From £17,019
Fast diesel is good, though not as appealing as the similarly quick 1.4tb
Andrew Frankel Autocar
12 April 2010

What is it?

A diesel Alfa is always going to be a tricky concept to pull off. Like introducing ketchup to your Sunday roast, one might be desirable, the other delectable, but that gives no guarantee that a confection of the two will work.

Happily and as we have already reported, with its new Giulietta Alfa Romeo appears to have tracked down and recovered sizeable chunks of a mojo that had been missing for so long many, ourselves included, feared it dead. And the good news is that for once not even compression ignition can spoil the fun.

What's it like?

I’m not going to say its 2.0-litre, 168bhp turbo-diesel motor actually adds to your enjoyment, because the standard it must meet is set by it’s no less powerful 1.4-litre turbo-petrol brother which is sweeter, sharper and quieter by far. But nor does it detract from the driving experience sufficiently for its only justification to be circumstance rather than choice.

Partly this is because the rest of the car is so unexpectedly good. Diesel power puts a further 30kg just where you don’t need them over the front wheels, but this remains a suitably engaging Alfa to run up an Italian mountain or, I have no doubt, down a British B-road.

Its ride quality is just as startlingly impressive, its steering as lucid as any all-electric, system charged with turning driven wheels as you’ll find. You can convince yourself its turn-in is a little less incisive, but this is a matter of degrees. Compared to a 147, it remains miraculous.

Yet even a diesel engine as effective as this one would still seem a little out of place in any Alfa Romeo, and in one as otherwise sophisticated as the Giulietta, the inherent limitations of Rudolf Diesel’s invention are perhaps all too clear to see.

Principally, the motor is too noisy, both under load and at a gentle cruise. It’s not a deal-breaker but if you are wedded to the idea of the diesel, can we recommend not test-driving the 1.4tb just to confirm your decision? Otherwise you might just find the diesel’s ability to travel 12 extra miles for every gallon while emitting 10 fewer grammes of CO2 for every kilometre poor recompense for Alfa’s best four-cylinder motor since another Rudolf, this one called Hruska, penned a magical little flat-four and installed it in the Alfasud nearly 40 years ago.

Like all good diesels, this one can deliver peak torque soon after idle and exercise steely control on the gradient of the curve all the way to peak power, making the gearbox’s six evenly stacked ratios a marketing rather than an engineering imperative.

But there is no joy in this motor and if I can briefly compare it to the best of the best, BMW has not only found out how to liberate much more power from the same capacity, it has done so with considerably better manners too.

Should I buy one?

In summary, it’s fair to say the diesel Giulietta (at least this diesel Giulietta, for there is a 103bhp 1.6-litre version yet to be driven) comes close to greatness despite rather than because of this engine. It is ketchup, when what you really want with something as tasty as this is mustard.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Back to top

Join the debate

Comments
87
Add a comment…
Lee23404 22 May 2010

Re: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM

I had hoped to consider a Giuletta but the leasing/PCP rates are out and Alfa have shot themselves in the foot yet again. The cheapest to lease, a 1.6diesel Turismo is nearly £400 a month and that's before the annual mileage is increased past 10k. The 1.8 1750 is nearly £600 a month. It's possible to get a C63AMG for that at the moment!

I know it's down to Alfas usual crappy residuals but with A3s and 1-Series starting at just over £200 a month it's about time Alfa UK started subsidising them. They'll only get the volume they crave from fleet sales and with extra cars on the street (Alfas of any description are a pretty rare sight) the general public will take notice and may want to buy one.

Afas may be popular amongst enthusiasts but they still have an image problem amongst much of the general public. That must be compounded by the fact that they are a relatively rare sight.

michael knight 22 May 2010

Re: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM

'

montgomery wrote:
The interior feels very special(at least in the one I was in with the aluminium dash). Much more special feeling than any Golf or Focus.

The cars at Geneva had plastic 'metal-look' dash panels. Don't think they'd be metal as it's one slab with the passenger air-bag behind it.

BTW the forthcoming Focus dash is pretty special; darth-vader meets kinetic-surfacing. It makes the Guilietta interior look pretty dated.

montgomery 21 May 2010

Re: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDM

I think the Giulietta actually looks very good in the flesh, much better than the first photos suggested. Although it's not a classic beauty like the 147/156 or 159, inside and out it makes everything else in the class look very dull, without resorting to being shocking or vulgar. The interior feels very special(at least in the one I was in with the aluminium dash). Much more special feeling than any Golf or Focus. The quality felt great to me. The only disappointment is the carryover Mito steering wheel. Rover P6's comment about dodgy ergonomics is just silly- not even worth responding to.

Find an Autocar car review