Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM-2 Lusso
Our Rating

4/5

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM-2 Lusso

Alfa's 147 replacement looks great, takes corners beautifully and has a wonderful diesel engine.

The car that the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has replaced was called the 147None of this, of course, is of the least consequence if the car itself doesn't match up to the promise of its title. It would be like renting a DVD called, oh, I don't know, something like Tame Those Bitches and finding when you got home that it was a dog training guide. You can see how some people might find that disappointing.Some people might also be unimpressed by the looks of the Giulietta, but personally I think it looks pretty good. It doesn't bear much resemblance to anything else on the road, with the obvious exception of Alfa's own MiTo (which, similar looks notwithstanding, is in fact based on a different platform), though to me the greater size of the Giulietta gives the styling more room to breathe and gives the car an elegance that the smaller MiTo can't match. There's more style than usefulness - visibility is pretty awful and there's less space for rear passengers than there might be - but Alfa Romeo enthusiasts won't worry too much about that.They'll probably be more concerned about what the Giulietta is like to drive. Before going into that, I'll have to point out to anyone who hasn't already guessed it from the test car's full name that this one is fitted with the 170bhp two-litre turbo diesel engine, considerably the more powerful of the two diesels in the range (the other being a 105bhp 1.6) and the equal second strongest unit used in the Giulietta along with the 1.4 MultiAir turbo petrol, which gives about the same performance as the 135mph flat-out and 0-62mph in 8 seconds diesel. (The most butch of all is the 235bhp 1750 TBi found in the range-topping Cloverleaf.)This diesel is possibly the best part of the car. If you keep the DNA system in its Normal setting, which is what the car defaults to every time the engine is switched on, it doesn't seem particularly gutsy, but move the DNA switch into Dynamic and it comes alive (or seems to - actually what's happening is that the response to the accelerator pedal becomes much more sensitive). There's a lot of acceleration to be had if you rev it and an impressive amount if you don't, but change gear early and rely on low-rev grunt instead, and whatever you do the engine never makes an unseemly amount of noise. It's all very refined.What the rest of the car does is more confusing. In his launch report Tom Stewart praised the Giulietta highly for its ride and handling, but he drove only the MultiAir and the 1750 TBi. The diesel's ride isn't ideal, since the front suspension feels very underdamped - possibly because Alfa didn't concentrate hard enough on readjusting it for the extra weight of the engine - and there's quite a lot of unrestrained body movement when you're driving in a straight line.When you get to a corner, though, everything becomes much more definite. The Giulietta turns in solidly and feels well-balanced across the apex and on to the next straight, where it starts to feel wobbly again. On twisty roads it feels fantastic, and certainly much better than it does when there are no corners to deal with.And no, this has nothing to do with the DNA settings. As well as response to the accelerator, they affect the steering and brakes, and in the case of automatic models the gearbox, and in Dynamic mode the Q2 electric differential is brought into play, but they do not affect the suspension. The damping is the same no matter what mode you choose. For different suspension settings you would need to pay £1300 extra (on top of the £21,195 which, as of December 2009, is the cost of the Lusso tested here) for the Veloce, which has a more sporting set-up that I suspect will have a beneficial effect.One thing you might not expect, given the Fiat Group's past record, is how safe the Giulietta is, at least according to the results of the Euro NCAP crash tests, in which it achieved a five-star overall rating with no difficulty whatever. Its 97% score for adult occupant protection puts it equal highest, with the Volkswagen Golf, of all the small family cars to have gone through the procedure since it was revised in 2009, and it's also equal top, this time with the new Citroen C4, for child occupant protection on 85% (though the Golf, Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda3 and Vauxhall Astra are all close behind on 84%).63% for pedestrian protection is above average, and 86% for safety assist puts it in the second division, though Euro NCAP was pleased that Alfa Romeo offers Electronic Stability Control on all versions. The Giulietta was also described as "good" (the highest possible rating) for whiplash protection. Engine 1956 cc, 4 cylinders Power 170 bhp @4000 rpm Torque 258 ib/ft @1750 rpm Transmission 6 speed manual Fuel/CO2 60.1 mpg / 124 g/km Acceleration 0-62mph: 8sec Top speed 135 mph Price From £21046.00 approx Release date 01/07/2010

Latest Car Reviews

Join the newsletter

Get the latest news, reviews and guides every week. Update your preferences at any time.