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Well, a month in and I finally have something worth saying about the Giulietta. I may as well say something about it I guess.

Forgive me, but I have done this rather late at night, so many spelling errors are possible.

First Impression and Design
I think the first thing that strikes me is that this isn’t really a hot hatch. In fact, it’s not really a hot anything. It’s entirely understandable why people are divided on the appearance of this car. Firstly, it is derived from the Alfa 8C, which, despite its beauty and originality of design, is nearly a 10 year old car. The outward appearance is very unassuming; most if not all of the external bling for the Cloverleaf can be bought for the lower models. I’m not really interested in breaking down what can and cannot be purchased for this car, suffice it to say that it really doesn’t look that different from its other specification siblings. Even the Brembo brakes on the Cloverleaf can be requested on two (?) other spec cars.

I think the best thing to do with this car is go and stand next to it. While many would think “ugh, the last thing I want to do is stand next to that unsightly blight on Alfa Romeo history”, I think that improves the situation by an order of magnitude. Pictures of this car really do not do it justice. Our particular car, in the launch white, really does benefit from you actually standing next to it. I wasn’t too keen on the white at first, having already seen this car in the classic Alfa Red, I think that the white actually helps pick out the detail in the body better, and it works really well with the front lights. Back end is nice to look at as well. Not the usual façade of blandness found on many hatches, and it takes a few nice elements from the Brera design, that can be seen quite easily when you have the ability to see the perspective of the car from the rear. Overall, it is a well packaged design, with nothing insulting to the eyes from what I can see, and I really like it.

Interior
I must say this is one of my favourite features of the car. In complete contrast to the overbuilt and plushy 159 interior, a more Germanic approach is taken; and I must say there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Some reviews of this car complain about the ‘hard plastics’ that occupy the centre panel, but as I have said elsewhere, I don’t caress or chew on them, so I again find them completely fine. The door cards have a slight blandness to them that the 159, 156, GT, 147 and such didn’t, but that isn’t to say that it is wrong. It shares some parts from the Bravo, but this isn’t a problem. I don’t tend to go around comparing indicator stalks making sure mine are independently made; they work, and that’s the important thing.

I think the word to describe the dashboard is ‘smart’. I quite like the thinner vents in the centre, they make the whole package look much sleeker. I think it looks much better than the Golf GTi, to which everything must be compared. Apparently, the interior plastics on a GTi are much softer. I’ll take their word for it; I’ve been in a GTi, GTD and an R, but I wasn’t inclined to chow down on the plastic or touch them inappropriately to get an impression of just how soft they are, it’s just not my thing. The most aged thing about the dashboard is the lack of integration of the gearstick surround. But that’s no big problem, the Focus approach to this is much less graceful, and the Audi A3 effort is’t much better either. Alfa have clearly just forgotten to do this, but it’s not the end of the world.

The seats are comfortable. We drove the Giulietta all the way from London to Manchester and it was really nice to be in. Some people have complained that there is little lumbar support, and that the seats are too hard. I have not found this to be the case, but I am youngish, so I don’t require such support, so I understand if there is a contrast to this. The seats are not quite as comforting as a 147 I must say, but they are perfectly adequate and nicely designed. Bearing in mind it is nearly 6 years old, it has no rattles yet, though I’m sure like any car, they will develop. One thing I will say, is that the ignition surround may be particularly annoying for those who have long legs. The keys dangle right into your leg if they have other things attached to them, and the surround can get in the way, but I changed my driving position and it seems fine now.

Engine
This really is a great piece of work. Actually many reviews seem to miss this part of the car or moan about things that don’t seem all that important, at least to me. One may often read that others drive their car in D mode constantly. I have no idea why. The N mode setting is really fine for what driving one would typically do. Most of these cars’ owners will spend their life queuing to go to work or pottering to town, maybe with the odd holiday thrown in. In N mode, it’s actually a strange sensation, somewhere between turbocharged and naturally aspirated. The throttle is dulled, but actually, that’s not too bad when I consider that I have no wish to rocket up the backside of another car if I am a little enthusiastic with the throttle. So far we have driven about 500 miles with the car, and D mode has been used three or four times for about 30 seconds.

