer rivals
It's fair to say that the Alfa Romeo Giulietta – launched way back in 2010 – is showing its age, especially against the high standards of its Alfa Romeo Giulia stablemate. In many ways, it's been overtaken by rivals, too, which include the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon, BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3. The Giulietta is reportedly set to be replaced by the Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV.
There's not much wrong on the outside; the Giulietta has a typically Italian design, evoking more emotions than most of its competitors. A facelift tidied things up even more and the Giulietta still stands out in a car park full of other family hatchbacks.
The driving experience isn’t a complete let-down after seeing how it looks, either. It's front-wheel drive (just like the vast majority of rivals), but the suspension feels sporty, with little body lean in corners and plenty of grip. There’s also a three-stage switch to adjust the throttle for a sharper response when you feel like it.
Engines have always been at the heart of the Alfa Romeo driving experience and the same is true here, even if you go for the 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel that can return up to 50.4mpg. It can get the Giulietta from 0-62mph in a respectable 10 seconds, but the similarly powerful 1.4-litre petrol is slightly faster - although it’s a bit of a shame that the more powerful 168bhp diesel engine is only offered on the top-spec Veloce.
So, relatively brisk and oh so stylish then, but inside the Giulietta is less impressive. The driving position isn’t the most comfortable in the class, the seats are too firm and the trim features some below-par materials. Perhaps if it were cheaper the Giulietta’s comfort and trim quality wouldn't be such an issue, but the fact is that it starts at around £20,000 – a price that can buy higher standards elsewhere.
Those who enjoy the Alfa’s image and sporty nature may be able to turn a blind eye to such things, but the wider market can’t and residual values take a beating as a result. On that score, a Volkswagen Golf is a more secure place for your money, and may be cheaper on a PCP finance deal - even if it seems more expensive on paper.
Alfa Romeo has changed the trim levels offered during the Giulietta’s life, with the entry-level model now named Super (a name previously given to the range-topper). Above this, there’s Speciale, with Veloce as the most expensive model. The standard car is quite well equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a five-inch Uconnect touchscreen. Handily, Super also now features dual-zone climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
Speciale trim sits between the other models in the range in terms of price and adds good-looking styling additions and sporty suspension. Seventeen-inch wheels, side skirts and front and rear bumpers with red detailing all feature, along with a larger exhaust, privacy rear glass and front fog lights. Top-spec Veloce adds bigger wheels, Brembo brakes, suede-like seat inserts and a larger touchscreen but it is quite expensive.
To highlight the differences between brand new models and older designs, independent crash-test body Euro NCAP assessed the Giulietta again in 2017. It managed three out of five stars overall, showing how much safety technology has progressed. In many ways, then, the competition has left the Giulietta behind, but it's not such a bad ownership proposition if you can find the right deal.
In our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the Giulietta came in 94th place out of 150 models, which isn’t stellar, but perhaps not bad when you consider it has been on sale for the best part of a decade. The Giulietta slipped out of our 2017 survey results, but it’s worth noting that Alfa Romeo itself has had something of a renaissance, with top-10 results in the last few years, including in 2020.