Cutting a Dash
January 30, 2014
Alfa Romeos have always been pretty sexy. The Giulietta is no exception. But is it as good as it looks?
This compact car, which replaced the “147” model, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 2010. Initially, the Italian automaker planned to call the Giulietta the 149. Later it scrapped that idea in favor of the name “Milan,” but eventually the company decided to recycle an old name used for a model that was on the market from 1954 to 1963—when it was available in a variety of versions: as a sedan, coupe, and convertible.
Style is definitely among the Alfa’s strengths. This is a car that will leave no one indifferent, even though there are dozens of compact cars on the market. Its looks suggest power combined with elegance and attention to detail. An Alfa with 18-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tires looks particularly attractive.
The interior comfortably seats five passengers. Getting in is no problem, either in the front or in the back. The rear doors open in the same way as in the earlier 147 and 156 models, with the handles mounted high in the door frame. This is one of the most distinct stylistic features of the brand. The car offers an easy-to-arrange 350-liter luggage compartment that is reasonably spacious for a compact car.
The dashboard is elegant and ergonomically laid out. The driver has no problem finding a comfortable position behind the wheel, and the seats are well profiled. The gauges are easy to read, especially at night, and the bi-xenon headlights illuminate the road well. The large air-conditioning knobs in the center panel are user-friendly. So much for the pluses. On the minus side, the audio system controls and the air ventilation knobs are too small for my taste. While driving, you have your field of vision limited by the navigation screen jutting out from the dashboard and the audio system as well as the large and low-positioned rear-view mirror. While this is not dangerous when driving, it did turn out to be a bit uncomfortable, at least for me.
The test-drive unit was fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 170 hp diesel engine with a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 1,750 rpm—enough to have some fun. The Giulietta accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in 7.9 seconds and can hit a top speed of 218 kph. If you go easy on the gas pedal, the engine proves economical. During the weeklong test-drive I covered exactly 1,002 km. Average total fuel consumption as shown by the on-board computer was 5.8 l/100km, and there was still enough reserve fuel left in the tank for at least a further 100 kilometers or so...
The Giulietta offers a combination of power and fuel economy, in addition to an attractive design and functional interior. And there’s more. In the test-drive car, the front-wheel drive was combined with an automatic six-speed twin-clutch transmission (TCT). The transmission works smoothly, without any jerks or delays. Alternatively, the driver can go to manual using the gear stick or the shift buttons on the steering wheel.
The DNA electronic system used in the Alfa makes it possible to adjust the operating characteristics of the engine, transmission and the steering system to the driver’s needs at a specific time. The driving mode selector has three settings – Dynamic, Natural and All-Weather. Take your pick and off you go. Enjoy.