Instead of droning on and on about the TFSI engine or that found in the Renault RS cars, I think a better approach with this engine is to compare it with the previous engines. The Twinspark and JTS engines that it replaces were really free revving, medium power output units. The TBi approach is different, and I must say that this engine is the best part of the package. The engine drives in D mode more like a diesel car, with really good power delivery across the range. At ~230(5) hp, this really is the engine that should have been put into the GT and the later 147 cars. It is such a shame that these engines arrived too late to be placed in these cars, because they really are a great piece of engineering. I think one of these engines in a 147, a little tweaking of the suspension and a bit of exhaust work could have seen a GTi contender in the 147. When we also consider that this engine in its first guise was really praised in the 159, this merely compounds how much of a shame it was. Oh well, diesel is king; but the world was cheated (literally by VW) of what could possibly have been a cracking combination and a great last ‘hurrah’ for the GT and 147.

But the engine works exceptionally well in this car, and it is a credit to Alfa Romeo. It’s not often you would think that they could develop an engine and get it so right the first time. Some complaints include the fuel consumption and the tax, but we manage to get ~40-45 mpg on the motorway under cruise control, and 35-38 mpg under a manual control on the motorway. Put it into D and give it a kick, and it will drop to around 25 mpg. Not the best petrol engine consumption, but not entirely unrespectable considering the amount of car its carrying.

Handling
This is probably a weak spot. But I am saying this having come from a Suzuki Swift Sport, which really is one of the best handling hatches you can buy that doesn’t cost silly money like the Audi S1. This is where the car reveals that it is not a hot hatch; it is a tourer.

Don’t get me wrong, the handling is really composed in corners, and it really does cocoon you in a bubble of safety, but it lacks that certain edge to it that a more hardcore hot hatch would give. Alfa engineers clearly got lazy here and forgot to make the suspension tighten up. Again, this is a shame given that the engine really does come to life and you can feel it tighten up really well. It’s actually quite a fun thing to feel; the car wakes up and feels like its screaming “Lets ‘av ya!” and the noise becomes a little more throaty. This is just simply not backed up by the suspension which responds by doing a grand total of bugger and all when you hit D mode. It’s ridiculous considering all of that work that went into the Mito’s adaptive suspension that was never carried over to the Giulietta. Absolutely bonkers when you can spend ~£10,000 more on these cars from new than the Mito, and they couldn’t be bothered changing to an adaptive suspension for the Cloverleaf.

Some other reviewers have said that the steering is a little bit lacklustre in the feedback, even in D mode. I think this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the car didn’t wander because of the somewhat default suspension system, which remains my biggest gripe.

The only way this is compensated for is by the engine, because of the lack of abilty to corner as well as it should, considering all of that time they spent designing a nice low profile with a good weight distribution; the car becomes a lot more ‘point-and-shoot’, with the engine having to work harder to get the speed back lost in corners. No wonder they wanted the extra ~30 hp over the standard Golf GTi, because it would need it to keep up through corners.

Don’t be too disheartened by it however. What I will say is that this car does do most things really well, and to be honest, you would have to be determined to want to drive in such a manner at all times. It’s still an excellent all round Q-car.

Practicality
Well, I’m not about to compare litres of bootspace. We chucked 20 various sized Ikea furniture unit boxes into it on the first full day we had it. Went in with no trouble. To be honest, you would be the worlds most determined moron if you had to use every single litre of boot space and then moan that it doesn’t fit as much as a Volvo estate into it. We managed with the Suzuki for three years, and managed to fit all of our holiday stuff into it, so I’ll assume I don’t have to moan about the extra 0.075 litres of boot space some other arbitrary car of the same class has in it, just so I can complain.
Economy
Skip! I’m not discussing economy too much for a performance petrol car. Go and buy a diesel. Read the consumption figures and then come and moan when you find you can never actually hit them. Surprise surprise. We didn’t manage it in any car we have ever owned. Costs £225 to tax however, which is far better than the £265 it costs for a 1.6 TS; so I’ll call that an improvement. ;)

Overall
Definitely worth it. It’s just not a hot hatch, and with no bling to make it look like such, I’m okay with that. You either accept that it is not a hot hatch or you do not. If you can get past that obstacle, you discover what this car really is. It’s an accessible entry into high performance car ownership, it’s reasonably cheap to buy and it has decent residuals.

