What is it?
On the face of it, the 2014 model year version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta doesn’t represent too much to crow about. A new grille here and some revised lights there are more on-going model evolutions than significant facelift changes.
Of more interest is a new version of the JTDm turbodiesel engine, fitted here for the first time anywhere in the Fiat Group. The 148bhp unit's new common-rail injection system allows up to eight injections per stroke and can fire two separate injections so closely together that it effectively creates a continuous supply of fuel. Alfa says this allows a quieter operation and reduces particulate and NOx emissions.
The other notable change is the introduction of a new infotainment system, called Uconnect, which supports a range of smartphone and MP3 devices, either hardwired or through Bluetooth. It can also play music streamed from smartphones. DAB radio will be standard on Sportiva models in the UK.
What's it like?
The new engine is both smooth and quiet up to 3000rpm, but rather coarse above it, and emits a familiar diesel clatter under acceleration.
In-gear flexibility makes for a decently quick car on give and take roads, particularly in Dynamic mode, which boosts torque from 236lb ft to 280. Ultimately, though, the Volkswagen Group’s TDI engine, with similar power output, edges it.
Elsewhere, despite a number of minor changes, the MY2014 Giulietta is largely business as usual. That means a ride quality comparable with a Focus or Golf and steering that, despite being rather edgy a few degrees either side of dead-ahead, is weighty and feelsome.
It’s just a shame that the added weight and sensitivity applied when engaging the Dynamic mode of the car’s DNA system spoils the fun.
The interior looks rather attractive, but it doesn’t take long before you touch the myriad of different plastic finishes and realise that it lacks the tactility of most of its rivals. A new design of seat addresses our previous concerns over a lack of support, but space in the rear is limited compared to the class leaders.
Should I buy one?
Possibly. Whether the Giulietta appeals is largely a matter of whether you value a sporting edge and design flair over the more rounded set of talents provided by the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
If you’re swayed by the safer bets, most of Alfa Romeo's 2014 revisions won’t change your mind, but the new engine offers enough to allow Alfa to raise the Giulietta’s game.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 150 HP 2.0 JTDM Sportiva
Price £25,000 (est); 0-62mph 8.8sec; Top speed 130mph; Economy 67mpg; CO2 110g/km; Kerb weight 1320kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual