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The Warsaw Voice » Society » February 23, 2012
Auto: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 TB MultiAir Distinctive
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Bella Machina
February 23, 2012   
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Alfa Romeo never fails to impress with its style. And the Giulietta, one of the most attractive small family cars around, is certainly no exception. But does it drive as good as it looks?

Alfa Romeo enthusiasts have had to wait 10 years for a new model but it has been worth it. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which replaces the 147, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show two years ago. The Giulietta was originally meant to have been called the 149 (as the heir apparent to the 147), but Milan eventually decided to resurrect the name of the car the company sold as a sedan, coupe and convertible between 1954 and 1963.

Styling is Alfa’s strong suit. Nobody pulls up beside this car without taking a good look and that cannot possibly be because small family cars are a rare sight. The profile is a winning combination of power, elegance and attention to detail that makes people sit up and take notice. The body looks especially good on its 18” aluminum wheels and low-profile tires. To an Italian, this is a “bella machina”—a beautiful car.

The car easily seats five. The front and rear seating are both very comfortable. The rear door handle is placed high on the door, similar to the 147 and 156 models. This is one of the most recognizable stylistic features of the brand. There is plenty of passenger space by family car standards and the adjustable trunk has a capacity of 350l.

The dashboard is chic and ergonomically laid out. The steering wheel is conveniently placed and the driver’s seat is comfortable, adjustable and supportive. The gauges are readable (especially at night) and the xenon headlights powerful. The large knobs in the control panel make the air-conditioning easy to manage.

That’s the pluses. Now for the downside. I found the buttons on the audio system and the air vent knobs just a bit too small. The screen for the navigation and audio systems protrudes from the dashboard while driving. The rearview mirror is large and mounted low. This severely limits the field of vision. It doesn’t make it dangerous to drive the car but it’s just a bit uncomfortable—at least for me.

The test model we drove had a 1.4l/170 p.s. turbocharged gasoline engine. For several years now, “downsizing,” i.e. turbocharging small-displacement engines, has been enormously popular in Europe as it combines power with low fuel consumption. The Alfa’s D.N.A. (Dynamic, Normal, All-weather) system, which allows the driver to choose between these three driving settings and change the engine parameters accordingly, makes driving a breeze. There is a slider switch in the center panel, near the gearstick, where “D” (Dynamic) signifies dynamic driving conditions, “N” normal and/or economical driving conditions, and “A” (All weather) changing roads with different surfaces. A maximum torque of 250 Nm that kicks in at 2,500 rpm lets the 1,300 kg car accelerate to 100 kph in 7.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 218 kph. The engine is quite powerful and can be economical as well on account of its flexibility. The engine hits around 2,100 rpm at a speed of 90 kph and the car burns just under 5l/100 km. You can cruise along at 60 kph in sixth gear without worrying about the engine losing power or “choking.” And consumption at this speed is under 4l. How economically the Alfa is handled depends on driving technique. I managed an average fuel consumption of 7.7l/100 km during a week of test driving. This compares with 5.2l/100 km according to the manufacturer. This is an excellent result given that this was during winter and the mercury often went below minus 20 degrees Celsius. Actually, just getting a car to start at minus 28 degrees is a major achievement for a lot of people.

The Alfa has other things going for it apart from attractive styling, a lot of functionality and a good engine—excellent suspension and intuitive steering to name but two. We drove the richly equipped Distinctive Premium Sport 2 version, designed to appeal to the most die-hard Alfa heads. This reduces comfort to a minimum in order to maximize the experience.

Bartosz Grzybiński
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