Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Alfa Romeo Giulietta review

A sexy name and a sexy looking car, the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta goes on sale in the UK from Saturday 24 July. This C-segment, family sized, five door hatchback with its coupe side profile replaces the 10-year old 147 range.

But before the official on sale date the public debut of the Giulietta takes place at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Moving Motor Show running from 1-4 July where the Alfa Romeo brand celebrates its 100th anniversary.

New Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The Italian Alfa Romeo brand has been famous for its beautifully styled cars, its motorsport pedigree but infamous for product quality, reliability and the ownership experience.

The sales success of the MiTo supermini in the last year has done much to improve the brand’s image and a revitalised and customer focussed dealer network now makes the ownership issue less of a gamble. In the past we bought Alfas with our heart – not with our head. Times have changed and the new Giulietta looks equally as good as an ownership proposition as the MiTo is.

In the past a new Alfa Romeo has traditionally been bought by an older motoring enthusiast, mainly male, but MiTo changed that and the age of owners has come down and there is a significant increase in sales to female buyers.

The Giulietta will build on that as the target audience is young families and of course the ever important business user-choosers and fleet customers. In the UK Alfa Romeo see a 50-50 split for sales between retail and business buyers.

Giulietta prices start at £16,995 and rise up to £24,495 and its targeted sales competitor is the Volkswagen Golf range. The company says that predicted residual values more or less match those of the Golf.

In the 1950s the Alfa Giulietta caught the imagination of the driving public with its sporty appeal, attractive looks and accessible pricing. Now, over 50 years later, the latest incarnation of the Giulietta has been designed to compete with the best in the mid-size C segment – the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

That’s no easy task considering the excellence of the competition in a category that now contributes one out of every four new cars sold in Europe. Interestingly in the UK in this segment one in three cars sold is to an older buyer, not the person Alfa is targeting.

The Giulietta is an all new car on a totally new platform which in turn will be the basis for other new Alfa models. The power units are the latest generation Euro V compliant engines as well and safety has been a high design priority.

Every customer can adapt the new car to their specific driving requirements thanks to Alfa Romeo’s D.N.A. selector. But this is just one of the electronic systems that the Compact platform was designed to integrate and exploit. Others, fitted as standard to every model in the range, include the Electronic Q2 differential and the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) system.
Giulietta engines

A range of five new engines - three petrol and two diesel - all of which are turbocharged gives the Giulietta further flexibility and makes it best in class for emissions, acceleration and fuel consumption claim Alfa.

Even the smallest capacity, a 1.4-litre, has a lusty 120bhp. The new 1.4-litre TB MultiAir 170bhp offers the lowest emissions and fuel consumption in its class for petrol engines of this power rating.

The 105bhp JTDM-2 engine is a flexible and economical diesel that uses second-generation MultiJet technology to combine extremely low fuel consumption with a responsive drive. The 2.0-litre is another second-generation MultiJet diesel and has the highest performance in its sector courtesy of a hearty 350Nm of torque available at just 1,750rpm.

All these engines combine Start&Stop technology (excluding the 1750 TBi Cloverleaf version) and a gearshift indicator to enable drivers to achieve the best economy possible.

The most powerful engine in the range is Alfa Romeo’s new 1750 TBi petrol unit, which offers the performance of a three-litre but has the fuel consumption of a 1.6 litre four cylinder, employing revolutionary technology to ensure strong acceleration at low engine speeds with minimal turbo lag.

But the Giulietta isn’t just about being fun to drive. Each model, from the entry-level Turismo specification to the range-topping Cloverleaf, has a very high level of standard equipment. Electric windows all-round along with manual air conditioning and electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors are all standard.

Move up to the Lusso model and you get dual zone automatic climate control, fog lights, leather steering wheel with audio controls and the Blue&Me hands-free infotainment system.

Both these cars come with the ‘comfort’ chassis specification. For a sportier drive the Veloce model features sports suspension, whilst the Cloverleaf sits on suspension that’s been lowered by 10mm for a more involving drive and a racier appearance.

The Veloce also gets darkened headlights, fog lights, plus aluminium kick plates and pedals. The Cloverleaf model gets all this plus dark tinted windows, sporty red brake callipers, Visibility Pack, and 18-inch spoke design alloy wheels with a dark titanium finish.

Whichever the model, owners will get one of the safest cars on the road. The new Alfa Giulietta was recently awarded a Euro NCAP five-star crash safety rating and an overall score of 87/100: an impressive result that makes it the safest compact car built to date says Alfa.

With a wide range of engines and four levels of specification Alfa Romeo expect 75 per cent of UK sales to go to the mid range Lusso and the sporty Veloce models with the starter specification Turismo taking 15 per cent of sales and the top of the range high performance Cloverleaf version taking 10 per cent.

With a 50-50 split of sales between retail and business/fleet customers, retail buyers are expected to make the new 1.4-litre TB MultiAir 170bhp, direct injection turbocharged petrol unit their favourite and higher mileage business and fleet users will go for the 2.0-litre JTDM-2, 170bhp turbodiesel unit.
Driving and performance

Having driven both this week, there is really little to choose between them as far as performance goes, the 2.0-litre diesel unit being a little more responsive mid range with 320Nm of torque from 1,500rpm against the 230Nm from 2,250rpm of the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit. The petrol engine returned a real-life 34.6mpg and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel returned 42.7mpg.

Top speed for both of them is 135mph and the 0-62mph acceleration times are more or less the same at 7.8 to 8.0 seconds. For business users the petrol engine incurs 15 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax and the diesel 18 per cent.

In the handling department the Giulietta offers superb cornering grip, very sharp, accurate and responsive steering and the ride is relatively comfortable but poorer road surfaces can unsettle the car.

I thought the 2.0-litre diesel model with different suspension settings to cope with the extra engine weight offered a more refined and comfortable ride. As for the specifications, the Lusso versions look the best financial bet but if the buying patterns of MiTo are replicated customers will go for the sportier Veloce versions.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta MILESTONES
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 5-Door 2.0 JTDM-2 170bhp Lusso

Price: £21,195

Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four cylinder turbocharged diesel, 170bhp, 320Nm (258lb ft) of torque from 1,500rpm, 6-speed manual

Performance: 135mph, 0-62mph 8.0 seconds, 60.1mpg (42.7mpg actual), CO2 124g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £90 per annum, BIK company car tax 18%

Insurance group: 25E

Dimensions: L4,351mm, W1,798mm, H1,465mm

For: Distinctive styling, seems well made, classy and sporty interior, first class cornering grip, balanced handling, sharp steering, powerful, responsive but fuel and tax efficient engines, high levels of specification and high safety rating

Against: Firm and unsettled ride at times, wide B and C pillars cause visibility blindspots, not as roomy in the rear as a Golf or Focus

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1 comment:

  1. This new alfa romeo car is absolutely gorgeous, I’d buy one in a heartbeat if I had the money. I’d vote it the most beautiful car models currently in production.