While some people may argue that this isn’t a proper Alfa; I have no idea what one of those is anyway. It’s a car that was born in difficult economic times, and in some aspects, like in the lack of active suspension, it shows. But it’s affordable and accessible to the masses. More importantly, I sat in my 147, and it suddenly felt old today compared to the Giulietta. I think this car has been a good step forward for Alfa, and I hope the next generation is too. It looks great, it’s refined, it’s uncommon, the engine is excellent, it fits things in the boot and I can take it on holiday.

I may add to this six months in. Though probably all that I can say has been said and much of that has probably been said be someone somewhere. I also don't have the experience of having driven nearly every car under the sun, so I wouldn't take anything I say with too much consideration. I just thought I should add something mildly useful of distracting to read.
 

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Hi David WB

Excellent, well written review, I really enjoyed reading it.

I agree with most of what you said. I have never seen the QV as a hot hatch contender, I like to believe it is a bit above the bling and the rest of it that makes those vehicles appeal to the duff-duff brigade. Giulietta is to classy for that.

We are blessed with fantastic roads in the Western Cape and last Sunday I took mine over several mountain passes and beautiful, sweeping valley roads which are almost devoid of traffic. That 1750 engine and TCT gearbox is a match made in heaven. The engine is eager to rev but at the same time it pulls with gusto from very low down which is quite something for a turbo petrol. Most of them don't like to rev and have more lag down below. On days like these I enjoy the sharper response in D but I spend most of my time in N which is more than sufficient. I've seen off a number of irritating GTi's in N. I don't have issues with the handling, I like the fact that there isn't much body roll and the steering, while it doesn't offer much feel like just about all these electric set-ups out there it is accurate and quick and it makes it easy to place the car.

One of the nicest things about the GQV is its ability to cover long distances with effortless ease at high speed. It is quiet inside and if conditions allow it will cruise at 200km/h and up with ridiculous east. Which is why I've always seen my car as more of a Grand Tourer than a hot hatch. A GT with excellent, easily accessible performance.

I love my car and there is nothing else on the market I'd rather drive. I am glad that you are enjoying yours too and it was so nice to read a positive, honest post from someone that enjoys the car for what it is.
 

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Well, a month in and I finally have something worth saying about the Giulietta. I may as well say something about it I guess.

Forgive me, but I have done this rather late at night, so many spelling errors are possible.

First Impression and Design
I think the first thing that strikes me is that this isn’t really a hot hatch. In fact, it’s not really a hot anything. It’s entirely understandable why people are divided on the appearance of this car. Firstly, it is derived from the Alfa 8C, which, despite its beauty and originality of design, is nearly a 10 year old car. The outward appearance is very unassuming; most if not all of the external bling for the Cloverleaf can be bought for the lower models. I’m not really interested in breaking down what can and cannot be purchased for this car, suffice it to say that it really doesn’t look that different from its other specification siblings. Even the Brembo brakes on the Cloverleaf can be requested on two (?) other spec cars.

I think the best thing to do with this car is go and stand next to it. While many would think “ugh, the last thing I want to do is stand next to that unsightly blight on Alfa Romeo history”, I think that improves the situation by an order of magnitude. Pictures of this car really do not do it justice. Our particular car, in the launch white, really does benefit from you actually standing next to it. I wasn’t too keen on the white at first, having already seen this car in the classic Alfa Red, I think that the white actually helps pick out the detail in the body better, and it works really well with the front lights. Back end is nice to look at as well. Not the usual façade of blandness found on many hatches, and it takes a few nice elements from the Brera design, that can be seen quite easily when you have the ability to see the perspective of the car from the rear. Overall, it is a well packaged design, with nothing insulting to the eyes from what I can see, and I really like it.

