An improvement over the old model, to be sure. The overall fit and finish of the cabin has come on in leaps and bounds, but there are still a few too many hard plastics for our liking. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and while the new leather sports steering wheel is an improvement, its contours won't suit all drivers. The Uconnect infotainment system works well in practice, but it looks out of place in the Giulietta.
Elsewhere in the cabin, the comfortable centre armrest of our car provided good storage space, but it doesn't make up for a lack of storage elsewhere. Indeed, some fixtures, such as the auxiliary and USB audio jack, feel too far out of reach. Other instruments, like the cruise control stalk, are completely obscured by the steering wheel from taller drivers.
There's plenty of space in the front, though, and provided you're not crossing continents, adults should fare relatively well on the rear bench. Road noise is an issue at speed, and something we expect would become obtrusive over longer journeys.
To the business end of this car, then, and the good news is that this 1.4-litre engine feels sporty and engaging to drive. It's a little loud, particularly under load, but for the most part it's responsive, with a large surge of torque upwards of 2500rpm. We wouldn't favour Alfa's TCT dual-clutch automatic over a manual transmission, because it's sometimes slow to respond even with the driving mode switch to Dynamic. The column-mounted paddles make short work of manual changes, but they don't feel like a premium option.
That said, in Dynamic mode the Giulietta feels like the sporting hatchback Alfa promised. The throttle response is decent and it feels fast. As we noted in our first drive of the diesel model, keen drivers will probably stick with Dynamic mode for most journeys, although the car's Natural mode does come with notably better fuel economy. Alfa reckons the car can acheive 55.4mpg on a combined cycle, coupled with CO2 emissions of 119g/km.
Through corners the Alfa remains stable even at high speed. There's also a pleasing level of feedback through the steering wheel, and the brakes respond well.