2015 Alfa Romeo Giulietta review
Robert Pepper’s 2015 Alfa Romeo Giulietta review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
How we rated the Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Practical Motoring Says : The Giulietta wasn't the sharp, sporty hot-ish hatch we were expecting but it is a good all-rounder. It'll thrill the average driver but probably won't thrill enthusiasts. The engines are strong and the packaging, despite the lack of room in the foot-well, is pretty good. The styling is a strong point and while we've highlighted a few negatives with this car, there are enough positives that it should still be on your shopping list if you're looking for a fun, well-rounded warm hatch.
On the outside
The Giulietta looks good by the standards of its peers, as you’d expect from any Alfa Romeo. And while it might not look as delicately beautiful as its predecessor 147, it’s still an attractive machine in a sea of bland hatchbacks. But then, to Alfa styling is very nearly as important as the engines thrown under the bonnet and sporty handling…
The Giulietta is particularly distinctive from the front with its cinched in snout and shield grille. And there are little touches like the rear doorhandles located up at the back edge of the backseat windows which show some thought has gone into the look and packaging of the thing. Our test car arrived with the QV Line package (an extra-cost option) which includes, among other things, red brake calipers that set the thing off quite nicely.
So, styling is a strong point. What about the packaging?
Room & Practicality
The front row is spacious with a good range of adjustment for the driver. I took an evening’s roadtrip with the car, collecting various petrolheady friends and, once parked up, we spent most of the time swapping around between the various seats, finding that the backseat was more than comfortable enough for a six-footer. Bizarrely, though, there’s what appears to be a transmission tunnel intruding into the back, even though the Giulietta is front-wheel drive, so while it’s a five-seater the car is best restricted to four adults, although five children could be seated across the back without too much trouble.
In true Alfa style practicality is a bit hit and miss … The hand-brake is awkwardly positioned next to the small centre console, which, thanks to this being a small car, has to be tilted back out of the way to get to the small drinks holders.
The seat memory buttons are on the side of the seat, all too easily confused with the seat adjustment and invisible to the seat occupant – this caused two testers much trouble and the rest of us much amusement. The room to slip your hand down between the seat and the doors is tight, but it’s one of those things that you quickly get used to and, if you’re the only one driving the car, well, you’ll never have to touch them once you’ve adjusted them to suit you.
The ventilation controls are big, easy buttons to use on the fly, and Alfa have made a storage compartment on the top of the dash, like Subaru. Wish all manufacturers were as thoughtful. The glovebox is unusually deep, so you can store a lot of stuff right at the back.
On the entertainment front there’s a USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming and… no CD player. Which is fine. When you connect your phone to the USB port the car starts playing media automatically, although there’s a setting that allows you to disable that and set your preference, which could be Bluetooth audio streaming. The sat-nav is not quite the 2015 standard, the user interface is a little dated feeling and slow. It also disables when in motion which means the passenger can’t make adjustments while on the move.
The rear cargo compartment is unlocked in cliché Alfa Romeo fashion. You press the Alfa Romeo badge, which is cool, but then there’s no grip for your fingers to lift up the door. This means Alfa have again managed to design something that is all at once unusual, stylish, cool and yet kind of impractical and non-intuitive. Once the tailgate is up it’s all good – a large load area, four robust tie-down points, a well-postioned light, 12v socket, side pockets and a hatch to the second row for carrying long items.
On the inside
The Giulietta’s interior design is typical Alfa Romeo, which means it’s above-average compared to everything else. The steering wheel is a particular pleasure thanks to the QV Line package which gives you a flat-bottomed steering wheel. The inside is all swooping curves, red and black, and it looks great except for a centre dash display made of red LEDs that is direct from the late-1990s and probably should have stayed there.
Performance, Ride & Handling
Alfa Romeo positions the Giulietta as you’d expect – sporty and stylish. And it both is and it isn’t. For instance, there’s no footrest and, so, once you’ve taken your foot off the clutch you have to either pull your foot back off the clutch towards you, and then slide it under the clutch pedal, or drive around with your left leg bent ready to get back on the clutch. Neither option is particularly ideal, but it’s worth mentioning the Giulietta isn’t the only small manual with this packaging. Over the course of a week I began to enjoy my time with the Giulietta more and more, but I never totally gelled with this car for the clutch/foot reason alone.
Under the bonnet is a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Multiair engine that produces 125kW and 250Nm of torque and, as mentioned earlier, our test car was mated to a six-speed manual. While the numbers are decent, they’re not huge, but the car does struggle to put the power to the ground, not helped by torque steer which is quite pronounced in early gears, but settles down as you work through the gearbox. This despite the Q2 system which brakes the inside front wheel when accelerating.
