Getting excited about the way a small family hatch looks is increasingly difficult. Ford’s new Focus is hardly brimming with new ideas, and the Volkswagen Golf’s evolutionary looks barely raise the pulse. You can’t fault the Citroën C4 and BMW 1-series for individuality, but they’re love-’em-or-hate-’em kind of cars. Which brings us to the Alfa 147, freshly facelifted after five years.
Always pretty, the 147 has been given a gentle makeover that’s most noticeable from the front. The coupé-like proportions and sharp detailing remain, along with a uniquely Italian sense of style. Large, slanted new lights and an even bigger grille give the Alfa a slightly awkward appearance when viewed from dead ahead, though from any other angle it now looks more modern, more aggressive and a touch sportier.
But Alfas aren’t just about looking good, they’re also meant to deliver an enjoyable drive. The signs look good for diesel buyers, with the old car’s excellent 140bhp 1.9-litre 16-valve Multijet turbodiesel engine now uprated to the same 150bhp specification as the GT coupé’s.
With more torque than the flagship 3.2-litre V6 petrol GTA (225lb ft plays 221lb ft), the JTD feels incredibly strong off the line, and the power is transferred to the road cleanly and with an impressive lack of torquesteer. Unusually for a diesel, it is also extremely willing to rev, not running out of puff until well past the 4500rpm red line.