A noticeable improvement over the previous model, that's for sure. Alfa's interior tweaks have helped lift the interior ambiance and feel considerably, and it's a lot more interesting to look at than the likes of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
Up front you'll find relatively comfortable seats with plenty of support, lots of space and adequate visibility. The steering wheel adjust for rise and reach, and it's not difficult to find a suitable driving position, but the wheel has contours that may not agree with some. There's no clutch footrest, or clear space alongside the clutch, which could prove tiresome on longer trips - and the brake and accelerator are positioned quite close together.
A modicum of storage spaces - such as a decently sized glove box, stowage tray in the centre arm rest and slender door pockets - will prove useful to many but the lack of a place to put your mobile will frustrate many. The problem is exacerbated further by the positioning of the USB and auxiliary connection ports in front of the gear lever, which means that cables can end up trailing all over the cabin.
Move into the back and you'll find a tolerable amount of room - there's just about seating for three adults but headroom for the outer occupants is limited; a Focus or Golf is more comfortable in the tail.
A large 350-litre boot - some 34 litres bigger than a Focus' - and a space-saver spare-wheel serve to improve the Alfa's usability. The new Alfa Uconnect system media is easy to use too, and quick to respond to inputs.
While the interior is a generally presentable and appealing place to be, it's when you look a little closer that its long-term appeal becomes questionable. There are disappointing finishes in places, including a sharp plastic edge to the lip of the glovebox, while some areas have been left seemingly unfinished - around the steering column shroud, for example, there are roughly-cut fabrics and unfinished plastic edges.
On the move there's little wind noise but a considerable amount of road noise persistently reminds you that you're travelling. The new diesel engine is a smooth affair though, offering up a decent amount of punch until you hit around 3500rpm, after which it tails off.
A swift and slick six-speed manual gearbox make it easy to keep the Alfa surging along, however, and it's also quite content to potter along in higher gears, with its torque permitting for prompt acceleration. It's a comparatively refined diesel engine too, although the stop-start system can be a little sluggish, and its performance doesn't feel at odds with the Alfa's sporting nature. It returned an indicated 50mpg during testing too, which bodes well for long-distance users.
Through corners the Giulietta delivers a precise and stable feel, with plenty of front-end grip, lots of traction and surprisingly little steering corruption from the peak 280lb ft that's sent to the front wheels. The car's ride can admittedly be a little busy, increasingly so on rougher roads, but it never crosses over into becoming outright uncomfortable - and with 'sports' suspension it's not entirely unexpected, either.
Braking performance is strong and easily controlled, and it's pleasing to see a conventional mechanical handbrake in lieu of the increasingly common and sometimes frustrating electronic equivalent.
Alfa's DNA switch - offering 'Dynamic', 'Natural' and 'All weather' modes - does make a notable difference to the way the Giulietta performs, with a sharpening of responses as you move up from All Weather to Dynamic. If you enjoy driving in a spirited fashion, you'll probably put it in Dynamic and leave it be.