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Alfa Romeo Giulietta sharpens up in style

PUBLISHED: 08:39 07 September 2016

Smart-looking Alfa Romeo Giulietta family hatchback has been given a facelift to bring it into line with the new Giulia sports saloon.

Smart-looking Alfa Romeo Giulietta family hatchback has been given a facelift to bring it into line with the new Giulia sports saloon.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo's Giulietta has always been stylish and dynamic but a family facelift makes it even sharper, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

I like a facelift – not personally although many might say I need one – but when a car gets a mid-life makeover it gives you the chance to get reacquainted.

It livens up a model with plenty of life left in it but it just needs a nip and tuck, and tweak here and there, to freshen its appeal. One such model is Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta hatchback – still one of the best-looking mid-range hatchbacks.

New look

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Price: Alfa Romeo Giulietta Super 1.4 MultiAir 150hp £21,280 (range £18,700 to £28,735)

Engine: 1,368cc, 150hp, four-cylinder turbo petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 8.2 seconds; top speed 130mph

MPG: Urban 38.2; extra urban 64.2; combined 51.4

CO2 emissions: 127g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 22%

Insurance group: 19E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,351mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,798mm; H 1,465mm

Alfa has revised the front end with a new honeycomb grille, piano black bumper insets and revised head and fog lamp surrounds to emphasise its genetic links to the Italian marque’s new Giulia sports saloon.

It also gets new alloy wheel and badge designs, revised tail pipes and new body colours. Inside there are revised seat upholsteries, dashboard and door panel finishes and an infotainment system with smartphone-enabled services.

The rest is very much as it was apart from five new trims – Giulietta, Super, fleet-only Tecnica, Speciale and high-performance Veloce - and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Under the bonnet

The news here is that the 120hp 1.6-litre turbo diesel can now also be mated to the twin-clutch automatic transmission, in line with the manual 150hp 2.0-litre turbo diesel and 175hp TCT auto, but it’s petrol power that really suits the Giulietta’s cheeky, cheerful character with plenty of choose from.

Range-topping Veloce gets a 240hp 1750 turbo petrol unit but bread-and-butter models get a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with outputs of 120, 150 and 170hp, the latter automatic only.

The cracking 150hp version loves to rev when stirred into live with the snappy six-speed manual gearbox to give gutsy performance and a raspy exhaust note. Even with some spirited driving it returned 40mpg overall.

And Alfa’s DNA system of dynamic, natural and all-weather driving modes allows you to match the driving character to your mood and the conditions.

How it drives

The Giulietta is not your typical family hatchback – first and foremost it’s an Alfa Romeo and the sporty character comes out in the way it drives.

The ride is on the firm side, so you’re always aware of what’s going on under the wheels, but it’s the sort of car that makes you want to take the long way home via twisty country roads to really enjoy the agile, responsive handling.

Space and comfort

The Giulietta will four comfortably, with the shapely, sculpted outer rear seats, and five at a squeeze. Legroom is adequate but the sloping roof means headroom is tight for tall passengers and small rear windows make it feel smaller than it really is.

The boot is a reasonable 350 litres, deep with flat sides so it’s all useable space, but there’s a high sill to get loads over.

Rear seats split 60/40 and fold flat to create a 1,045-litre load bay but there’s a step up from the boot floor.

At the wheel

The fascia feels sporty and special with the stylish look and feel going some way to disguise the hard plastics but at least they are nicely textured with good fit and finish.

It’s easy to find you way round the controls, all straightforward to use, but the driving position is typically Italian and a little compromised. With my short arms, I’d have liked more reach adjustment on the steering wheel rather than having to sit closer to the wheel which meant my legs were bent more than I like.

Thick pillars hinder visibility and I found myself leaning forward at T-junctions to see round the chunky B-pillar.

Final say

Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta has always been a sharp dresser, bringing Italian flair into the family hatch market. The refreshed model brings subtle styling changes for the better, rather than for the sake of it, without losing the dynamic talents which make it entertaining to drive.

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