While the gearshifter feels a touch too faraway to be at-hand when you’re on a twisting stretch of road, our test car also featured a bright, shiny silver knob that felt particularly large in the hand. The other quirk was the brake pedal which is located lower than the throttle, making it hard to, heel-and-toe shift, but for most people that’s not a concern.
And once you get the Alfa into a corner the good news begins.
Grip levels in the Giulietta are impressive, almost up there with an all-wheel-drive and it’s very neutral too – doesn’t run wide or tuck in too tight. But it is artificial, relying on the electronics to help it out rather than the chassis. The engine is tractable and easily revved without fuss to redline should you want to crack on. The gearshift is slick and the seats support reasonably well so much of the basics for a sporty drive are in place.
The car has three driving modes – All Weather, Normal and Dynamic, which change the throttle response, braking and stability control tuning. There’s not much difference between All Weather and Normal, but Dynamic does sharpen the car up nicely with a more responsive throttle. In the wet, the all weather mode still leaves the car prone to wheelspin on a sharpish getaway.
Around town the Alfa suffers a bit with a tediously large 10.9m turning circle which is the same as the Hyundai Santa Fe, and that’s a 7-seat SUV. A nice little touch is the way the revs rise from 800 to 1050 when the car is put in gear, allowing the vehicle to be low-speed manoeuvred just by bringing the clutch up and leaving the accelerator alone. Clearance is fine, so you need not worry about speedbumps or drains across driveways.
The ride is comfortable to firm, and the suspension is quiet – our test car had the sports suspension pack. Indeed, we’d go so far as to suggest the Giulietta is right up there with, say, the Volkswagenn Golf and Ford Focus for its well-cushioned ride and ability to deal with surface imperfections.
Fuel economy is a strong point at 5.7L/100km on the combined cycle. We didn’t quite manage that, more around the 7L to 8L/100km mark, but nevertheless that’s a nicely long-legged range of 650-800km.
Alfas have a reputation for less than market-leading quality, but at some point we need to leave the sins of the fathers behind and focus on the here and now reality of the modern day. The Giulietta is well put together, and nothing seemed to be flimsy, and no gaps, indeed there were no real concerns but when experimenting with the centre table that folds down in the second row there was an “oops” from the back and a sheepish hand was apologetically extended with the leather loop for the pull.
Pricing & Equipment
The range starts with the Progression at $29,000 (+ORC) which has a 1.4L 88kW petrol engine, then our test car which is the the Distinctive with a turbo petrol 125kW 1.4L, followed by the top model which is the Quadrifoglio Verde that has a 1.8L engine which is good for 173kW.
Our test car has the QV Line package for $4000 which adds the usual trim bling, but of note includes a flat(ish) bottom steering wheel, sports suspension, sports pedals, red brake calipers and ‘dark tinted’ windows, but they look pretty clear to us. On the whole the package is okay, but there are some things we’d delete from it given the chance, like the shiny, slippery pedals.
A high 36.44 out of 37 make for a 5-star ANCAP safety rating. But the seatbelt height isn’t adjustable, and amazingly for a car in 2015, you can start it in gear where most these days force the clutch to be down. There’s reversing sensors with distance indicators, but no reversing camera. So while the headline rating is there, the safety detail is missing in a few areas. The spare is a space-saver.
Thanks to Stephen, Kaye, Kirsten, Muriel, Richard and Peter for their assistance with this test.
2015 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Distinctive 1.4 Manual
PRICE : $33,000 + $4000 Q Line Package (+ORC); WARRANTY : 3 years / 150,000km; SAFETY : 5 star ANCAP; ENGINE : 1.4L turbo petrol; POWER : 125kW @ 5500 rpm; TORQUE : 250Nm @ 2500rpm; TRANSMISSION : 6-speed manual; DRIVE : Front-wheel drive; BODY : 4.3m (L); 1.8m (W), excl mirrors; 1.46m (H); TURNING CIRCLE : 10.9M; WEIGHT : 1269 kg; TOWING : 1300 kg braked / 60kG towball mass; 0-100km/h : 7.8 seconds; MAX SPEED : 218km/h ; FUEL TANK : 60 litres; SEATS : 5; SPARE : Space saver; THIRST : 5.7/100km (ADR81/02 combined); FUEL : Petrol 95 RON
There’s lots of options in this market. If you want a sporty four-seater Ford’s Fiesta and Focus are options, plus Renault’s Megane. But if you’re looking for a direct alternative to the Giulietta with similar sporting pretensions but perhaps more drivability and much better ownership incentives, like a seven-year warranty, then either the Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo or Kia Pro_cee’d GT are worth a look.