Interior
I must say this is one of my favourite features of the car. In complete contrast to the overbuilt and plushy 159 interior, a more Germanic approach is taken; and I must say there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Some reviews of this car complain about the ‘hard plastics’ that occupy the centre panel, but as I have said elsewhere, I don’t caress or chew on them, so I again find them completely fine. The door cards have a slight blandness to them that the 159, 156, GT, 147 and such didn’t, but that isn’t to say that it is wrong. It shares some parts from the Bravo, but this isn’t a problem. I don’t tend to go around comparing indicator stalks making sure mine are independently made; they work, and that’s the important thing.

I think the word to describe the dashboard is ‘smart’. I quite like the thinner vents in the centre, they make the whole package look much sleeker. I think it looks much better than the Golf GTi, to which everything must be compared. Apparently, the interior plastics on a GTi are much softer. I’ll take their word for it; I’ve been in a GTi, GTD and an R, but I wasn’t inclined to chow down on the plastic or touch them inappropriately to get an impression of just how soft they are, it’s just not my thing. The most aged thing about the dashboard is the lack of integration of the gearstick surround. But that’s no big problem, the Focus approach to this is much less graceful, and the Audi A3 effort is’t much better either. Alfa have clearly just forgotten to do this, but it’s not the end of the world.

The seats are comfortable. We drove the Giulietta all the way from London to Manchester and it was really nice to be in. Some people have complained that there is little lumbar support, and that the seats are too hard. I have not found this to be the case, but I am youngish, so I don’t require such support, so I understand if there is a contrast to this. The seats are not quite as comforting as a 147 I must say, but they are perfectly adequate and nicely designed. Bearing in mind it is nearly 6 years old, it has no rattles yet, though I’m sure like any car, they will develop. One thing I will say, is that the ignition surround may be particularly annoying for those who have long legs. The keys dangle right into your leg if they have other things attached to them, and the surround can get in the way, but I changed my driving position and it seems fine now.

Engine
This really is a great piece of work. Actually many reviews seem to miss this part of the car or moan about things that don’t seem all that important, at least to me. One may often read that others drive their car in D mode constantly. I have no idea why. The N mode setting is really fine for what driving one would typically do. Most of these cars’ owners will spend their life queuing to go to work or pottering to town, maybe with the odd holiday thrown in. In N mode, it’s actually a strange sensation, somewhere between turbocharged and naturally aspirated. The throttle is dulled, but actually, that’s not too bad when I consider that I have no wish to rocket up the backside of another car if I am a little enthusiastic with the throttle. So far we have driven about 500 miles with the car, and D mode has been used three or four times for about 30 seconds.

Instead of droning on and on about the TFSI engine or that found in the Renault RS cars, I think a better approach with this engine is to compare it with the previous engines. The Twinspark and JTS engines that it replaces were really free revving, medium power output units. The TBi approach is different, and I must say that this engine is the best part of the package. The engine drives in D mode more like a diesel car, with really good power delivery across the range. At ~230(5) hp, this really is the engine that should have been put into the GT and the later 147 cars. It is such a shame that these engines arrived too late to be placed in these cars, because they really are a great piece of engineering. I think one of these engines in a 147, a little tweaking of the suspension and a bit of exhaust work could have seen a GTi contender in the 147. When we also consider that this engine in its first guise was really praised in the 159, this merely compounds how much of a shame it was. Oh well, diesel is king; but the world was cheated (literally by VW) of what could possibly have been a cracking combination and a great last ‘hurrah’ for the GT and 147.

But the engine works exceptionally well in this car, and it is a credit to Alfa Romeo. It’s not often you would think that they could develop an engine and get it so right the first time. Some complaints include the fuel consumption and the tax, but we manage to get ~40-45 mpg on the motorway under cruise control, and 35-38 mpg under a manual control on the motorway. Put it into D and give it a kick, and it will drop to around 25 mpg. Not the best petrol engine consumption, but not entirely unrespectable considering the amount of car its carrying.

Handling
This is probably a weak spot. But I am saying this having come from a Suzuki Swift Sport, which really is one of the best handling hatches you can buy that doesn’t cost silly money like the Audi S1. This is where the car reveals that it is not a hot hatch; it is a tourer.

