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?
This is the stylish Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback, equipped with the firm’s dual-clutch transmission. The TCT, as Alfa calls it, was first seen in the Mito last autumn but has already been revised for slicker shifts and an improved stop-start function ahead of this application to the Giulietta.
The six-speed ‘box gets a pair of dry clutches, and works alongside the stop-start system to boast some impressive economy and CO2 figures, which are also helped by its reduced weight.
At 81kg, the gearbox weighs 10kg less than a conventional auto’, and, in this 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel model, offers economy of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km. Small, but notable improvements over the 60.1mpg and 124g/km offered by six-speed manual-equipped versions of the same engine, then.
What’s it like?
Not bad at all. We only had the chance to assess the gearbox around Alfa’s Balocco test track in Italy, and when resisting the urge to attack the corners, the gearchanges were slick, smooth and fade into the background. Just as a good auto’ should.
Like all Giuliettas, the TCT-equipped diesel has the selectable DNA driving mode system. When travelling at 70mph in N (Normal mode), 2000rpm was indicated, which should make the twin-clutch Giulietta well suited to long motorway cruises.
Opt for D (Dynamic) mode and the gears are held onto for longer, and the diesel’s full 258lb ft of torque, the maximum the gearbox can handle, is released on the overboost function. It’s certainly no slouch; 0-62mph takes just 7.9sec, 0.1sec quicker than the manual car.
But the catch comes courtesy of the stop-start system. Alfa claims this is much improved over the Mito, which was slow to cut the engine off and even slower to start it again. Both problems still plague this Giulietta, however. We’d leave the stop-start switched off.
We also tried the TCT gearbox mated to a 168bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine. Despite carrying less weight over the front end, the MultiAir feels slower than the diesel in real-world conditions, but running costs are still impressive with a CO2 rating of 121g/km and a claimed 54.3mpg on the combined cycle.
Should I buy one?
There's a lot to recommend this particular Giulietta, particularly as the clunky stop-start system can be turned off. The rest of the TCT model has the same supple ride and handling, fine looks and a well-crafted interior as the rest of the desirable Giulietta range.
Whether it’s worth the extra outlay is down to how badly you want an auto’ in your Giulietta – the TCT is a £1350 option over its six-speed manual equivalents, and an extra £260 has to be shelled out for the optional steering wheel mounted paddles that the enthusiast driver will demand.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM TCT Lusso
Price: £23,550 (£23,810 with paddles); Top speed: 135mph; 0-62mph: 7.9sec; Economy: 62.8mpg; CO2: 119g/km; Kerb weight: 1340kg; Engine: 4cyl in-line, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power: 168bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1500rpm (258lb ft at 1750rpm with overboost); Gearbox: 6spd dual-clutch auto