The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has its flaws, but its dynamic capabilities and stylish looks are enough to keep it in contention
First DriveFacelifted Italian hatch gets all-new trim line-up and an auto 'box for its cleanest diesel
First DriveThis Giulietta charms with its tuned 1.4-litre engine, but suffers from poor interior choices and numb steering feel
What is it?
Alfa Romeo’s new mid-spec diesel engine for the Giulietta is a crucial addition that the firm needs to get right. But first impressions have us a little concerned.
The 2.0 JTDm-2 gets 140bhp and a healthy 258lb ft of torque. Compare that with the Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi Titanium X’s 161bhp and 251lb ft of torque and it’s off to a fairly decent start. But start the new unit up and you’re in no doubt that it’s the black pump you’ll be visiting. The resulting diesel clatter is intrusive.
What's it like?
As with all Giuliettas, you’re given a choice of three driving modes – Eco, Normal and Dynamic – as well as stop-start. In Dynamic, the throttle response sharpens adequately to put it more on a par with the diesel Focus.
Drive like you did when you were 18 and the subtle whoosh from the oil-burner’s dump valve promises much but delivers little. At 2000rpm the engine hits a flat spot, which frustrates when you’re trying to push on.
Front-end grip, however, is superb and the six-speed manual gearbox has a lovely throw to it, enabling quick and precise shifts – something you need with this particular engine.
Where this Giulietta is most at home is on the motorway. The chassis is composed and planted at higher speeds and the diesel engine merely ticks over at 70mph, hitting just under 2000rpm.
But – and this is a very big but – in mixed driving in Dynamic mode we managed only 31mpg – less than half the suggested 62.8mpg.
Should I buy one?
Given a long motorway run and a conservative right foot, however, we’re sure that mid-40s economy would be achieveable. So with its pretty interior, great handling and precise gearbox, this is a worthy enough alternative to the class-leading Focus.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDm-2 Veloce
Price: £23,520; Top speed: 127mph; 0-62mph: 9.0sec; Economy: 62.8mpg (combined); CO2: 119g/km; Kerb weight: 1320kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power: 140bhp at 3750rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual