I’d better explain:
• Alfa Romeo – The Great Italian manufacturer.
• Giulietta: recalling the name of one of their most successful models from the 1950s and ‘60s.
• 1750: roughly the engine size.
• TBi: fuel injection system.
• TCT: twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
• Quadrifoglio Verde: the lucky four-leaf clover symbol on Ugo Sivocci’s Alfa when he won the Targa Florio in 1923 and used by Alfa during much of their outstanding sporting success too many years ago.
So what’s it like?
Great fun! That’s number one.
Yes, many still prefer sports cars to have a manual gearbox. And is this four-seat, four-door saloon a sports car?
Sure thing: it’s quick (zero to 62 mph in 6.0 seconds); it handles beautifully; it’s got great steering.
And you can’t ignore all that sporting history, all there in its DNA. (Not to be confusing: DNA as in human hereditary deoxyribonucleic acid, not just Alfa’s all-weather, Normal and Dynamic management system that they of course cunningly call DNA. Clear?
More of that later.)
The heart of this Giulietta is its 240 horse power engine. It’s the same now as in Alfa’s glamorous 4C and, as it happens, Alfa Romeo’s first own car as A.L.F.A (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica de Automobili) in 1910 was the 3-litre 24 hp. So, 115 years later, ten times the power from an engine nearly half the size. OK, I admit, that old car produced 42 bhp, so not really ten times…you work it out!
This very impressive four-cylinder unit just loves to go. If there’s any slight niggle, this is not the easiest of cars to keep smooth creeping along in stop-start traffic: it seems to want to keep moving, like a dog on a leash, even when you go from ‘drive’ to ‘neutral’ in the gearbox. But hopefully, the car will most often be enjoying itself out on the open road, where it’s meant to be.
The engine has, apart from its power output, a good deal of torque or pulling power; at a mere 2000 rpm, you get 340 Nm. Accelerating goes on and on, therefore, and you can either let the auto do the walking, or have more fun by using the paddles or manual selection. Then there’s the Alfa DNA system. For cold, wet weather, ‘A’ for all-weather gives greater automatic protection against losing grip, with VDC (vehicle dynamic control), ASR (anti-slip regulation) and DST (dynamic steering torque) all doing their thing. ‘N’ normal or natural mitigates less and ‘D’ dynamic or sporty allows you to feel more through the steering wheel, which stiffens a little, and to get faster engine response. You still get a proper degree of anti-slip regulation if you really start to overdo things and a little nudge on the steering wheel, but ‘D’ is what you’ll want to be using in the Quadrifoglio as often as possible. It’s what you’ve paid for. A particularly good thing about this is that the suspension isn’t over-hardened. At all times, yes, you know exactly what sort of surface is under the driving front wheels, but Alfa’s Active suspension, with its electronic shock absorber control, is compliant enough not to jar your bones.
The steering and handling are excellent. Once you feel at home, you think how great it would be if you could get this car onto the race-track. In ‘D’ mode, the car can sense when a hazardous hard-braking situation is about to occur and ‘pre-fill’ the system before the driver has even touched the pedal.
The car was on Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres. On certain motorway surfaces, the road-noise was so loud that it pretty well drowned out any other sound, such as the nice engine/exhaust note. This was a muted growl, with a sort of ‘bop’ noise between gear-changes. I was imagining that, when the engine one day became totally clapped out after a few hundred thousand miles, great big smoke rings would come out of the exhaust pipes with each change.
With 70 mph at around 2300 rpm, I’d hoped for a reasonable mpg figure, but I ended an overall test mileage of 430 with an indicated 30.8. But, yes, I did enjoy our DNA friend ‘D’…
Space at the front was fine and I particularly liked the very smart front seats with the marque badge woven in, Alfa on the driver’s and Romeo on the passenger’s; also the ‘Giulietta’ embossed into the head-rest design. The space in the rear was, how shall we say, economical. The boot was neat, with the floor adaptable to different load-separating configurations and a space-saver wheel lives under the floor.
I didn’t like the reflections off the main instruments . Although they are set deep into a binnacle, their shiny perspex-type covering doesn’t do the job of keeping them always fully visible: after a while on sunny days, I worked out that what I was often seeing was a grossly distorted mirror-image of my face, as in a fairground hall of mirrors! At night, all was fine, although, pernickety to the end, I found the inner rim of the steering wheel slightly impeded the view onto the main instruments’ outer edges. Otherwise, I did really like the dashboard’s sweeping design.
It’s well-equipped, but the finish? In a car at this price, placing it in serious, fast German car territory, it doesn’t quite make it…very nearly, but not quite. Examples are some old-fashioned hard plastics and the cheap-feeling switches for the reading lights.
But, in a world where nothing’s perfect, judge this car not with your head, but with your heart. Go for it, I say!
Review ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA 1750 TBi 240 bhp TCT Quadrifoglio Verde
On the road price: £28,120, the Price as tested: £30,160
Engine: 1742cc, 4-cyl fuel injection
Power: 240 bhp
Transmission: 6-speed twin-clutch automatic, front-wheel-drive
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Top speed: 152 mph
Fuel economy: combined 65.7 mpg
CO2 emissions: 162 g/km
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