Don’t get me wrong, the handling is really composed in corners, and it really does cocoon you in a bubble of safety, but it lacks that certain edge to it that a more hardcore hot hatch would give. Alfa engineers clearly got lazy here and forgot to make the suspension tighten up. Again, this is a shame given that the engine really does come to life and you can feel it tighten up really well. It’s actually quite a fun thing to feel; the car wakes up and feels like its screaming “Lets ‘av ya!” and the noise becomes a little more throaty. This is just simply not backed up by the suspension which responds by doing a grand total of bugger and all when you hit D mode. It’s ridiculous considering all of that work that went into the Mito’s adaptive suspension that was never carried over to the Giulietta. Absolutely bonkers when you can spend ~£10,000 more on these cars from new than the Mito, and they couldn’t be bothered changing to an adaptive suspension for the Cloverleaf.

Some other reviewers have said that the steering is a little bit lacklustre in the feedback, even in D mode. I think this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the car didn’t wander because of the somewhat default suspension system, which remains my biggest gripe.

The only way this is compensated for is by the engine, because of the lack of abilty to corner as well as it should, considering all of that time they spent designing a nice low profile with a good weight distribution; the car becomes a lot more ‘point-and-shoot’, with the engine having to work harder to get the speed back lost in corners. No wonder they wanted the extra ~30 hp over the standard Golf GTi, because it would need it to keep up through corners.

Don’t be too disheartened by it however. What I will say is that this car does do most things really well, and to be honest, you would have to be determined to want to drive in such a manner at all times. It’s still an excellent all round Q-car.

Practicality
Well, I’m not about to compare litres of bootspace. We chucked 20 various sized Ikea furniture unit boxes into it on the first full day we had it. Went in with no trouble. To be honest, you would be the worlds most determined moron if you had to use every single litre of boot space and then moan that it doesn’t fit as much as a Volvo estate into it. We managed with the Suzuki for three years, and managed to fit all of our holiday stuff into it, so I’ll assume I don’t have to moan about the extra 0.075 litres of boot space some other arbitrary car of the same class has in it, just so I can complain.
Economy
Skip! I’m not discussing economy too much for a performance petrol car. Go and buy a diesel. Read the consumption figures and then come and moan when you find you can never actually hit them. Surprise surprise. We didn’t manage it in any car we have ever owned. Costs £225 to tax however, which is far better than the £265 it costs for a 1.6 TS; so I’ll call that an improvement. ;)

Overall
Definitely worth it. It’s just not a hot hatch, and with no bling to make it look like such, I’m okay with that. You either accept that it is not a hot hatch or you do not. If you can get past that obstacle, you discover what this car really is. It’s an accessible entry into high performance car ownership, it’s reasonably cheap to buy and it has decent residuals.

While some people may argue that this isn’t a proper Alfa; I have no idea what one of those is anyway. It’s a car that was born in difficult economic times, and in some aspects, like in the lack of active suspension, it shows. But it’s affordable and accessible to the masses. More importantly, I sat in my 147, and it suddenly felt old today compared to the Giulietta. I think this car has been a good step forward for Alfa, and I hope the next generation is too. It looks great, it’s refined, it’s uncommon, the engine is excellent, it fits things in the boot and I can take it on holiday.

I may add to this six months in. Though probably all that I can say has been said and much of that has probably been said be someone somewhere. I also don't have the experience of having driven nearly every car under the sun, so I wouldn't take anything I say with too much consideration. I just thought I should add something mildly useful of distracting to read.
Great review!... Would take me a week to type that with my one finger method!:biglaugh:
 

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hi
suspension is greatly improved with eibach springs and bilstein b6 dampers.i would recommend a short shifter for the baggy gear change it feels much better.i think if you spend a little on mods you can make this a real sports car for little money.i also changed air filter and ragazoon cat back exhaust. I have only had the car 8 months but I feel they need tweaking to enjoy them properly.remap and spacers next:thumbup:good review but once modded you may as well rewrite the whole thing x
 
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