From £17,019
Fast diesel is good, though not as appealing as the similarly quick 1.4tb

Our Verdict

Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The Giulietta competes in the biggest segment in Europe - rivals include the VW Golf and Ford Focus

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta has its flaws, but its dynamic capabilities and stylish looks are enough to keep it in contention

12 April 2010

What is it?

A diesel Alfa is always going to be a tricky concept to pull off. Like introducing ketchup to your Sunday roast, one might be desirable, the other delectable, but that gives no guarantee that a confection of the two will work.

Happily and as we have already reported, with its new Giulietta Alfa Romeo appears to have tracked down and recovered sizeable chunks of a mojo that had been missing for so long many, ourselves included, feared it dead. And the good news is that for once not even compression ignition can spoil the fun.

What's it like?

I’m not going to say its 2.0-litre, 168bhp turbo-diesel motor actually adds to your enjoyment, because the standard it must meet is set by it’s no less powerful 1.4-litre turbo-petrol brother which is sweeter, sharper and quieter by far. But nor does it detract from the driving experience sufficiently for its only justification to be circumstance rather than choice.

Partly this is because the rest of the car is so unexpectedly good. Diesel power puts a further 30kg just where you don’t need them over the front wheels, but this remains a suitably engaging Alfa to run up an Italian mountain or, I have no doubt, down a British B-road.

Its ride quality is just as startlingly impressive, its steering as lucid as any all-electric, system charged with turning driven wheels as you’ll find. You can convince yourself its turn-in is a little less incisive, but this is a matter of degrees. Compared to a 147, it remains miraculous.

Yet even a diesel engine as effective as this one would still seem a little out of place in any Alfa Romeo, and in one as otherwise sophisticated as the Giulietta, the inherent limitations of Rudolf Diesel’s invention are perhaps all too clear to see.

Principally, the motor is too noisy, both under load and at a gentle cruise. It’s not a deal-breaker but if you are wedded to the idea of the diesel, can we recommend not test-driving the 1.4tb just to confirm your decision? Otherwise you might just find the diesel’s ability to travel 12 extra miles for every gallon while emitting 10 fewer grammes of CO2 for every kilometre poor recompense for Alfa’s best four-cylinder motor since another Rudolf, this one called Hruska, penned a magical little flat-four and installed it in the Alfasud nearly 40 years ago.

Like all good diesels, this one can deliver peak torque soon after idle and exercise steely control on the gradient of the curve all the way to peak power, making the gearbox’s six evenly stacked ratios a marketing rather than an engineering imperative.

But there is no joy in this motor and if I can briefly compare it to the best of the best, BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity, it has done so with considerably better manners too.

Should I buy one?

In summary, it’s fair to say the diesel Giulietta (at least this diesel Giulietta, for there is a 103bhp 1.6-litre version yet to be driven) comes close to greatness despite rather than because of this engine. It is ketchup, when what you really want with something as tasty as this is mustard.

Join the debate

Comments
87

21 April 2010

I'm sure this will improve once multiair comes to the diesel range...

21 April 2010

"BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity".

That's not really true. A 120d for similar money has nearly 50cc more, the exact same torque figure and 174bhp v the Alfa's 168. Hardly what you'd call "much more power from the same capacity"......!

21 April 2010

[quote montgomery]

"BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity".

That's not really true. A 120d for similar money has nearly 50cc more, the exact same torque figure and 174bhp v the Alfa's 168. Hardly what you'd call "much more power from the same capacity"......!

[/quote]

er, that's not really true.

The latest version of BMW's 2 litre diesel produces 181hp(184PS) and 280lb.ft(380Nm) of torque, whilst emitting 125g CO2/km in the larger(to the Alfa) 3-series and accelerating it to 100km/h in 7.5s. If the 1-series has not had this updated engine read across already, it will have very shortly.

21 April 2010

I can't stand the Giulietta's styling, personally. Why they gave it that blobby conk when it could have had a 159/Brera-style nose, much prettier and more purposeful with it, I don't know. Ugly, ugly, ugly. I also can't stand hidden door handles - Alfa, stop pretending it's a 3-door, we all know it isn't. The front door doesn't look long enough. If you made a 3-door with front doors that length, it would look very unbalanced. Also, it looks as though the rearward visibility is awful, and the dash looks terrible. Shame - such a missed opportunity.

