(Find Giulietta Quick brief and prices after the jump)
It does take a few dreams about the Nubergring, Le Mans and Balocco to develop the proclivity to drive the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Not that those dreams are going to get you anywhere with the Giulietta or the Giulietta is going to get you anywhere near those dreams, except their own Balocco testing tracks perhaps. But generally there is a sporty, racy character about the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, right from the feeling of being inside the cabin…
…And that feeling has not just to do with the black leather and black ambience all over, the dark shell wood trims or even the red stitching on the steering wheel and the seats. No, it has got more to do with the seating posture, the cut-off-from-the-world kind of cabin enclosure, the dark and foreboding excitement that wells up, the overall firmness and an-inch-above-the-ground sort of drive of the Giulietta.
For the regular driver these can bring up slightly uncomfortable factors. Like, there is no proper place to give your left arm a rest, while they’ve thoughtfully introduced a right armrest which houses a storage space just good enough for your wallet. And yet another thing is that the window line is so high that it almost rises above your shoulder, which makes shoulder checks pretty difficult especially with the wide and thick B pillars.
UPSIDE: Alfa Romeo appeal, Sporty handling and halo, Impressive fuel efficiency, Warranty and service package
FLIPSIDE: Vacant pedal travel, Steering with an overdose of stiffness, poor visibility past the pillars
PRICE: As the review goes online, the figures are appealing at Gargash Motors, Dubai. AED 105,000 to AED 126,000 with an AED 117,000 model in between. 5 years or 120,000 km warranty & 3 years or 60,000 free service.
In this successor to the Alfa 147, the drive is the most enjoyable in the mid-range rpms where you don’t really push the 1.4 L multi-air engine too hard. Accelerate, and the car responds pretty heavily and with a mark of seriousness to it. And once you cross the strait of seriousness, the Giulietta does stream in the sort of fun you expect from an Alfa Romeo despite the power distribution being sloppy at times, especially when you push it hard. But the handling, with some aid from complying rear wheels, adds lots of fun to the drive.
A little switch takes you from the Natural driving mode to the Dynamic mode – essentially from a drive characterized by soft steering, suspensions and articulation of power to and firm and sportier drive and an unnaturally stiff steering. The third mode is the ‘all weather’ system marked ‘A’, which keeps most parameters soft, but shifts the VDC, Variable Dynamic Control, to control mode and engages the extra grip of the electronic Q1 (whatever that means to a layman!).
The sound of the Giulietta is something that attempts to highlight its sporty, snappy side – quite unlike any other 1.4 litre you will drive. It sounds like a V6 funneled to sound a bit flat, but certainly belies the engine size. What I hated about the drive of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is the vacant pedal travel for a long moment during which the accelerator goes all rubbery and limp, before the car takes up its cause again. The escape from this malady is to slip into the dynamic mode, where things do get better, and stay there.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has chosen to have its sportiness asserted in the sound, the styling, the seats and even the drive quality but has sort of shied away from maintaining the same in the facade expressly. There are diffusers, air vents and honeycombed lower grills, valances and large teardrop lights as well but the two hood lines that direct you to a rather small pouting grille. At the rear, it’s a more elegant sort of design, truly in Italian taste. A wide rear with a raking rear windscreen makes it look bigger and heavier, while it actually is light at around 1300 kg, through it drives with a heavier and more solid character. The external styling lives up to the coupe-like design by having no rear doorknob but just a grip, which in black plastic is tucked away at the end of the rear windows.
Cabin and Controls
It is a cabin that quickly endears itself to you with enough legroom, despite the sporty positioning of seats. The rising window line makes the cabin a lot more private but children who are stuck in the back are bound to feel claustrophobic. There are ISOFIX seats by the way. The material used inside the cabin is slightly simplistic yet tasteful; but for some of the buttons that feel a little plasticky, like the press buttons for the screen controls. There are lights for the rear cabin as well but then, this is no ordinary hatch. It is an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, defining a new segment labeled Premium Hot Hatches.
There is an impressive pop up dash-top screen around 6.5 inches wide, which houses the controls. It’s not a touch screen. It has got a navigation button but the car doesn’t have Navigation – they are working on an Arabic based navigation system for the region, I am told! The Alfa Romeo Giulietta here doesn’t come with a rear view camera or sunroof either but Bluetooth connectivity is in place. Just as this gadgetry of pop-up screen is there to impress, in the dynamic mode it offers a graph that monitors the power and torque output – impressive stuff.
Among the inside controls, those five rocker switches at the center, like in the Mini, give it a nice classic touch that an Alfa comeback car deserves. Accentuating the sporty nature intended for this car, the tachometer is positioned towards the right side while the speedo is relegated to the left.
Continuing with the Italian character, those little metre gauges – the fuel gauge and the temperature gauge – speak Italian marked as ‘Benzina’ and ‘Acua’. And even the RPM says ‘Giri’ x 1000; rotations I guess because I think it comes from gyro. Kilometre is thankfully not changed.
The Essential Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The new Alfa Romeo Giulietta is as Italian as it is sporty. By Italian I mean whimsical, quirky and allowing passion to override practicality. The Aluminium pedals with the Alfa logo on them are quite distinctive. Among them, the occasionally sloppy accelerator is the very reason for my displeasure with the drive. All said, if you stick to the Dynamic mode and enjoy the roadster feeling that enwraps you, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta will let you attain a warped balance – between raw and refined; suave and sporty! As in the case of any first love, the eventual ‘amore’ that happens with this Alfa has little to do with the rational mind.