Giulietta 1750 TBi Cloverleaf
car... seen it advertised...
great colour... how much? just
some of the remarks from interested
folk who circled the Alfa Giulietta
Cloverleaf whenever and wherever
THE ALFA'S CLASSIC ITALIAN RED PAINTWORK (called '8C')
no doubt helped but, colour aside, the new Giulietta has made a big impression
on UK buyers since being launched last year perhaps even
more so than the Italian marque's popular supermini, the MiTo.
Since the MiTo, and latterly the Giulietta, were introduced, Alfa's UK sales
have rocketed up by 69% in the first six months of 2011.
Although the 6,448 cars sold so far this year is a relatively small number,
it is nevertheless a vast improvement on the few hundred sold annually just
a few years ago when the brand was heading for oblivion in the UK. Alfa Romeo
remains a niche sporting brand, but it's doing a sterling job re-establishing
itself with a limited three-range (MiTo, Giulietta and 159) line-up.
The new five-door Giulietta hatchback was introduced in July 2010
50 years after the original Giulietta model and 100 years after the Alfa Romeo
brand was first created. In those 100 years the Italian sporting marque became
iconic then slipped into the doldrums due to poor models with dubious build
qualities but under Fiat's guidance has been 'born again'. However, whatever
the brand's products, there's always been a hardcore of loyal Alfa enthusiasts
willing to forgive the sins and willing to wait until better models came along.
MiTo supermini started the fight-back and now the Giulietta has taken Alfa forward
to the next level both are realistic and reliable ambassadors
for the brand, re-establishing Alfa Romeos as worthy to own for both long-term
fans as well as a new generation of would-be sporting car enthusiasts who shy
away from mass produced models of a similar size; for instance, Focus, Astra
The Giulietta has taken
to the next level
Alfa Romeo brand
as worthy to own
for both long-term
enthusiasts as well as
a new generation of
would-be sporting car
The Giulietta five-door hatch is priced from an affordable £17,455 on-the-road,
topping out at £25,010 for the iconic Cloverleaf.
Petrol engine options are 1.4 (120 and 170bhp) and 1.75 litres (235bhp); turbodiesel
choices are 1.6 (105bhp) and 2.0-litre (140 and 170bhp). Depending upon which
engine is chosen, spec levels start with Turismo and run upwards through Lusso
and Veloce to Cloverleaf.
The wide combination of the latest lower-CO2 emission engines with a choice
of both petrol and diesel power opens up ownership to business user-choosers
and even fleet operators, all of whom have been attracted to the new model as
confirmed by the brand's recent sales figures. The new 140bhp JTD turbodiesel
engine, about to go on sale, with CO2 emissions of 119g/km and a Benefit-in-Kind
tax penalty of a relatively low 13%, will appeal to company car drivers wanting
an eye-catching car that others would not perceive as being a 'repmobile'.
The Giulietta looks great; the models are well equipped, have a high level of
safety features, most of the engines offer high power with good fuel economy
and the workmanship looks durable. My only reservation is the fit. This is a
five-seater family hatch, so would-be customers need to check out whether the
rear seats offer enough legroom, and whether the driving position suits. The
conversion from their 'natural' left-hand drive to right-hand drive configuration
can, for some drivers, cause minor irritation: 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 was, for me, an issue.
As for looks, the Giulietta's front is typical of the new generation of Alfa
Romeos sporty but attractive with an off-set number plate and a brand
new interpretation of the marque's classic shield-shaped grille. Despite having
all of the practicality of a five-door hatchback, in profile the Giulietta has
the styling of a coupe. This 'look' is further enhanced by the concealed rear
door handles, muscular wheelarches and deep side skirts. The rear is similarly
beefy, giving the Giulietta the appearance of a car that really grips the road.
Inside, the Giulietta is equally pleasant on the eye. While it looks like a
sports car cabin, it's also a relaxed place to be thanks to noise suppression
features that include a sound-proofing film in the windscreen, thicker side
windows and damping material to counter body vibrations.
crafted materials make good use of subtle shades to make the interior feel light
and airy and for easy access the main switches are grouped together in the centre
of the dash.
The Cloverleaf sits
on suspension that has
been lowered by
10mm for a more
involving drive and a
A sporty, three-spoke steering wheel is fitted although, as already mentioned,
it does take a while to find the right seat position relative to the wheel.
The seats are supple and supportive and there are lots of storage compartments.
The boot, incidentally, offers 350 litres for luggage.
All models, from the entry-level Turismo to the range-topping Cloverleaf, have
a high level of standard equipment including electric windows all-round, electrically
heated and adjustable door mirrors and manual air conditioning. Move up to the
Lusso and you get dual zone automatic climate control, fog lights, leather steering
wheel with audio controls and Alfa's Blue&Me hands-free infotainment system.
Both these trim levels come with the 'comfort' chassis.
For a sportier drive, the Veloce model has sports suspension while the Cloverleaf's
has, in addition, been lowered by 10mm for a more involving drive and a racier
appearance. The Veloce also gets darkened headlights, fog lights and aluminium
kick plates and pedals. The Cloverleaf model has all of this plus dark-tinted
windows, sporty red brake callipers, a visibility pack and dark titanium-finish
18-inch alloy wheels.
On my £25,010 Cloverleaf test car, one element of the styling package stood
out like a sore thumb the green Alfa Cloverleaf on a white background
badge on the front wings. It lacks finesse and if I bought this model, I would
have them removed.
Fitted as standard across the entire range is Alfa's DNA system. 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, select Dynamic mode; Normal is for urban environments
and everyday use; and for maximum safety in low-grip conditions there's All-Weather.
DNA achieves these adaptations by modifying the operating parameters of the
engine, gearbox (in the case of the auto), steering, brakes and electronic differential.
be honest (and, I suspect, like most owners do), I left it in Normal most of
the time and it was perfectly adequate, giving a well balanced
and responsive drive.
This 235bhp 1750 TBi
turbocharged petrol unit
is the most powerful
engine in the range and,
say Alfa, offers the
performance of a three-
litre but with the fuel
consumption of a
Dynamic mode does produce more torque at lower engine speeds, so when more 'grunt'
is required it's worth changing the setting. Perhaps the smaller 1.4-litre petrol
models gain a bit more 'zip' in Dynamic mode, but for the 235bhp 1.75-litre
Cloverleaf version the changing of settings was surplus to requirements.
1750 TBi direct injection turbocharged petrol unit is the most powerful engine
in the range and, say Alfa, offers the performance of a three-litre but with
the fuel consumption of a 1.6-litre four-cylinder.
Mostly that is true. The 1.75-litre Cloverleaf has real performance to back
up the stunning and sporty good looks: top speed is an impressive 150mph with
zero to 62mph done and dusted in 6.8 seconds.
Thanks to the turbocharging and 250lb ft of torque from 1,900rpm in Dynamic
mode, the engine feels really strong, very responsive and is very enjoyable
to drive fast. But more often than not, due to busy road conditions,
it was just as happy to play a more passive role impressively without
any highly-strung Italian tantrums.
Officially, 37.2mpg in the Combined Cycle is possible; my test drive saw 31.4mpg.
The CO2 emissions are 177g/km so thefirst year road tax is a hefty £315 but
it drops to £210 thereafter. Company car drivers will pay 25 per cent Benefit-in-Kind
tax making this model not only the most costly to buy but also the most costly
to run but then it's also the most fun to drive.
The Cloverleaf's lowered suspension can, at times, be harsh on your spine, and
the ride is fidgety over poorer road surfaces. But the cornering control, grip
and balance shows the car's sporting pedigree.
With the Giulietta, and not necessarily just the Cloverleaf version, I can quite
see why Alfas have driven back into the hearts of British customers who traditionally
have a soft spot for iconic sporting brands. It's a rarer, capable and stylish
alternative to the go-faster versions of the VW Golf and Ford Focus and Alfas
sales results speak for themselves.
Talking of alternatives, for overall performance the Cloverleaf is not as well
rounded as a Golf GTI. My test car also suffered from some notchy first gear
selection when cold. Family drivers should check out the limited rear seat legroom
and all drivers the cramped pedal space. It will be interesting to see how many
owners choose to remove the 'afterthought'-look Cloverleaf badging.
While the Cloverleaf version is expensive to buy and run, other versions are
better value and look just as good visually with the same gorgeous,
distinctive Italian styling. Other major plusses for the Cloverleaf model include
the fabulous 8C Red paintwork (no other colour comes close!), the well-equipped
sports interior and the powerful engine.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1750 TBi Cloverleaf | £25,010
Maximum speed: 150mph | 0-62mph: 6.8 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 235bhp | Torque: 250lb ft | CO2 177g/km