21 April 2010

[quote nicksheele]

[quote montgomery]

"BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity".

That's not really true. A 120d for similar money has nearly 50cc more, the exact same torque figure and 174bhp v the Alfa's 168. Hardly what you'd call "much more power from the same capacity"......!

[/quote]

er, that's not really true.

The latest version of BMW's 2 litre diesel produces 181hp(184PS) and 280lb.ft(380Nm) of torque, whilst emitting 125g CO2/km in the larger(to the Alfa) 3-series and accelerating it to 100km/h in 7.5s. If the 1-series has not had this updated engine read across already, it will have very shortly.

[/quote]F

For now the 120d has 177bhp(not 174 as I said above) according to the BMW website. The Alfa matches it for emissions and consumption from what I can tell. For now surely the Alfa is the only diesel that gets so close to BMW's figures? Haven't looked at the VW/Audi figures. And this is before they apply multiair/uniair to the diesel engines.

21 April 2010

This is all great...I want that 1.4TB though....but the wait is too long :(

21 April 2010

Yep the 1.4 TB is sitting right at the top of my next car list. I was thinking of black for my next car but loving that red in the pictures. Just got a 9 month wait 3 for the launch and 6 for them to depreciate to the right price.

21 April 2010

[quote montgomery]

[quote nicksheele]

[quote montgomery]

"BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity".

That's not really true. A 120d for similar money has nearly 50cc more, the exact same torque figure and 174bhp v the Alfa's 168. Hardly what you'd call "much more power from the same capacity"......!

[/quote]

er, that's not really true.

The latest version of BMW's 2 litre diesel produces 181hp(184PS) and 280lb.ft(380Nm) of torque, whilst emitting 125g CO2/km in the larger(to the Alfa) 3-series and accelerating it to 100km/h in 7.5s. If the 1-series has not had this updated engine read across already, it will have very shortly.

[/quote]F

For now the 120d has 177bhp(not 174 as I said above) according to the BMW website. The Alfa matches it for emissions and consumption from what I can tell. For now surely the Alfa is the only diesel that gets so close to BMW's figures? Haven't looked at the VW/Audi figures. And this is before they apply multiair/uniair to the diesel engines.

[/quote] The article could always be referring to the engine from the 123d, which is much more powerful (201bhp) and has more torque (295 lb ft). Capacity is 1995cc, 40cc more than the Alfa.

21 April 2010

[quote bwdrew][quote montgomery]

[quote nicksheele]

[quote montgomery]

"BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity".

That's not really true. A 120d for similar money has nearly 50cc more, the exact same torque figure and 174bhp v the Alfa's 168. Hardly what you'd call "much more power from the same capacity"......!

[/quote]

er, that's not really true.

The latest version of BMW's 2 litre diesel produces 181hp(184PS) and 280lb.ft(380Nm) of torque, whilst emitting 125g CO2/km in the larger(to the Alfa) 3-series and accelerating it to 100km/h in 7.5s. If the 1-series has not had this updated engine read across already, it will have very shortly.

[/quote]F

For now the 120d has 177bhp(not 174 as I said above) according to the BMW website. The Alfa matches it for emissions and consumption from what I can tell. For now surely the Alfa is the only diesel that gets so close to BMW's figures? Haven't looked at the VW/Audi figures. And this is before they apply multiair/uniair to the diesel engines.

[/quote] The article could always be referring to the engine from the 123d, which is much more powerful (201bhp) and has more torque (295 lb ft). Capacity is 1995cc, 40cc more than the Alfa.[/quote]

That's what I thought too. But that's a twin-turbo which costs more. The 123 engine should be compared to twin-turbo 1900cc 190bhp engine from the Delta which will hopefully make its way in to the Giulietta.

21 April 2010

They should have made a Giuletta petrol hybrid 1.4T, this would stop the diesel bickering and be the car for those who like to do mega miles per year or have company cars.

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