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Sheep in wolf’s clothing. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But I’m starting to think that the Godfathers who run Fiat/Alfa in Italy are fast becoming their own worst enemies.
Let me explain.
Here we have what could possibly be the breath of fresh air that Alfa so desperately needs in terms of their market share and market perception in South Africa. The carmaker’s been breathing through a straw to survive locally, but the brand-new Giulietta has what it takes to possibly change all that.
Going head to head against the C-segment 5-door hatchback gang, which include the likes of the Golf 6, Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, there’s definitely enough Italian flair for the Giulietta to be noticed. I quite like the sporty design though, like the Mito, the front end may divide opinion – that front grille is not everyone’s bowl of pasta.
But look closely and you’ll see one or two design cues taken from its bigger brother supercar, the 8C Competizione. The side profile is rather sleek (thanks in part to the dropped suspension), but the Giulietta’s rear is where, for me, this car comes into its own, let’s call it sporty yet elegant. And because of the concealed rear-door handles you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as a three-door hatch – on more than one occasion I found myself accidently trying to let rear passengers in via the front seats!
On test here is the range topper of the three models on offer in SA, the 1750 TBi Quadrifoglio Verde (QV). The TBi part stands for Turbo Benzina iniezione, Italian for Turbo Petrol injection, while the QV part translates to Cloverleaf – which symbolises Alfa’s motorsport heritage. And the QV has a CV which screams promises like a politician a week before local elections. A turbo 1.8-litre engine pushes an impressive 173kW, while 0-100km/h is claimed at 6.8 seconds, top speed at 242km/h, and average consumption at 7.6l/100km.
So, with salivating mouths, we strapped our VBox test equipment into the passenger seat and headed off to our testing facility at altitude to see if the bite was as loud as the bark. But alas, all our VBox showed us was a politician’s broken promises – but to an extent it must be said not entirely the fault of the Giulietta.
You see, the best hair-on-fire setting on offer is the Dynamic mode via the DNA system – which tweaks engine and steering responses. The problem being that the setting modulates traction control rather than switching it off entirely, and there’s no separate switch to get rid of the traction nanny either.
Meaning then that no matter how hard you try, initial wheelspin for best possible launches are always bogged down at some point by the technology. The best 0-100km/h sprint time we managed was a full second off the claim, at 7.8 seconds. I firmly believe that if the Sopranos at Alfa HQ were serious about letting the QV take on the fierier hatches, as they should be, this car should get very close to the seven second mark.
In effect this holds this Giulietta quite far back from most of its competitors (Golf 6 GTi, A3 2.0T and BMW 135i all get to 100km/h in less than seven seconds) in the performance stakes. But, having said that, the in-gear acceleration times, which have nothing to do with traction control, were also not great. In fact, the Peugeot 147kW turbo’d RCZ we tested on the same morning was quicker in-gear and about on par in terms of sprint times.
Living with the QV, it’s a nice place to be day in and day out. The interior is well crafted with attention to detail very evident in items like the seats, the dials, and the finish of the dash. The six-speed manual box is smooth and direct, and slick under pressure. The steering offers zero torque steer off the line, and offers enough feedback when you get a bit windgat.
Overall ride quality is top notch, and not anywhere near as hard as you’d expect from something with the QV’s spec sheet – while the handling is both engaging and confidence inspiring. This Giulietta sure ain’t scared of the corners, and happily dives into them when given the opportunity. Alfa’s Q2 system, which in essence acts like an electronic limited-slip diff, is standard in the Giulietta range and only complements the already sweet handling setup. In fact, I reckon the setup could easily handle more power.
Rear legroom is not fantastic it must be said though. And if you’re not going to boot it, keep the DNA system in the Normal setting – Dynamic tends to give the accelerator a bit of an anxiety attack and it becomes a little snatchy. There’s also a sniff of turbo lag, but you get used to this and it’s not obtrusive – easily overcome using slightly higher revs with the clutch on takeoff. And it has an annoyingly high-pitched alarm beep when activated via the key, something that got on my nerves.
Perhaps it’s Italian sabotage, perhaps I’m expecting too much from the QV, either way I think it’s capable performance wise of more than we got. Which in the hot-hatch market is all that really counts. And at R330 275 it’s eight grand more than a Golf 6 GTi, which doesn’t help.
That aside it gets most of the other ticks. Solid and well built, it’s claimed to be the safest compact ever crash tested by EuroNCAP, great fun to drive, and is backed by an impressive five-year/150 000km warranty and six-year service plan. The middle of the range 1.4-litre turbo Giulietta pushing 125kW may be the better value-for-money option; watch this space for an upcoming road test soon.
To the reviewer who wrote this article... They dont claim it to be the safest hatch ever! It was rated by ncap as the safest hatch ever. Do your homework before writing your drivel. This car is AWESOME! I love Alfa! German cars look like dishwashers when parked next to Alfa's
Yet another biased review. The GTI claims 6.9 sec to 100 but Topcar tested it at 7.1 AT SEA LEVEL, what would it do at altitude which is where the Alfa test took place? Yes turbos are not as badly affected by altitude but they will be down on power. The BM 135 is not even a price comparison at R100K more and the A3 is 3 doors with a long option list. Having driven all the Giuliettas the 125KW is the pick of the bunch. They have for me a huge fault though, no clutch foot rest!
I have a 1.4 MultiAir and its great! Met Red... Italian Scrap.. You never had the money to afford an Alfa hey? Thought so. Probably never even been in one. Rather drive your old boring VW or Toyota... Keep living the boring life... We will have fun in the Alfa's!!!
I got mine yesterday. Alfa Red. Super-stoked. When considering price, please bear in mind a standard six year motor plan, blue tooth and MFS. All items almost all GTI purchasers will spec and pay 40k for. It was inevitable that the jornos were bound to find fault with it. The Renaults get a similar treatment. As for this jorno's opinion that only speed counts! That was the 90's buddy. The rest of us moved on and grew up. When you are putting down your own money, a couple of other things come into play, like style, running costs, comfort, handling, SAFETY and so on. Fantastic car.
And you my dear Italian Scrap fellow is still driving a 3.0l Ford Cortina xr6.
Compare apples with apples. The Alfa is a 1750cc Golf and Audi 2000cc, BMW 3500cc. Why not compare with the likes of BMW 118i. No wait the Alfa will be better then a BMW. And we can't have that now can we. I think back to the days of SA Touring cars when the Nissan Primiera and Sentra was'nt rated as on par with the Germans but on the track it gave them carrots. So much so that the German brigade did'nt wanna play no more.
Italian Scrap, wrote
Ongeluk wat 'n gebeurplek soek = Alfa For the souties : Best secondhand car in the world = Brand new Alfa
I had the opportunity to drive the 125KW, and yes have to agree, not the fastest hatch out there, but comparing it with the Golf6 TSi (118KW) price and specs, it wins hands down, why would you want a boring VW......just asking. I really do not understand the journos love of the VW brand!!!
Maybe we should send the reporter to a proper driving course. I call him a reporter - he is only dreaming to be a proper motoring journalist. I think he used to test drive Tata motor cars and do not know the essence of a well build dynamic car. I am getting tired of all the negative reporting on Alfa. I do not own an Alfa - I drive a VW, but aspiring to an Alfa!
No comparison..., wrote
Since the first Giuliettas were introduced to SA in the early 80's, the boring conforming Germans (BMWOpelVW) aspired to dethrone it - never quite succeeded - they'll always have their unique authentic Italian styling, and a combination of refined power, handling and class c apish? - costs aside, if there's an Alfa, who wants to drive anything else? - Go Alfa!!
I think it's rather the wolf among the sheep (ie. VWToyotaFord). Stunning new design will definitely separate you amongst the rest. All other carmakers seem to want to conform to blandboring. Top marks to them. They've achieved it. Alfa, thanks for this unveiling!
Saw the car on the road and was dissapointed
Alfa make beautiful cars and this one is no exception. Not all drivers want to drive a golf gti like every other sheep. Also VW is famous for a list price that becomes highly inflated after the 'options' are added!d
I have never read a favourable report on any Alfa Romeo.Seems the South African motoring journos are and will be anti Alfa Romeo. On the plus side , the European journos have more favourable road test reports.
Yawn. More golf blinkered reporting. I have not seen an objective review yet. It seems that if a car is not one of the same boring Germans, it needs to pass a higher test. And FYI, it does not claim to be the safest compact tested by ncap. It is. They give marks. Check if you're not sure. Awaresome car and at the spec cheaper than the stripped out standard Golf.
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