The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.7
A glamorous alternative to the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, and far sexier than a Volkswagen Golf, the Giulietta is great to drive and good value too.
Reasons to buy
- Great engines
- Cossetting cabin
- Beautiful exterior design
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
Read pretty much any Alfa Romeo review on Auto Trader and you’ll find that the exterior design is one of the areas in which this Italian company excels, and it’s no different here. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s heavily tapered nose looks superb with its sleek headlights, prominent three-sided grille and spoiler. The strong shoulder line that runs the length of the car lends just the right amount of aggression, and it’s perfectly balanced by the heavily sculpted rear end that incorporates lights that are interesting rather than contrived.
What's the interior like?
Alfa’s designers have done a great job of blending traditional styling touches with modern. The result is a cabin that’s inviting, easy to use and clear. A huge insert in the dash dominates, finished in black piano wood or aluminium. This finish is replicated elsewhere in the cabin and it contrasts nicely with the other colours used throughout the interior. The key thing though is that the materials look high-quality and everything feels as though it’s been assembled with care. The seats look nothing short of sensational, but their slightly convex shape make them uncomfortable on long journeys and there isn’t as much support as you’d expect.
How practical is it?
The Giulietta is offered in five-door hatchback form only, so from a practicality point of view things look promising. Certainly, for passengers it’s generally good news as there’s ample head and leg room for anyone in the front or the rear – it’s not over-generous, but there should be enough for most people. Where the Giulietta falls down is with the boot space, because with the rear seats folded it can stow just 350 litres, and with the seats folded this jumps to all of 750 litres. This compares with the five-door BMW 1 series, which can hold a much more useful 1150 litres with the rear seats stowed, but just 330 litres with them in place.
What's it like to drive?
All Giuliettas come with Alfa Romeo’s DNA system as standard. This allows the driver to choose between Dynamic, Normal and All-weather settings, which has a huge effect on how the car feels. Dynamic sharpens the throttle response to the point where it’s jerky in town, while it also weights up the steering and sharpens up the brakes. In Normal mode it all feels rather flat and All-weather softens things even further. As a result of all this, you’ll find yourself choosing Dynamic most of the time – and enjoying the car’s great ride/handling balance as a result.
How powerful is it?
All Giulietta engines are turbocharged and strong. The entry-level 1.4 TBi unit musters just 118bhp, but that’s enough to give a 121mph top speed and 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds. The diesel engines make the most sense for the majority of buyers though, as they’re so frugal yet give so much performance. The 1.6-litre unit provides just 103bhp, but it feels more muscular thanks to the 236lb ft of pulling power on offer – enough to give strong acceleration and a 115mph top speed. Best of the lot though is the 2.0JTDm. With 168bhp and 258lb ft of pulling power, it can manage 135mph all in and sprint to 62mph in just 8.8 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
The biggest unknown with the Giulietta is how well it will retain its value. This has traditionally been a weak area for Alfa Romeo, but the Giulietta is likely to perform better than its predecessors, if still not as well as rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf or Audi A3. The ‘dirtiest’ Giulietta, the 1750 TBi Cloverleaf, pushes out 177g/km of CO2 and averages just 37.2mpg. But most Giuliettas are much cleaner and frugal. The 1.6JTDm for example can average 64.2mpg while the 2.0JTDm can manage just over 60mpg. Economy is helped by the standard fitment of stop/start on all Giuliettas, apart from the range-topping Cloverleaf.
How reliable is it?
While Alfas of old tended to be fragile, its newer models have got better at a pretty fast rate. The Giulietta certainly feels far better screwed together than its predecessors, so it looks as though Alfa Romeo may finally have cracked it.
How safe is it?
As you’d expect of such a new design, the Giulietta carries a five-star Euro NCAP rating, helped by its strong structure, standard ESP (electronic stability programme) across the range and at least six airbags. Brownie points are also earned for the standard fitment of Isofix fittings in the rear, traction control, and a hill hold facility to stop the car from rolling back when starting off on an incline.
How much equipment do I get?
There are four trim levels offered: Turismo, Lusso, Veloce and Cloverleaf. Entry-level cars get LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, electric windows front and rear plus a six-speaker stereo – but only steel wheels. Moving up to Lusso provides cruise control, dual-zone climate control, bluetooth hands-free, 16-inch alloys and lots more details. Veloce adds 17-inch alloys, leather trim, sports suspension and extra alloy cabin details – the range-topping Cloverleaf adds lowered suspension and extra sporty details such as 18-inch alloys.
No more expensive than some mainstream hatchbacks, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is far more stylish than any rival. But it isn’t necessarily any more entertaining to drive than the best.